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August 1997, Volume 4, Number 8

Russia: Illegal Chinese

Yuri Arkhipov, deputy head of the immigration department of the Federal Migration Service, says illegal immigrants are pouring into the Russian Federation from Afghanistan and China. On July 2, the director of the Russian Federal Border Service reported that the number of illegal immigrants detained on the Russian border has jumped by more than 10 times over the past five years.

The Institute of Economics of the Russian Academy of Sciences' Far Eastern Center estimates that in 1993 the Chinese population in Russia's Far East is between 200,000 to two million. One Russian official says the 200,000 figure is realistic; the visibility and concentration of Chinese in several large cities, including Vladivostok, Khabarosck and Blagoveshchensk, has resulted in a misconception that all Russian Far East cities are overflowing with Chinese.

Beginning in 1990, the far eastern part of the Russia found itself cut off from deliveries of food from the western part. Food and manufactured goods from China replaced what had come from the west. By the end of 1993, 42 percent of all joint ventures registered in the far east had Chinese partners. In addition, goods from the far east of the Russian Federation began to enter the Chinese market; Russian exports to China rose 34 percent in 1993.

The number of Chinese legally working in Russia on a contract basis is 10,000 to 15,000. Another 10,000 to 12,000 Chinese students are in Russia.

In the late 19th century about a third of the Russian Far East's population was Chinese. The current Chinese population is estimated at less than three percent of the region's population.

President Yeltsin in July 1997 announced that Russia's GDP rose by one percent in 1997, the first growth after six years of decline. The worst-off Russians are pensioners and state workers-- as many as one-third of 148 million people--who often go unpaid to cover budget shortfalls.

"Situation on Russian borders is very difficult," TASS, July 2, 1997. Liliya Kuznetsova, "Illegal migration remains Russia's headache, says FMS chief," TASS, June 23, 1997. "Chinese Immigration: Is it Good or Bad for Russia," Current Digest of the Post-Soviet Press, June 11, 1997.