RUSSIA-CHINA China seizes Tatarstan

In the Tukaev province, construction work began on a huge trade-logistics complex named after Den Xiaoping. It is the first stage of a “special economic zone” geared toward the region’s oil-chemical industry, where Hikvision, a Chinese company blacklisted for engaging in forced labor in Xinjiang, already operates.

Moscow () – The authorities of the Russian republic of Tatarstan have reported that the construction of a huge logistics-commercial complex – which will bear the name Den Xiaoping – has begun in the province of Tukaev, on the border between Europe and Asia. The first stage involves an investment of more than 20,000 million rubles, about 250 million euros, to create a “special economic zone”, a center called “Alabuga”, which will open in the first half of 2024.

The set of structures, such as a series of Chinese boxes, will constitute the “Etilen 600” industrial park, which will offer all the necessary services for the parking of commercial cargo in the short and long term, loading and unloading work, order management of order, the organization of the transport and all the services that are required. Over time, a movement of 100,000 containers per year is expected. A small and medium capacity production of chemical materials will be installed that has access to raw materials from oil and gas extraction. The agreement between the Chinese “Alabuga” and the Russian “Sibur” was signed in August 2022, for a global investment of 1,300 billion rubles.

The logistics complex will start operating next year, Kazan administrators say, starting with a movement of eight trains a day. The oil chemical industry is destined for transport to China, trying not to trample too much on the sanctions decreed by the West, which limit the exchange of many chemical materials, while consumer goods and the necessary materials for the Russian industry will arrive from Beijing.

As confirmed by Aleksandr Gabuev, a contributor to the Carnegie Fund, “China has a great interest in the Tatarstan petrochemicals, although it is difficult to say how much the blockade of exports to Europe will be able to compensate”. However, Russia and its “energy” regions have no real alternatives, and China is the only partner capable of approaching pre-big break standards with the West.

Tatarstan’s economy depends on “relationships with giants”, as the director of the Independent Institute for Social Policy Natalia Zubarevich points out, “especially in the oil field.” According to the Ministry of Economy of the Tatar Republic, until 2021 more than 25% of the Kazan budget depended on the extraction of energy materials, and 37.9% came from the processing and refining of oil, chemical materials and derivatives.

Right now, China exports to Russia a very significant share of semiconductors, chips and other materials for various purposes that are already on US sanctions lists. So there is little concern about being subjected to “sanctions high schools”. One of the most active Chinese companies in this field is Hikvision, already blacklisted for participating in the persecutions in Xinjiang, benefiting from forced labor in “re-education camps” for Uyghurs, Kazakhs and even Tatars of whatever. of China is called “East Turkistan”.

On the other hand, Hikvision is already very active in Tatarstan, where Chinese technologies are applied for the “safe cities” system, which uses video cameras for monitoring and identity identification, especially near schools, kindergartens, parks and places meeting audiences. Sanctions are circumvented with schemes, already well proven, of property rotation of the numerous structures involved.

Despite these grandiose projects, many experts still believe that China does not intend to expand cooperation with Russia too much, but rather focuses on Central Asian countries. However, at this moment it already controls a vast logistics-commercial network throughout the Asian part of the Russian Federation, “putting its eggs in different baskets”, as Gabuev explains. One of the most strategic areas for Chinese interests is the Volga and Urals, in the republics of Tatarstan, Bashkortostan and Chuvasia.

Photo: Flick / Alexei

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