MOSCOW - Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev issued a veiled warning about China’s rising influence in Russia’s Far East, saying it was essential to defend the area against “excessive expansion by bordering states”. Medvedev also said it was “important not to allow negative manifestations including the formation of enclaves made up of foreign citizens.” His comments underlined the Kremlin’s suspicions that a steady influx of Chinese migrants may ultimately pose a threat to Russian hegemony in the remote populated territories of Siberia and the Far East.
Russia and China enjoy strong diplomatic and trade relations and have joined forces in the United Nations Security Council to block proposed sanctions on President Bashar al-Assad of Syria. But growing Chinese influence in Russia’s Far East - where street signs are often in both Russian and Chinese - has long been a source of tension. Resource-rich Russia is the world’s largest country by territory, but has seen its population of 143 million people fall in recent years, while resource-hungry China, situated immediately to the south, has a rising population of over 1.3 billion people. Medvedev, who was president from 2008 until May, raised the sensitive subject at a government meeting during a broader discussion of migration.