Transbaikal officials are working on a deal with China that would allow Chinese firms to lease more than 300,000 hectares (1.2 thousand sq mi) of land in that Russian region, but a Beijing official says that the deal won’t go through unless Moscow agrees to a massive influx of Chinese workers because there are no Russians available for work there.
According to “Nezavisimaya gazeta,” the Transbaikal kray government in Eastern Siberia is ready to sign a letter of intent that would allow a Chinese company to lease the land for 49 years, but “in Beijing, they consider that such a transfer of land is insufficient” and that Moscow must allow for the entrance of Chinese citizens to work it.
This new Chinese demand was presented by a senior official of the Chinese Institute of International Strategic Research last week in a Chinese newspaper. Moscow has traditionally viewed that institute as expressing the official position of China. (For a Russian translation of the article, see here).
According to the Chinese writer, Beijing believes that Moscow not the Transbaikal authorities is being Russia’s new willingness to lease land to China but insists that this “progress” will not be complete until the Russian authorities agree to simplify procedures for Chinese workers to come there in large numbers.