Country Report: Russia (July 2020)
In the late spring and early summer of 2020, Russians were pondering the meaning of the Sino-US downward spiral. Was it good for their country? Was bipolarity replacing their long-claimed framework of multipolarity? If bipolarity was ascendant, can Russia avoid entanglement and keep considerable autonomy strategically and as a civilization? How should the impact of the pandemic be assessed? Why is the emerging era different from the period of the Cold War?
This reorientation to bipolarity represented a paradigm shift. The result was reduced attention to “Greater Eurasia” and the “turn to the East.” In conditions of relative isolation resulting from the pandemic and a dearth of diplomacy, despite the struggling state of Russia’s economy and the blow to earlier pretenses, the mood was far from pessimistic. It was still assumed that ties to China would not become unduly dependent, reducing Russia’s leverage, and that troubled relations with the US would not hinder Russia’s room to maneuver. Left aside by most was the threat of “wolf warrior diplomacy” being turned against Russia, seen in the early July spat over Vladivostok. Over-optimism about Europe finding common cause with Russia was one response.
The messages were mostly consistent. Russia would criticize the US, not China. If emotionalism in Chinese society targeted Russia, it was not government-approved. Bipolarity would replace multipolarity, but Russia retained its room to maneuver. The new cold war would see the US try to bring about regime change again, but this time it would fail. 2020 is a sign of what lies ahead.
In Rossiya v Global’noi Politike Timofei Bordachev asked whether it will be bipolarity or balance. On July 8 he observed that China is emboldened by the contrasting impact of the pandemic as the US loses international authority and wrestles with internal problems even if it can remain strong enough to resist a newly self-confident China, while European powers are reduced to symbolism and Russia is still on the sidelines. India, Brazil, and others are not yet effective counterweights. Bordachev argues that there are serious grounds to speak of the arrival of a new bipolarity, but he considers this approach dangerous, forcing other states to take sides and be confrontational. Unlike the unique Cold War situation, today there are no longer two parallel worlds. Since 1999 Russian foreign policy has been soft revisionism, while China’s, despite talk of soft revisionism, has a more radical agenda at the expense of US interests. Russia and states in Central Asia have felt the more assertive changes in Chinese behavior, as in the 2013 call for the Belt and Road, but Russia did not take this as a reason for conflict, given the low value of the economic resources of Central Asia for China. In contrast, loss of control over resources is a blow to the existence of the US economic order. The new cold war will be more dangerous and less controlled from two centers. A more flexible system allows allies of each leader room to respond to separate situations and pursue their own interests and values. In their ethnic and China policies, Europeans diverge from a strict bipolar system, taking the growing Sino-US conflict as an opportunity and not viewing China as an ideological alternative or existential threat. Germany and France, much as Russia, strive to play the role of middleman. Current discussions in Russia are dominated by the argument that the Sino-US conflict is more an opportunity than a threat for Russia. Neither side offers an appealing universal ethic or an ideology pretending to this. Talk of bipolarity may miss the flexibility of the emerging system.
In the same issue Dmitrii Efremenko wrote about Trump and the new bipolarity, seen in two distinct techno-economic platforms, but stressed the big influence of the triangle with Russia. So far, he insists, the pandemic has not led to radical change in US foreign policy. Rather, the US is using the situation for intensifying pressure on its main geopolitical rival. As a realist, Trump is concentrating on the confrontation with China and trying to stabilize relations with Russia. The dominant world dynamic is bipolarity. Using Hong Kong and Xinjiang for its political arguments, Washington is drawing one more “red line” with China. Aware of the collapse of the Soviet Union, China is alert to synchronized external pressure leading to an internal crisis, as in 1989 in China. The US is ready to pounce on China and on Russia, but it is more restrained with Russia due to the danger of loss of control over Russia’s nuclear arsenal and China becoming the main beneficiary of its disintegration. The article focuses on triangularity, seeing Russia as one of the powers ahead in military might, economic, scientific-technological, and resource potential. If Russia does not pretend to be the leader, it enjoys great freedom of political maneuver and real prospects for exerting critical influence on the ongoing transformation of the world order.
