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Wave of wrath: why Russians are protesting against Chinese projects

Волны гнева: почему россияне протестуют против китайских проектов

Petition against the construction of the Chinese plant for bottling water in lake Baikal has collected almost a million signatures, and it’s not the only example of dissatisfaction of the population economic activity of China in the country. What the Russians fear and what people think about this in China?

Do not spill water

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev instructed the Ministry of environment to check for “compliance with the latest environmental standards” project of the plant for bottling water in lake Baikal. “This topic has become very acute,” — said the head of government.

We are talking about the plant in the village of Kultuk in the South of the Irkutsk region. The construction is “Akvasib” is a private company 99% owned by the PRC Ju Gough (another cent owned by his Russian wife Olesya, and Molchak).

“Akvasib” plans to take water from the bottom of lake Baikal, to pump in the subsea pipeline with a length of several kilometers to the company, which is being built on the shore of the lake to bottle and export to China, South Korea and Mongolia.

The planned capacity of the plant is 528 thousand liters of water per day. First put into operation in December, at full capacity the enterprise will be released by 2021.

This project originated in 2013. within five years the company “Akvasib”, according to her representatives, received a positive conclusion of the environmental review in accordance with the law “On protection of lake Baikal”, as well as all legal building permits.

However, local residents were strongly opposed. In 2017 one of them posted on the website .org petition to stop the construction. It has been signed by over 900 thousand people.

“Scientists confirm that the construction of the plant will cause significant damage to lake Baikal, which is already suffering from ecological problems”, — the document says. In particular, can suffer migratory birds, traditionally staying in the area.

Besides, near the building are the nesting sites of birds listed in the Red book. “This circumstance was not taken into account when issuing building permits,” — emphasizes the author of the petition.

However, in January, the construction has entered the active phase. The local appealed to the Western-the Baikal Interdistrict office of public Prosecutor with the requirement to verify compliance with environmental regulations. Violations identified immediately.

“During the inspection found that the construction site of the facility is littered with waste, but at times the accumulation is carried out in areas not equipped in accordance with the requirements of the legislation”, — said the Prosecutor’s office. In addition, at the construction site discovered the fuel spills, which could contaminate the water in the lake.

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However, the hopes of the defenders of the lake to stop the project quickly dissipated. As said the representative of legal service “Aquasia”, the reviewer found only “two bags of garbage and a spot of automotive fuel, right now the area is already cleared.”

Can not be Russian — the Chinese can

Now opponents of the plant can help only the government. Experts point out that, in addition to the traditional relationship to the Baikal lake as an ecological pearl of Russia, disgruntled citizens moving and well-founded sense of injustice.

Because of the Chinese company construction of the plant on the shore of lake officials were allowed, and local residents are forbidden to build houses on the shore and need to demolish everything that was built before the amendments to the law “On protection of lake Baikal” of the amendments on mandatory environmental impact assessment.

The apparent privileges received not only the owner “Aquasia”. According to the website “Guancha” (owned by the Shanghai Institute of strategic studies and expresses the official point of view of Beijing), the Chinese are buying up land on the shore of lake Baikal and there are active construction.

“If the law to buy land fails, they hire a Russian intermediary who issued the estate, but its actual owner is a citizen of China, — says the publication. — Acquired under the pretext of building of a cottage or dwelling house the ground there in the end, the high-rise hotels and other elements of tourism infrastructure”.

“Guanica” quoted one of the Chinese who have invested in property on the lake about 12 million dollars and actually acknowledging that all this activity is illegal. “Obtaining construction permits and environmental approvals can take about three years, and it’s too long,” he explained to the publication.

The Russian Supervisory bodies of the Chinese violations are somehow not notice, but the citizens should be vigilant, painfully punishing the smallest deviation from the standards.

Public outrage at the Chinese project at lake Baikal is the most resonant, but not a unique case. Only last month there have been at least two similar scandal.

Residents of the village of Omsk in Western Siberia filed in the regional Commission on human rights, collective complaint on the construction of the town for 400 Chinese workers who will be engaged in reconstruction of the Omsk oil refinery.

“In Omsk, and, moreover, many unemployed skilled workers, and they (China national chemical engineering construction company No. 7, contractor. — Approx. ed.) to bring Chinese young people who learn to work here,” say the authors of the document, warning that the construction of the Chinese village will result in “colonization in Omsk of the earth.”

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In Morgaushskiy district, Chuvash Republic, local residents at a public hearing opposed the building of the dairy plant of the Chinese company “Sichuan-Chuvashiya”.

The Chinese bought a plot of 40 hectares on which plans to build a processing plant, the administrative building for the packaging of finished products, a canteen, a shop and café, and fitness center. The representatives of “Sichuan-Chuvashiya” promised that all shopping features will be available to the local population.

However, they did not believe. At the hearings, people complained that the Chinese have already fenced the construction site, blocking access roads to land plots allocated for private farming.

Rules of behavior in Russia

Discontent with Chinese projects — a problem primarily of local and regional authorities interested in investing, creating new jobs and increasing tax revenues.

Thus, the project of the Baikal plant for bottling of fresh water provides for 1.5 billion rubles of investment and 150 jobs. Plus a steady stream of tax payments.

It is not surprising that the head of Buryatia Alexey Tsydenov in early March said that “all the screaming and excitement — about nothing”.

“As for fears on the subject, that the water in the lake will remain, can you give just one example: if we take everything that passes today through the Angara dam, and how much ready to bottle plant on lake Baikal, it is about the same as passes the dam for fifteen minutes,” explained Tsydenov.

In mid-February, the website “Guanica” published a great article about the dissatisfaction of the Russian population of Chinese economic expansion.

According to the newspaper, Chinese citizens coming to lake Baikal, do not allow to make the Russian. “They stay in hotels owned by their countrymen, eat only dishes of national cuisine. Their drivers and other staff are Chinese. All services paid in China, so the contribution to the Russian economy from these small,” notes “Guanica”.

Besides, the Chinese are behaving in Russia not the best way. “Not all are of refined manners: can spit, and garbage to throw out, where their heart’s content, — says the publication. — The Russians have a feeling of dislike”.

But most importantly, say analysts Beijing, the Russians are afraid of China’s economic strength “while their own country is so good results, not shows, and the population gradually reduced.”

“The Russians are unhappy that China has been using their country as a base of energy supply and raw materials, and believe that China wants to cash in on the precarious situation in modern Russia”, — concludes “Guanica”.

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