chapter
3 Pages

Introduction

WithJean-François Rousseau

This chapter describes push-pull factors of Chinese farming in the Russian Far East, going beyond simplistic demographic explanations to unpack aspects of the region's political economy. While structural factors are important, using simple numbers or imagery on demography and geography, as is typically the case in popular discourse, tends to obscure much more than it reveals in terms of the complex processes, actors, and push–pull factors at work. The chapter explores modalities of post-Soviet Chinese agricultural engagement in Russia's Far East Federal District (RFE), from Chinese laborers on Soviet state-owned and collective farms in the late 1980s to private Chinese companies, state farms, and state-owned enterprises leasing large tracts of Russian land. State-owned farms in Heilongjiang and Northeast China are also actively involved in this kind of surplus labor transfer and encourage their farm employees to go abroad. The chapter shows that simple 'natural' pressures have insufficient explanatory power to describe the phenomenon of Chinese farming in the RFE.