Sunday, July 17, 2016

Russya and China: Again

East Coast Russya with Amur River center
     It's hard to overlook China with its billion citizens.  Russya is hard to overlook because it is the largest country in the world and sits right next door to China, sharing 2000 miles of common border, stretching from central Asia to the Pacific Ocean in the east.  Mr. Putin and Company, situated comfortably in Moscow's Kremlin Fortress, have stressed cooperation with China repeatedly, meeting 15 times with China's premier.  So, what does cooperation look like at ground level?  Let's have a close up look.
       We'll have to go east, to the Amur River,  that long broad line that makes up a portion of the shared border.  Crossing the river is a problem since there are no bridges, yet.  In hopes of providing better economic exchange, the two countries decided, together, to build a bridge to facilitate the shipment of iron ore from Russya to China.   China agreed to build 2/3's of the structure, Russya 1/3.  The Chinese section-2 kilometers long, was completed in 2014.   The Russyan  portion, 1 kilometer(+/-), has yet to break ground.   Is it money?  We know the rouble has taken several hits over the last  year.  No, it seems that 3 state run entities have been arguing over whose land will get the bridge substructures and whose favorite company will get the contract.   Ahhh, life in Russya: not much has changed.
      Some bureaucrats(apparatchiks) in the Kremlin view the bridge as a path for Chinese armor if a conflict were to erupt.   Some see the delay as evidence of a sclerotic economy hobbled by centralized control; while still others see it as business as usual in the largest country in the world.  The exact location is almost 2000 miles from Moskova in the Jewish Autonomous Oblast in the city of Nizhneleninskoye(there's a Lenin in there somewhere), a city of 18,000 souls.  Its larger neighbor, Kharbarosvk, is about 110 miles to the northeast.   Across the river, in China, is a low lying region of swamps and marshes.   Since 1991, the city has lost almost half its population.   Part of the problem is the lack of investment by state run and private Russyan companies, while in China, privately owned companies have been allowed to invest.   A Russyan official(?) said their section will be completed in 2018.  Right.

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