Biding Time? China’s Slow Takeover of Russia’s Far East

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Ahead of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, President Vladimir Putin declared that he was only reclaiming what had always belonged to Russia. However, Putin may get the taste of his own medicine from Russia’s closest ally at present, President Xi Jinping of China, who is also keen on restoring China’s lost territories, possibly including those annexed by Russia as well.

In recent years, there has been a significant influx of Chinese farmers and migrant labor into the Russian Far East, stoking fears within the local population about the potential loss of land and economic sovereignty in the region. What lends credence to these fears is the fact that, only a year after the onset of Russia’s war in Ukraine, China’s Ministry of Natural Resources issued an order in February 2023 mandating the use of former Chinese names of its lost territories in neighboring countries, including in Russia’s Far East.

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