Opposing China in offshore balancing and Russia in the post-Soviet space drives them closer is one view in the US debate on the triangle, which the author accepts. Russia and China give each other strategic depth. Trump has added a qualitative shift in the clash with China. Russia lacks the possibility of forging its own techno-economic platform and has no alternative but to join China’s along with the rest of the EEU, Iran, Pakistan, North Korea, and some other states. The thrust of the article is on China’s success in fighting the pandemic, the faulty US anti-Chinese response, China’s growing edge in bipolarity, and Russia’s opportunity as the US slips while China is not yet strong enough for open confrontation. Stress is put on differences with the old bipolarity of the Cold War such as the absence of ideology apart from the US side and the weight of other powers. Russia will widen its room to maneuver despite the confrontation with the US and the solidarity with China strategically. Rushed attempts to rhetorically distance itself from both poles do not improve relations with the US and are not useful for China ties. It must preserve all the advantages of its special relationship with China without loss of its strategic autonomy, although that will be more difficult in bipolarity. The article ends with the prospect of a grouping of Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine boosting Russia’s position in the strategic triangle.
Sergey Karaganov and Dmitry Suslov in the May/June issue of Rossiya v Global’noi Politike discussed new ideas for foreign policy after the pandemic, which is viewed as a powerful catalyst for renationalization of economies and politics. Only sovereign states can deal with it. Praising “brilliant” Russian foreign policy of the past decade, the authors see their country returning to the top league of world politics, but they warn that ideology is lagging. The idea of multipolarity is passé—the agenda of the 1990s and 2000s in response to unipolarity. Russia’s Great Eurasian Partnership is promising, and China’s Community of Shared Destiny remains unclear in practice. The proposal is to stand by political, cultural, and civilizational diversity as well as sovereignty and one’s own path as an independent global center of power. Russia can resist any attempts to impose hegemony of any sort. This begs the question of how to cope with bipolarity and of tying one’s country to China in this struggle. Dropping multipolarity as a focus obscures this reality.
Andrei Parshev on May 26 in km.ru assessed relations with China, observing that the US clash with China, which it is losing, means it needs allies. The EU is now unreliable; so Russia may be sought as a situational ally. But for Russia this would be an inconceivable stupidity, when China is its only support in conditions of sanctions. Ties to China have a positive influence, defending Russia from all types of trade embargoes. There is danger in a move away from China: a “fifth column,” different economic interests, and some racist phenomena in Russia toward China, seen in closing the border to China at the start of the pandemic but long keeping it open to Brazil and much of the West. Chinese rightly saw this as racism. American anti-Chinese propaganda is translated through Russia’s liberal media, calling out China for the “genocide of Tibetans,” and “guilt for the pandemic.” Yes, China is stigmatized for taking lumber, but it is Russia’s fault for not processing it, and Finland takes it without any concern in Russia. Russia should not sacrifice its vital interests, the author concludes, but the thrust of the article is to avoid offending China and to repulse the US.
On May 20 in Profil’ Fedor Lulyanov warned that Russia is being distracted from its internal problems by the cold war between the US and China. International experts agree that Russia should not take sides. While sympathizing with China and wisely avoiding picking a quarrel with it, Russia still should not let emotions get in the way. Craving for Europe has been replaced again by resentment. Bitter disappointment at the failure of a breakthrough to the West had led to moving away from West-centrism and a less emotional approach despite civilizational debates. The new cold war could arouse a surge of new passions. Some have replaced old notions of the cultural superiority of the West with claims that Europe’s culture is closer to Russia’s and that of the alienation of Asian culture or, conversely, that the West is inherently hostile and the East offers protection. Given the transitional period Russia is in, Lukyanov warns that is dangerous to become entangled in positioning in the Sino-US world, ignoring debate on its own development. He finds that politics based on "civilizational choice" is inadvisable in a fragmented, culturally and ideologically heterogeneous environment, and he draws a parallel with Russia’s ill-advised entry into WWI, when it took sides. This appears to be a warning against signs that Russia will take sides and against optimistic assumptions steeped in misjudgments about civilizations.
