Country Reports

Three themes centered on East Asia drew considerable attention in Russia in the latter half of the winter of 2019: China, North Korea, and Eurasia. On China, Russia’s ambassador continued to tout the best relations ever, offering no hint of challenges, while others assessed whether, in light of troubled Sino-US relations, China now needs Russia enough to forge a relationship of equals instead of a hierarchical one favoring China. Yet, a case was reported of raw pressure by an apparently arrogant Chinese embassy official on a Russian newspaper, which dared to take a negative outlook on China’s economy. Another article carried a warning against falling into the Chinese “debt trap,” as others had done, if Russia were to agree to megaprojects. We follow this with an article on how China uses visas to shape not only its labor market but its relations with other states with mention of a visa war with Kazakhstan and tough restrictions hurting Kirghizia. Such hesitant pieces on China and bilateral relations due to unwelcome, Chinese assertive practices were countered by at least one publication critiquing China for passivity in leaving Russia to defend Venezuela against the US.

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