The border, all 2,738 miles of it, is the legacy of the Convention of Peking of 1860 and other unequal pacts between a strong, expanding Russia and a weakened China after the Second Opium War. (Other European powers similarly encroached upon China, but from the south. Hence the former British foothold in Hong Kong, for example.)
The 1.35 billion Chinese people south of the border outnumber Russia’s 144 million almost 10 to 1. The discrepancy is even starker for Siberia on its own, home to barely 38 million people, and especially the border area, where only 6 million Russians face over 90 million Chinese. With intermarriage, trade and investment across that border, Siberians have realized that, for better or for worse, Beijing is a lot closer than Moscow.
The vast expanses of Siberia would provide not just room for China’s huddled masses, now squeezed into the coastal half of their country by the mountains and deserts of western China. The land is already providing China, “the factory of the world,” with much of its raw materials, especially oil, gas and timber. Increasingly, Chinese-owned factories in Siberia churn out finished goods, as if the region already were a part of the Middle Kingdom’s economy. __ China Will Reclaim Siberia
Under Putin, Russia is becoming mired in a number of violent conflicts across its borders with Eastern Europe. As a result of Putin’s misplaced aggressions plus relatively low prices of Russia’s fiscal life’s blood — oil & gas (gas prices are tied to oil prices) — Russia’s ability to control and develop Siberian resources is beginning to lapse.
The Russian economy is suffering — with inflation approaching 20% according to some data from Russian retailers — and Russians are beginning to express uneasiness over Putin’s willingness to sacrifice Russia and Russians to prop up his own prestige and sense of manliness.
“A war with Ukraine, that’s the most ridiculous, the most idiotic thing that Putin could have come up with,” Smagurov said. “We have put ourselves in such a position that we’re against everybody — against Europe, against ourselves, against the United States, against normal life.” __ http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/russian-peace-march-draws-tens-of-thousands-in-support-of-ukraine/2014/09/21/c5a45f35-b07c-4e7b-81ae-8c7d8fcaa0bd_story.html
But that is the way things are in Putin’s Russia.
Foreign capital is shunning Russia, and Russian capital is fleeing the country. Russia’s banks are already reporting large losses due to Putin’s Ukrainian adventure, and the future seems likely to pile larger losses upon larger losses. In view of Russia’s continuing violent assaults against Ukraine, the EU is preparing yet more economic sanctions.
As Russia loses prestige and economic ground in Europe, it is in danger of losing control of the source of most of its wealth — Siberia. The former world superpower is falling — in slow motion collapse — to fit into Moscow, St. Petersburg, and surrounding lands.
Russia has made so many enemies under Putin, and under the USSR, that many factions will be standing in line to grab a piece of Russia when the nation’s government next collapses. Whether there will be anything left that could be called “Russia” is not a certainty.
IBT: Do you expect Russia’s population to keep declining?
LIOTTA: Yes. We should expect to see between a quarter and as much as a third of Russia’s current population simply vanish in the next 35 years — a loss of more than 30 million people….
There is another problem Russia has as well. Its population is aging. Russians age 65 or older will comprise 20 percent of the population a decade from now.
IBT: Are life expectancy rates in Russia much lower than in Western Europe?
LIOTTA: Yes, by about a decade. In very rough terms, since life expectancies vary widely by states, life expectancies for western Europe are 77 years, for Russia they 67 years.
… Russia is literally vanishing in eastern Siberia, making the region quite tempting for China. Too few people without enough immigrants for replacement labor could seriously affect Russia’s future power. __ Neverending Collapse
A shortage of working age / military age / breeding age Russian males rushes into the breech that is currently filled by an older generation of males busy in the act of self-destruction.
Who’s that in the corner smoking a cigar and playing the Neville Chamberlain card? Why it’s President Obama!