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Harbin (Heilongjiang Province, China)

the new capital of the Russian Federation

Frederick Lauritzen

1st December 2023

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China is conquering Russia. It has set up a new special economic zone (SEZ) in Heilongjiang province. Harbin, its capital, is famous for a yearly ice sculpture festival. Among its past monuments are Russian Orthodox churches dating from the beginning of the 20th century, when 100,000 Russians lived there, out of an overall population 300,000 at the time. The Special Economic Zone will be voted in spring next year.

 

Harbin will come under direct rule of the central government (other cities include Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, and Chongqing). Some national universities would open their campuses in Harbin. National Defence and National Defence Technology will merge with Harbin Engineering University. Research Institutes would be moved from Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzen to Harbin, and the People’s Bank of China will set up its headquarters for Northeastern China in Harbin.

 

The Duma, the Russian lower parliament, has already ratified several agreements which include the one for gas supplies (31st May). Others are signed contracts which will be soon ratified, such as the Chinese exclusive use of 32 million hectares of agricultural land in Russia, by China (16th October 2023). The Chairman of the Russian Duma, Vyacheslav Volodin, went to Beijing to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping on 22nd November.

 

The route of such commerce would go through the Nizhneleninskoye-Tongjiang bridge (completed in July 2016 on the Chinese side, officially opened in August 2021, shortly after construction on the Russian side was completed). The grain would be stored at the Grain Terminal Nizhneleninskoye-Tongjiang (signed 11th September). This is part of the New Land Grain Corridor. In the same area a petroleum hub is going to be built based on the agreement of Russia’s United Petrochemical Company (ONGK) and China’s Xuan Yuan Industrial Development.

 

The Special Economic Zone would apparently be a visa free area. Does it mean effectively there will be a frictionless border between China and Russia? No paperwork; just digital registration of goods. Similarly efficient permits have been granted on a smaller scale for passengers taking the hydrofoil on the Amur River from Tongjiang to Nizheleninskoye.

 

The aim of the Heilongjiang Special Economic Zone is to control the Russian Far East economically. The province’s most significant closest port is Vladivostok in the Russian Federation. The port is already controlled by China.

 

The Trans-Siberian railway runs through Harbin.

 

On the Russian side of the Amur River, across from Harbin, the region is the Jewish Autonomous Oblast. It was created in 1934 for the Jewish population transferred there by Stalin. Today it is a very convenient administrative structure. It is the only Autonomous Oblast in the Russian Federation as defined by article 65 of the constitution. With the Heilongjiang Special Economic Zone on one side and the Autonomous Oblast on the other, it will be very easy to set up a frictionless border.

 

China also is cutting out Inner Mongolia (and Mongolia itself) as well as North Korea from this trade route. No separatist tensions and no rivals in this project.

 

Soon the vast majority of the Russian economy will depend on and be decided in Harbin the new capital of the Russian Federation.

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