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“A new, English-speaking generation of young people with weak or distorted notions of Russian history, culture and politics is forming in China,” lamented a report on relations between the two countries by the Russian International Affairs Council.Anti-Communist groups like the Falun Gong, a spiritual movement banned by Beijing as an “evil cult,” have also seized on the cause of “lost Chinese territory” in Russia to try, mostly in vain, to rally opposition to the governing party in Beijing.Claims that Russia’s Far East should be Chinese date from the Jin dynasty, established in the 12th century by Jurchens, a non-Chinese people from Manchuria.The Chinese Communist Party, which rejoiced at the recovery of Hong Kong and Macau at the end of the 1990s as a final victory over the British and the Portuguese, has tried since to narrow the country’s historical grievances to the South China Sea and Taiwan, vowing one day to recover the island — seized by Japan in 1895 and later by Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist government — and complete what Beijing calls the “wiping clean” of past humiliations.Mikhalkov said he would not make such a film because he did not do “horror movies” and did not want to offend his Chinese friends.All the same, the scenario he presented along with footage showing the Chinese People’s Liberation Army training for battle revealed a deep fear of China that still grips many Russians. Larin, the director of the Institute of History, Archaeology and Ethnography of the Peoples of the Far East in Vladivostok, said he met frequently with Chinese officials and scholars, and “they never raise the question” of Vladivostok’s ownership.Yet, like nearly all Chinese who visit a city whose Russian name means “master of the East,” Mr.Cui is absolutely certain about one thing: The place should really be called Haishenwai, the name it had back when China was master in these parts.
Such concerns recently gained prime-time treatment on state-run Russian television when Nikita Mikhalkov, a prominent film director known for his nationalist and somewhat paranoid views, spoke at length about a film script he said he had received.
Eyeing a Russian cruiser moored nearby, he quickly added, “We are not in a hurry to get it back.”For leaders in Beijing and, needless to say, Moscow, Vladivostok is indisputably part of Russia.
A series of agreements since 1991 have demarcated their 2,615-mile-long border, clearly fixing what belongs to whom.
Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, declared in 2005 after the fate of a few contested islands was finally settled that “for the first time in our history, bilateral relations with China will not be marred by a border dispute.”Nobody at an official level in Beijing is asking that the agreed border be changed, but having for decades stoked nationalist rage against so-called unequal treaties like the one imposed by Russia in 1860, China’s governing Communist Party has left ordinary people convinced that large parts of Siberia and the Russian Far East were unjustly seized.
This is despite the fact that the area was never really in the hands of Han Chinese but was controlled instead by non-Chinese peoples who lived in northeast Asia and who periodically swept down to declare themselves masters of China.
VLADIVOSTOK, Russia — Cui Rongwei, a businessman from northeastern China, could not afford a trip to Paris, so he settled for an exotic taste of Europe right on China’s doorstep.