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Russian weakness sparks fear of thriving Chinese growth

(Global Times)

08:51, August 23, 2012

In the 1950s, the song Moscow-Beijing: Our Friendship Forever was very popular in the Soviet Union. In those years, the Soviet Union provided lots of aid for China. In the 1950s and 1960s, China built its heavy and defense industries with Soviet help.

More than 5,000 Chinese students were sent to Moscow, and about 10,000 Russian engineers and consultants arrived to work in China. However, in the mid-1950s, Beijing realized the deficiencies in the Soviet model, and started to find its own way of development.

In 1978, Chinese leaders adopted new methods of reform, which have led to the rapid growth of both the national economy and civil livelihoods.

In 1996, China and Russia established a partnership of strategic coordination based on equality and mutual benefit and oriented toward the 21st century. By 2008, China and Russia signed an agreement which put an end to boundary tensions between the two sides through finishing the demarcation work of the 4,300-kilometer boundary.

But despite these, the friendly partnership achieved between the two governments doesn't seem to be fully understood and accepted at the grass-roots level on both sides. This is largely related to the reforms in Russia, which are quite different from its counterpart in China.

Post-reform Russia, especially in the 1990s, was overridden with social crisis. The public was discontented with everything, including worsening living standards, collapsing production, political shake-up, and the "swarm" of Chinese immigrants.

Nationalism in Russia soared. Ordinary Russians saw China as the biggest threat, and the stereotype remains. Many Russians still believe that Chinese goods are poor quality, Chinese immigrants are endlessly thronging to Russia and China seeks to expand into Russian territory. In ordinary Russians' eyes, the typical Chinese is an uneducated, rustic and sloppily dressed peasant.

Since the early 1990s, the Russian media have largely produced negative reports on China. Horrifying stories appeared periodically, such as that Chinese lied to and beat customers, Chinese kidnapped their own compatriots, and that Chinese took away Russia's oil, wood and women.
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