Andrei Tsygankov in Profil’ on May 28 asked why are US attitudes toward China getting worse. He argues that the America-centric order is unravelling, Sinophobia is rising in the US, and the pandemic has now aggravated the problem. Members of the Trump administration are faulted for their false accusations and extreme demands. Charges against China come also from Democrats, including Biden, who has repeated the Obama thesis that the US should write the rules of world trade. Anti-Chinese attitudes are rising beyond the political class. The level of Sinophobia exceeds that of Russophobia. At a time of global transition, questions of foreign policy are more important. Trump says that only he fights for US interests, raising China as an election issue, distracting from problems with the virus. Yet more important for the continuous rise of Sinophobia was the realization that China is already a real superpower with an authoritarian tradition taken as a threat to liberal culture. There is also a role for national identity, of whites against Asians, drawing on sentiments dating back to the war against Japan. So far, neither Beijing nor Washington is ready to go to the extreme with an ideological confrontation and division of the world into two parts, adds Tsygankov. No matter who wins in the November election, he will not only compete fiercely with China but negotiate with China too. Russia should do all it can to avoid falling dependent to one or another side but also not become a casualty of their conflict is Tsygankov’s concluding message.
On July 27 Vladimir Skozyrev in Nezavisimaya Gazeta warned that the US intends to drag Moscow into a crusade against China, insisting that China is similar to the USSR. In Beijing there are now notices of where to take shelter in case of an air raid, a sign of the seriousness of the response to Pompeo’s threat to rid China of the communist party. But US calculations that it can achieve regime change in China as in the USSR is an illusion. Legitimacy is boosted by the rapid rise in living standards. Closing the Houston consulate followed by the closure of the Chengdu consulate deals a further blow to Sino-US relations. Pompeo has signaled the start of a crusade to be waged everywhere and to draw Moscow into a war on communism as a kind of Frankenstein. Chinese refer to the him and other Trump aides vocal in this cause as the “gang of four.” Russians see a repeat of the US agenda to destroy the Soviet regime and its alliances from the 1972 breakthrough with China, but such methods will not work on China, where minorities are few and have no right to succession and there is scant interest in spreading communism. In response to Pompeo’s desire for Russia to join against China, Peskov said it never would join in an alliance against anyone.
China and the World
On May 29 Meduza covered Hong Kong’s loss of autonomy as China took advantage of the pandemic. The idea of criminalizing crimes against the state security of “mainland” China in Hong Kong has always been unpopular, readers learn. Protests fizzled out due to the virus, and China pounced. The article concludes that the PRC can achieve “the elimination of hostile forces”—but Hong Kong will lose any value for which it was worth fighting for full control.
Kommersant on July 16 headlined that Washington was continuing its political and economic attack on Beijing. A law on sanctions over Hong Kong and dropping preferential trade for the city; blame for Covid-19, charges that Biden’s entire career is a gift to Communist China, and other anti-communist initiatives were discussed with European governments, which the US is eager to persuade to drop Huawei 5G. China has responded with restraint, readers are told, on the South China Sea and the Uighur sanctions, limiting itself just to words on Hong Kong. To defend its interests China does only what is necessary but warns of a severe response if the US stays on this course. China is doing all it can to avoid escalation, according to this sympathetic treatment.
On June 3 MKRU asserted that China is preparing for war over Hong Kong and Taiwan, citing the recent third session of the NPC. Strategic tolerance during Hong King riots of 2014 and 2019 was related to the absence of a legal framework to proceed. Now there will be a law, which does not infringe on the rights of residents, affecting hooliganism lovers and organizers of sabotage, terrorism, and secession. Order and stability will restore Hong Kong to its reputation as a safe haven, needed for the financial transactions for which it is renowned. For Washington, Hong Kong and Taiwan have become two pedals that can be pressed on the bike of the Cold War with China. For Beijing, the problems of Hong Kong and Taiwan are also interconnected. Beijing is sticking with “one country, two systems” and the “1992 consensus,” for Taiwan, but its patience is running out, and Washington is getting closer and closer to the “red line” to open support for separatism. China is no longer afraid of a sharp-edged confrontation. The point of no return in Sino-American relations has been passed is the verdict in this article.
Alexander Gabuev in ChinaDigest Newsletter on June 1 wrote about studies of the Chinese elite.
