One event which passed unremarked in the midst of the current media storm was the first China-Russia Expo which was held in early July in Harbin. Under the theme “new opportunities, new platform” , this international exhibition brought together Russian and Chinese businessmen and their respective industries in an “innovative, open and international” space.
Thirty regional Russian delegations attended the Expo, as well as heads of twelve federal agencies and representatives of 200 firms including significant players from the tech and aviation sectors; clearly Russia, and especially the Russian Far East, took the event seriously. Alongside discussions of a new target for $200 billion in annual trade turnover between China and Russia, there were also exciting talks concerning cooperation in space exploration and navigation systems. And as one would have expected, the Amur and Primorsky regions which border China were well represented. The former showcasing nine projects and the latter proposing improved transport connections between the regional hubs of Harbin and Vladivostok.
So it may be au courant – both in domestic Russian and the international media – to boast Russia’s strong ties with its Chinese neighbours, but these connections are far from something new. A city which is most famous nowadays for its annual ice festival, Harbin in fact has long historic connections with Russia. Shanghai might have the Bund with its old stone British, American and Japanese banks, but walking along Harbin’s pedestrianised Central Avenue you’ll find more eclectic Russian buildings than many of the city’s near neighbours in Russia itself!