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Politics & Law

Why China will “reclaim” Siberia

Expanded China-Siberia map showing possible claims China might make

Expanded China-Siberia map showing possible claims China might make

China has made no secret that it will one day enforce its claims on much of Eastern Russia, which it sees as rightfully belonging to China.  With Russia fast becoming the weaker partner in the alliance formed after the west imposed sanctions, just how would China legitimise their claim, and how much territory would they “take back?”

“A land without people for a people without land.” At the turn of the 20th century, that slogan promoted Jewish migration to Palestine. It could be recycled today, justifying a Chinese takeover of Siberia. Of course, Russia’s Asian hinterland isn’t really empty (and neither was Palestine). But Siberia is as resource-rich and people-poor as China is the opposite. The weight of that logic scares the Kremlin.

Moscow recently restored the Imperial Arch in the Far Eastern frontier town of Blagoveshchensk, declaring: “The earth along the Amur was, is and always will be Russian.” But Russia’s title to all of the land is only about 150 years old. And the sprawl of highrises in Heihe, the Chinese boomtown on the south bank of the Amur, right across from Blagoveshchensk, casts doubt on the “always will be” part of the old czarist slogan.

Siberia – the Asian part of Russia, east of the Ural Mountains – is immense. It takes up three-quarters of Russia’s land mass, the equivalent of the entire U.S. and India put together. It’s hard to imagine such a vast area changing hands. But like love, a border is real only if both sides believe in it. And on both sides of the Sino-Russian border, that belief is wavering.

The border, all 2,738 miles of it, is the legacy of the Convention of Peking of 1860 and other unequal pacts between a strong, expanding Russia and a weakened China after the Second Opium War. (Other European powers similarly encroached upon China, but from the south. Hence the former British foothold in Hong Kong, for example.)

The 1.35 billion Chinese people south of the border outnumber Russia’s 144 million almost 10 to 1. The discrepancy is even starker for Siberia on its own, home to barely 38 million people, and especially the border area, where only 6 million Russians face over 90 million Chinese. With intermarriage, trade and investment across that border, Siberians have realized that, for better or for worse, Beijing is a lot closer than Moscow.

The vast expanses of Siberia would provide not just room for China’s huddled masses, now squeezed into the coastal half of their country by the mountains and deserts of western China. The land is already providing China, “the factory of the world,” with much of its raw materials, especially oil, gas and timber. Increasingly, Chinese-owned factories in Siberia churn out finished goods, as if the region already were a part of the Middle Kingdom’s economy.

One day, China might want the globe to match the reality. In fact, Beijing could use Russia’s own strategy: hand out passports to sympathisers in contested areas, then move in militarily to “protect its citizens.” The Kremlin has tried that in Transnistria, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and most recently the Crimea, all formally part of other post-Soviet states, but controlled by Moscow. And if Beijing chose to take Siberia by force, the only way Moscow could stop would be using nuclear weapons.

There is another path: Under Vladimir Putin, Russia is increasingly looking east for its future – building a Eurasian Union even wider than the one inaugurated recently in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, a staunch Moscow ally. Perhaps two existing blocs – the Eurasian one encompassing Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation – could unite China, Russia and most of the ‘stans. Putin’s critics fear that this economic integration would reduce Russia, especially Siberia, to a raw materials exporter beholden to Greater China. And as the Chinese learned from the humiliation of 1860, facts on the ground can become lines on the map.

Source: New York Times – Why China Will Reclaim Siberia

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25 thoughts on “Why China will “reclaim” Siberia

  1. HAHAHA, … I talked about this over 30 years ago.
    Everybody called me an idiot.
    Let’s wait another 20 years and see who the real idiots are.
    Then, China will nit only claim Siberia as it’s own. After having snatched the entire South China Sea, reaching already into the Indian Ocean, now Siberia, … guess what will be next “China’s property”.

    Oops, I forgot – “Australia IS Already (unofficial) China’s property.

    Lalalalala… You can’t stop this dragon, unless you behead it!

    Need a second opinion? yes, you’re not right, neither.

    Hahahahaha …!