There have been many recent conspiratorial theories about China, such as that regional clans of the CCP are engaged in a fierce struggle. Such myths are harmful. Young Komsomol veterans centered in Wuhan led by Li Keqiang and “pro-American,” fearful of a regular rotation of elites, are supposedly at war with the Zhejiang clique of Xi Jinping. The COVID-19 virus and a blockade of Wuhan seemingly results. Past history reveals strong clan connections affecting elite affairs through the 1990s, leaving a legacy of struggle between the Shanghai and Komsomol cliques. The princelings rose to the forefront afterwards. Li Cheng is cited for his breakdown into elitists (Shanghai) under Jiang Zemin and populists under Hu Jintao, drawing on the Komsomol group. Gabuev notes that in 2012 he gave a breakdown of the elite, which was supplemented by Ivan Zuenko later. Already, the names being given did not reflect the reality. Xi Jinping and Bo Xilai were put in one clan despite their struggle. The situation changed sharply after Xi took power. He purged the elite, constructing authority in a Xi-centric system, as Igor Denisov calls it. Xi’s position reminds us of that of Putin plus a much more obedient Chinese bureaucratic machine and a nearly complete destruction of groups and interests able to balance him. Quarrels endure, but not groups. Relations with the US are the main question in foreign policy, invoking varied views but no pro- or anti-US factions inside the CCP. Views of Russia are not so important. No pro-Russia party exists. Gabuev warns against linear parallels being drawn with Russian scenes.
Vzgliad on July 7 discussed the arrest of a CCP critic, comparing it to the treatment of Sakharov but adding Xi Jinping has other concerns. In both cases, criticisms of authoritarianism were seen. The article stresses Xi’s concentration of posts and power, recognizing that he has no serious rival as he basks in the “new Xi Jinping army” and “Xi Jinping thought” and rewards loyalists while stripping others of influence. His masterful purges are equated with Mao’s, this time with market reforms, not leftist radicalism. The economic and social scene is frozen, Uighurs are in camps, and censorship has become severe. Youth criticize Xi and make fun of him as Winnie-the-Pooh. Xi has won this round, but there will be others, readers are reminded.
On May 20 Sergei Andreev wrote in RSMD about Confucius Institutes closing in Sweden, noting a global pattern of more negative attitudes toward China. Some are calling for punishing China for the virus, as contrasts are being drawn between the “free world of the West” and the “despotic aggression of the East.” But this is just a part of the contradiction between China’s growing economic influence and the stagnating West, albeit a sign of new panic. Sweden is no exception despite its fame for tolerance. A person born in China went to Sweden in the 1980s and stayed before setting up a publishing company in Hong Kong before he was kidnapped in Thailand in 2015 and taken to China with no information provided to Sweden. Another Swede was arrested in China and charged with threatening state security. Other incidents are noted too, including a visit of the Dalai Lama. Stockholm University was first in Europe to open a Confucius Institute in 2005 and first to close it in 2015 for violating academic freedom, surveilling Chinese students, and serving the aims of the CCP. Three other institutes operated in the country—one closing in 2016 and others in 2019 amid talk of espionage activities, while one Confucius School closed in 2020. Cities broke partnership relations in China, some reporting threats from the Chinese embassy. The article pointed to Sweden as a test case for Chinese methods of pressure on small countries as China seeks to break EU unity and boost Huawei’s presence. No effort, however, is made to draw linkages with China’s treatment of Russia or Russian responses.
On June 9 Timofei Bordachev in Valdai Club wrote about how Europe and Russia relate to the new cold war. China does not threaten the interests of the leading European states, which are increasingly seeking not to unconditionally support their US allies for the first time in 75 years. The Sino-US clash results from the fact it is impossible for both simultaneously to reach their goals. Conflict is inevitable. China seeks to delay it; the US insists on bringing it into the open and proceed when it has some chance of victory. Europe may suffer the most, forcing choices. China does not pose either ideological alternative or an existential threat. It supports multilateral institutions. Unlike Australia and Japan, these US allies see a chance to use the conflict to widen their space, much as Russia does, as a friend of China useful for balancing the other side. Thus, we can expect the diplomatic positions of these states to draw closer. This cold war will differ from the last one, despite what many in the US want, with ample diplomatic maneuvering.
On May 18 Ivan Zuenko in Carnegie.ru discussed the Sino-Russian border in the context of the pandemic, finding no cause for relations to be damaged. His comments about the border town of Suifenhe as a new point of concentration of the disease bear attention. If once it was called “northern Shenzhen” in the hope that it would be a bridge to Russia, it is now “northern Wuhan” due to the Chinese entering it from Russia. The virus had gone from Wuhan to Europe to Russia back to Northeast China with returning Chinese, who from panic were rushing to depart from dangerous Russia—often through charters from Moscow to Vladivostok and then by land across the border to Suifenhe, a city with high-rise residences and shopping centers that attracted scores of Russian tourists. Despite high Chinese hopes, the city stagnated in the 2010s—joint projects did not materialize, a de facto visa-free regime for Russians, and free circulation of the ruble did not have the intended impact, and the status of the city was downgraded in China. Closed tightly on April 20, the city was bypassed by Chinese aiming to make it home any way possible.
