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Why Did Russia Offer the Vladivostok Port to China?

Recently, Russia announced an offer of the port of Vladivostok, its most important unfrozen port in the Far East, to China as an internal port. Russia claimed that it has completed the preparation for China’s mass shipping needs.

China plans to  open the port officially on June 1. It hopes this will boost the economy at the Northeastern provinces, especially for Heilongjiang and Jilin, which have no access to the sea and have to transport their goods entirely over land, or partially to the port of Dalian and then ship them over the sea. Once Vladivostok becomes available, they can transport their goods to this seaport first (which is at a much shorter distance) and then ship the goods out. Also China’s foreign trade goods can go through Vladivostok without tariffs and other taxes.

One analysis said that Russia previously planned to develop its Far East region with Japan and South Korea as partners.  It was afraid that China might dominate the Far East as its power grows. However, this plan didn’t get very far. Now Russia finally agreed to offer it to China, showing it truly takes China as its best partner in developing the Far East. This will also trigger more trade between China and Russia.

Some people suggested that Russia has been forced to give China Vladivostok. Being that it is suppressed and sanctioned by the West for its invasion of Ukraine, Russia can only look east and rely on China.

Following this model, Russia may also open a seaport on the Japan Sea to the Chinese navy, allowing China to set a foot into the Japan Sea and counterbalance the U.S., Japanese, and Korean naval forces.

Some background information is that China’s history claims that Vladivostok, whose Chinese name Haishenwai (海参崴), was under the Qing Dynasty’s rule and was ceded to Russia in 1860 as the Qing government was no military rival to Russia.

1. Sohu, May 18, 2023
2. Net Ease, May 16, 2023