Ghost hunting in the far East of Russia

Before nedostupny for Soviet citizens, the region around Vladivostok, more open, and China’s influence is getting wider, writes the Neue Z?rcher Zeitung.

Призрачная охота на Дальнем Востоке России


“Vladivostok is far, but he belongs to us,” said Lenin once. Of course, today no one denies it. And yet in the far East of Russia there has been some movement, especially since China’s President XI Jinping proclaimed a “new silk road”: revived the old trade routes around China and have built ports, highway and railway. It may be useful to the Primorye region capital of Vladivostok, because it is conveniently located between China, Japan and Korea. Great hope for those who dream of an economic and touristic boom. The devil for those who are afraid of China’s influence and destruction of the environment.

“New” silk road” is neither a project nor a program, nor a ready-made strategy, says Ivan Zinenko, geographer of the Asia-Pacific center of the Russian Academy of Sciences. – In addition, there is no official Chinese maps”. It shows a blank page with a black border. “Maps can only paint around the state. The new silk Road is a Chinese philosophy. That’s why its so hard to understand,” he says.

In the port of dreams

The map contains Primorye – 1, Primorye and Primorye 2 – 3: three axes that cross the province from the Chinese border to the East and lead into the Pacific ocean. A four-hour drive from Vladivostok is a port of the Trinity center of Primorye – 2. It is only 90 kilometers away. But detours enormous; huge Bay with no bridges and winding roads make the journey to the challenge. Senenko, says that “the only railway line in this area is the relationship with North Korea”. “Hence, Russia supplies oil, China pays. This was the only thing transferred to the new silk road here in the far East,” he explains.

On the way back we pass the first ecological tunnel in Russia – narvinsky mountain tunnel. Ecological tunnel is designed not for people and their vehicles, and for leopards and tigers that still exist here in the national Park and can easily pass on it.

Where are the real forest

Forest as far as the eye can see. 40,000 acres here on Kaimanovka, about 70 kilometers North of Vladivostok, Primorsky corridor – 1. Here there are firs, oaks, maples, elms – more than thirty kinds of trees. A few years ago, Russia has revised its forest management and transferred responsibility to the provinces. Now he belongs to only 25 000 hectares, the rest is under threat of issuing licenses. The Chinese government makes it better. Last year they completely banned commercial logging in natural forests.

The Chinese are already there

Return to Vladivostok. No leopards, but tigers were not found, and even the new silk road seems to be a phantom. However, the Chinese are already here. At the airport written in Chinese and some Russian guides speak Chinese. We drive on the Golden bridge and the Russian bridge – the banners of modern Vladivostok. They connect areas that it was difficult to get on the ferry. Bridges were built only six years ago. In order to build them it took an important event – the summit of the Asia-Pacific economic community in Vladivostok.

In the end everything had to go quickly, but many bridge-building companies were received waivers: the Australians didn’t the French have too little time. Then the Russians did it themselves. Why not the Chinese? “We didn’t want the Chinese – said the representative of the administration, because they are everywhere. They are buying the farm and come here in marriage.”

It seems that the geographer Ivan zuenko right: despite the new silk road, China will build only a few large infrastructure projects in Russia. “Because the Chinese want to bring in their own labour, do not pay any taxes so they don’t get assurances from the Russian authorities. Russian will never give everything.”

In fact, logical. For all the brotherly love and all publicly noted the unity of Russia considers itself a world power, not as a suppliant, as the poor country in Africa. Vladivostok will be without a doubt Russian.