On May 26 Igor Denisov and Ivan Zuenko in Profil’ asked why China’s new diplomatic language sounds so rough, noting too the stylistic similarity of the aggressive US rhetoric toward China with that toward the Soviet Union as an expansionist dictatorship of spies and of crude propaganda and falsifications. What is new is that Chinese are answering in kind, under Xi Jinping showing that China is ready to win in a confrontation and that the West does not have a monopoly on discourse. Beginning in 2018, after Trump launched a trade war, China’s tone shifted, including through undiplomatic diplomats, such as those in Kazakhstan angrily reacting to any criticism of China and in Russia demanding the removal from Nezavisimaya Gazeta of wording on the slowing of China’s economy with threats of never being allowed into China. In the West this is called “wolf warrior diplomacy.” Diplomats must demonstrate their ideological fealty and intolerance of China’s enemies. In doubtful situations, it is best to be tough. Russia, readers are told, should hesitate to draw conclusions about China’s growing self-confidence. In conditions of a cold war, it has no alternative to its quasi-ally, even if Chinese should take into account foreign audiences. Unpleasant situations will constantly arise, even in Sino-Russian relations, giving rise to Sinophobia. Simply repeating the mantra of a “community of common destiny” without comprehensible plans and dialogue will not strengthen the “voice of China,” readers are told.
On July 15 Nezavisimaya Gazeta discussed the state of Sino-Russian relations, stressing the past non-ideological nature of the bond and that Russia does not belong to any bloc, but it warns of. Putin adding a new ideological component to relations. The article reminds readers of a recent Weibo attack on the name of Vladivostok, harking back to China’s historical humiliation, anti-Russian emotions raised by a Chinese diplomat in Pakistan, and the spillover from the Sino-Indian border clash. It indicates that while China’s leaders do not intend at this time to cause a dispute with Russia, they are artificially arousing emotions over history. Many experts predict that the world will be bipolar, leaving Russia in a not very enviable position. Even as people in responsible posts say that Russia does not want to get dragged into the confrontation, it asks if Russia can stay aloof, given its weakness and challenges with the West and Putin’s dreams of restoring Russia to great power status, entering conflicts without an end, narrowing its room to maneuver needed to weaken China’s grip. This article challenges assumptions others make.
On June 16 Rossiiskaya Gazeta assessed North Korea’s policy toward South Korea, noting the destruction of the liaison office on June 14 after threats toward Seoul about leaflets being sent by balloon. Further steps were promised. Moon is known to feel frustrated that he has not found a way to draw closer to the North. Despite this blow, he will persist. The situation may return to the edge of war, but the North realizes that the next president in South Korea could be much less supportive of the dialogue Moon keeps pursuing.
In warhead.su on June 19 Konstantin Asmolov asked why North Korea blew up the inter-Korean center. The leaflets coming from the South stoop beneath any normal boundaries. On May 31 500,000 such leaflets were released by balloon with a promise that on June 25 one million would be released. Litter piles up in the border region. Much here undermines claims to be engaged in an heroic struggle for the freedom of the oppressed northerners. The inter-Korean agreement has a point about stopping all hostile activities. Many residents near the border in South Korea hate these rule-violators, who come and leave quickly. The structure that was destroyed has no real significance. It was a wake-up call, aimed at forestalling the leaflets of June 25 and responding to the personalized attacks on Kim Jong-un. The sharper Sino-US clash is also a factor. The North supports China on Hong Kong and has begun to criticize the US for its attacks on China and to cover the trade war, making clear that it is on China’s side. In South Korea there is ambivalence, given the great unpleasantness China could cause and the blow Trump could strike, as he has threatened. In the SMA talks Trump began with a five-fold increase since lowered to 50 percent, and Moon offered 13 percent and no more. Trump could support the pro-American forces in the ROK. Moon is forced to sit on the American seat. With North Korea on the Chinese seat, will the two Koreas need each other? Moon, a leftist populist, would not be forgiven by a substantial leftist electorate for turning to the US. His high popularity level rests on striking an equilibrium.