    Liked by 1 person

    Posted by Leslie | July 6, 2014, 2:20 am
  2. This is something I have thought of for years- that this will be an opening for the US and Russia to get closer as Russia (whose population will soon trail that of tiny VietNam) will need assistance to assert it dominion over the greatest land mass among nations,


    Posted by supTweet | July 6, 2014, 8:36 am
  3. Chinese immigration legal or otherwise is sure to cause problems for Russia but I fail to see how China could actually expand it’s empire into Russia without an actual war. With both nations possessing nuclear weapons neither side would end up in possession of Siberia.

    The article is right about the Russian tactic of handing out passports in contested areas but they only seem to do this in small countries/areas where they know they can use bullying tactics to get their way. Could they do the same to a strong country with nuclear weapons like the USA? No, and that’s why China couldn’t use the same tactic against Russia. They’re not so foolish. Russia will adapt to survive. Nobody will accept Chinese dominion in Siberia.


    Posted by RussLovr | July 6, 2014, 7:35 pm
  4. Paranoia great destroyer! I can see China’s enemies conjuring up images of China eating into Siberia. What for? China just go about doing business with anybody and if Siberians, Moscow don’t object, what is the problem? Win win situation isn’t it? This silly fear about China eating into Siberia reminds me of a Canadian poster who complained about China taking oil from Alberta. Isn’t it silly? This is a pure arms length business transaction. Nobody forcing anybody to sell. Similarly for Russia. Close the border, leave Siberia untapped, China can always go elsewhere, no problemo.

    Why the need for crude military way to win over Siberia? This is only for blood thirsty people’s approach. No need to follow Russia passport way to annex. Why waste time governing, especially different tribe people? Just win win by economic means, that will suffice. China will win over Siberia, in fact all corners of the globe through Chinazation. Just spread Chinese culture, yes, China have a lot to teach foreigners. China is way way superior to many countries and I often wonder what these other people have to be so proud of themselves. Of course China is low profile and actually regretably sometimes think others are better. These modern idiot Chinese forgot their own superior history! On closer analysis one will get to know China have among the best cultural export to the world. It’s all there in a typical Chinatown. So Siberia, here I come! Not with guns but with soft power, martial arts, arts, food, TCM and so forth. Giving you and other Russians the treasures from the thousands of years of accumulated Chinese culture which BTW is melded from other cultures as well, especially the Muslims. China is inclusive, so should others!

    To recap, China don’t conquer any country with crude force, but clever cultural and economic integration.

    Editor’s Note: In response to the many emails about this poster, we do suspect he’s a paid Chinese internet commentator. However, we believe that all people should be allowed to voice their opinions, not just the ones that agree with our agenda. Therefore, at this stage we will not ban him, but will continue to censor his profanity and racial vilification.


    Posted by Fre Okin | July 8, 2014, 8:43 am
    • @FRE OKIN
      “China have a lot to teach foreigners”. Grammar not being one of those things obviously. Did you write this in a comedy Chinese voice? I don’t know why you chibots bother.


      Posted by Russlovr | July 9, 2014, 4:51 am
    • China did use brute force many times when it could. By could I mean had strength to do it. Current territory China has got is mainly due to Northern conquests by Manchu. it is how Tibet and Inner Mongolia along with Xinjiang appeared to be parts of China. However, I would not advice china to mess with Russia. Firstly because of nukes. I do not think Russia will hesitate…It is better to be friends.


      Posted by Vasya Pypkin | September 28, 2014, 6:48 am
  5. What a ridiculous article. Russia has 7000 nukes. China has 250. Do you really think Serbia can be gotten that easily.


    Posted by Pete (@petetwit1) | June 24, 2015, 6:11 pm
  6. China is smart. Let the world believe the crisis is the South China Sea. Let Russia feel secure enough that it gets into trouble with Europe. Preferably a shooting crisis. China can then side with the international community and annex Russia to open a second front. When the dust settles China has a defacto or actual sovereign control of Siberia. The best part is that China can look like the good guys. Have allies in its invasion, and the region is too remote and undeveloped for anyone to actually care about liberating. China gets to prove history wrong. That is “never invade Russia in Winter”. Apparently the trick is that you have to invade Russia from the East, not the West.

    Geo-politically I think that the Chinese annexation of Siberia (or more) is inevitable.


    Posted by Knowitall | July 15, 2016, 12:09 pm
  7. Chinese r greedy pigs. Soon they will claim America as theirs cos native Americans r from Far East Russia originally. Their imagination is so wild!


    Posted by I'm done with this world | September 5, 2017, 6:42 am


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