By Paul Goble
Chinese media are celebrating what has passed “almost unnoticed” in Russia: Moscow’s handing over of some 4.7 square kilometers of what had been Russian land to China, with Beijing viewing this as the first step toward the return of larger portions of the Russian Far East to Chinese control, according to Newsru agency.
The outlet cited a story in yesterday’s “China Daily” which reported the return of the land, noting that it is but a small part of the 1,500,000 square kilometers “the declining Qing Dynasty gave up” to the Russians between 1858 and 1915” in a series of “’unequal treaties’” (newsru.com/world/06nov2015/chland.html?nr and chinadaily.com.cn/world/2015-11/05/content_22380291.htm).
Another Chinese publication, “Global Times,” acknowledged that Russians are unhappy to be handing over any parcel of land but suggested that now that Beijing and Moscow are cooperating, it is easier for the Russian authorities to recognize Chinese territorial claims (globaltimes.cn/content/951156.shtml).
The handover of this small parcel to China is the result of the October 2004 agreement between Vladimir Putin and Hu Tsingtao; but as Newsru.com reported, “residents of China do not consider the issue closed.” It noted that the BBC’s Russian Service had recently done a story on Chinese aspirations (bbc.com/russian/international/2015/11/151105_china_russia_land).
According to the BBC, some Chinese bloggers have suggested that Russia must “return Vladivostok, Blagoveshchenks, and Tanu-Uryankhai [Tyva] to China, and one has offered an intriguing explanation for what is going on far from the Chinese border in Ukraine as a result of the transfer of even a small portion of land from Russia to China.
‘I finally know why Russia annexed Crimea,” one Chinese blogger wrote. “Putin doesn’t want that Russia will become smaller during his administration.” By annexing Crimea, the Kremlin leader can ensure that doesn’t happen.