On July 7 Rossiiskaya Gazeta asked why Trump just sent Biegun to Seoul, arguing that his main aim was to convince it to stick to the course on North Korea amid signs of a more independent one. The plane landed on a US base to minimize the delegation’s contacts with Koreans in light of the pandemic. Despite rumors of a meeting at Panmunjom with North Koreans, the North insisted they had nothing to discuss. Talks with the South were not easy, given its wavering on sanctions and its talk of ending the joint working group, the aim of which is to give the US control on all ROK activity with the North to the displeasure of many in South Korea. New appointments in Seoul favor those who would break from Washington on this. The article noted that Beijing had persuaded the North to limit hostile actions toward Seoul and that the North was giving Seoul a chance to renew cooperation. The appointments suggest it is under consideration, causing consternation in Washington. With US elections approaching, Moon may see a chance to break ranks. A second goal of the visit was to draw the ROK into active participation in the anti-Chinese US “economic prosperity network.” Seoul wants to stay out of this quarrel. There are also host-nation support talks. It will be a tense day, readers are told, with uncertain results.
On July 10 Sergei Strokan’ in Kommersant anticipated an October surprise, saying thar Kim Jong-un is preparing for the US elections and Donald Trump is ready for new dialogue. Noting that Steve Biegun was visiting Seoul and Tokyo, he saw the start of a new round of multilateral diplomacy on the Korean Peninsula with a Trump-Kim summit possible. Recent harsh talk in Pyongyang is brushed aside since all that counts are the signals coming directly from Kim and Trump. If the US and its Western allies consider that the ball is in Pyongyang’s court to get back to talks, China disagrees, insisting on US sincerity. China made clear that the key to managing the situation on the peninsula is in the White House. Bolton is cited for his anticipation of such an initiative, although he had argued that the main motive for a meeting, if it takes place, will be the desire to earn political points in the electoral race. For Strokhan’ the key issue is not the North’s steps toward denuclearization but the US security guarantees, causing the breakdown of talks. China too is focused on resolving the legitimate concerns of the DPRK, readers are told.
On June 3 in Profil’ Andrey Lankov asked why the US is so loved in South Korea—one of only four states, according to a Pew poll, where more than three-quarters of the people have a positive attitude. He argues that in the foreseeable future Koreans will not only not stop loving the United States, but, rather, do it even more. One factor is that American missionaries brought modernity with religion and after Japan took control Christianity was not the religion of the colonialists but of resistance to colonialism associated with the US. After 1950 the Americans also turned into allies in the fight against the communists of the North and saviors from the Kim Il-sung regime. While the 386 generation in the 1980s-90s saw the US as the chief sponsor of authoritarianism, conservatives clung to the US in an almost religious manner, and the left, once in power, changed its tune. The rise of China led even the left to view the US as protection against pressure from Beijing. America’s cultural and ideological influence on South Korea is enormous. A significant part of the country’s intellectual leaders studied in the United States. When applying for a job, an American master’s or doctoral degree is valued by recruiters significantly higher than a European, Japanese or Australian degree, and degrees from other countries are usually not considered at all. English today plays the same role as classical Chinese did in the 19th century—a cultured person claiming a high position in society must know it.
On July 5 Vladimir Skosyrev in Nezavisimaya Gazeta covered the Chinese blog on Vladivostok, saying that the 160th anniversary reminded Chinese unequal treaties and that the city does not leave Chinese nationalists in peace. Just mentioning the occasion prompted a wave of negative emotions from Chinese bloggers. Latent anti-western feelings can be turned against Russia. The objective references to the event by the Chinese embassy were natural, and the city maintains close economic and cultural ties to the PRC. Nonetheless, it sparked a heated outcry on line. Some saw it as a bitter reminder of China’s 19th-century humiliation. A journalist for the state and a diplomat in Pakistan said that the shame will not be forgotten and repeated the Chinese name for the city. One author went so far as to say that the land of our ancestors will return to us. Questions of sovereignty and borders have become a very sensitive theme, given the new law on Hong Kong and the intensified conflict between China and India, which may account for the uproar over Vladivostok despite the 2001 Sino-Russian agreement. Only a minority are so aroused, but periodically such outbursts occur. They should not be taken as a reflection of state policy, but one should not forget about the emotions in society, the article concludes.