Chinese Investments in the Russian Far East

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2019-63-11-105-113

I. Zuenko (,
The Far Eastem Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of istory, Archaeology and Ethnology, 89, Pushkinskaya Str., Vladivostok, 690001, Russian Federation;
S. Ivanov (,
The Far Eastem Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of istory, Archaeology and Ethnology, 89, Pushkinskaya Str., Vladivostok, 690001, Russian Federation;
A. Savchenko (,
The Far Eastem Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of istory, Archaeology and Ethnology, 89, Pushkinskaya Str., Vladivostok, 690001, Russian Federation 

Acknowledgements. The article’s section “Chinese investment in special economic zones” is accomplished under the financial support of Russian Foundation for Basic Research (project 18-09-00030 “Political and Administrative Challenges of Accelerated Development: History of Special Economic Zones in Russian Far East in 1990–2010s”). 

Abstract. The article analyses the scope, sectoral distribution and key features of Chinese economic activity in the boundary regions of the Russian Far East. Since Chinese investment is a highly controversial topic exploited by mass media and politicians, the research combines quantitative study of Russian and Chinese official statistics and qualitative analysis based on semi-structured interviews with involved officials, businessmen, and experts. Such an approach helps to look beyond official or alarmist representations and provides a more comprehensive picture. Our research shows that four southern regions of the Far East demonstrate different patterns of Chinese economic activity depending on historical background and level of economic development. The strongest positions of Chinese capital can be found in the agriculture of the Jewish Autonomous Oblast, where the economic dependency on the Chinese market is most visible. But, in general, the Chinese investments are micro- and small businesses which are vulnerable to local protectionism and changes in cross-border economic conditions (primarily exchange rate) and legal treatment. The new administrative tools for attracting investment in the region (Free Port of Vladivostok, Territories of Advanced Economic Development) still haven’t implied a visible effect on the activity of Chinese investors. Opportunities and challenges derived from Chinese investment are usually exaggerated in official and expert discourse. The article argues that important factors of Chinese economic activity in traditional spheres of Far Eastern economy are fading away. Reducing capacity to exploit Chinese labor, the more protectionist economic policy of the regional authorities and increasing competition from large Russian businesses are closing the window of opportunities not only for expansion but also for keeping current economic positions. Nowadays, Chinese investors face the challenge of transforming their activity and seeking new spheres for business.

Keywords: Russia, China, Far East, investment, Chinese capital, regional development 


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For citation:
Zuenko I., Ivanov S., Savchenko A. Chinese Investments in the Russian Far East. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2019, vol. 63, no. 11, pp. 105-113.

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