|Sahit Muja: China|
Russia has among the highest abortion rates in the world, a major contributor to a worrying population decline that the Kremlin is under enormous pressure to stop.
Decline of Russia’s population is having its most dramatic impact in Far East.
Russian Far East region that was always largely devoid of human beings is losing its inhabitants.
Only 6.5 million people live in the Far East region, far less than the population of NYC, and 14 per cent fewer than in the late 1980s.
Population is scattered across a homeland so vast that it almost defies comprehension. Add together Britain, France and Germany and then multiply their combined areas by five and they would still be smaller than the Russian Far East.
Moreover, more than a third of the area’s last inhabitants are concentrated in only nine towns. The vast tracts between these isolated population center’s are empty. And even in the towns, the population is falling: Russian Far East is forecast to have only 4.5 million people by 2015.
In China the other side of the border, the picture is different.
China’s total population of 1.3 billion, at least 100 million inhabit the three provinces of Manchuria, directly adjacent to Russia.
This means that Manchuria already has a population density 62 times greater than the Russian Far East.
This vast disparity between the neighbor’s, unmatched anywhere else in the world, can only grow in the years ahead. This would probably create tension even without another crucial factor.
China has an insatiable appetite for the world’s natural resources to sustain an economic boom that powers ahead despite the global downturn.
The quest for raw materials is the central goal of the country’s foreign policy.
And virtually every natural resource imaginable is found just over the border.
Russian Far East have large reserves of natural gas, oil, diamonds and gold, while millions of square miles of birch and pine provide supplies of timber.
China densely packed country trying to keep its economy roaring ahead by laying its hands on natural resources, living alongside a largely empty region with huge mineral wealth and fewer inhabitants year on year.
Russia and China might operate a tactical alliance, but there is already tension between them over the Far East.
Moscow is wary of large numbers of Chinese settlers moving into this region, bringing timber and mining companies in their wake.
After the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991, Moscow lost much of its control over Russia’s most remote regions.
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