This post first appeared on Russia Insider
Because Russia is a European country, one often forgets that they share an enormous border with China. This TV segment really brings home how important this is in creating strong political bonds between China and Russia, both dynamic and growing in world influence.
1,080 m (~1,181 yards) above the Amur that will change the lives of Russia's Blagoveshchensk and China's Heihe. Today, the construction of the first road bridge between Russia and China finished on the border. The project has been underway for over 20 years but now it'll become an important element of infrastructure in the development of relations. Trade is expected to grow eight-fold.
Our correspondents, Pavel Melnik on the Russian bank and Aleksandr Balitsky on the Chinese side, assessed the scale and found out when the road will be opened.
First, they built the bridge, now they are lining up.
“Come here, please. Who should we put here?”
Everyone realizes that this day will be remembered for many years. The first international road bridge in the history of Russian-Chinese relations is ready.
“Thank you very much for coming from central Russia to help us with this construction.”
Aleksandr Kozlov, minister for development of the Russian Far East and the Arctic, thanks every builder. It's the gratitude of the whole Amur River region. The steel shrouds are left in the rear-view mirror. The builders have nothing left to do here, other than holding a parade by driving in a column.
630 trucks per day is its real traffic capacity. These bridge supports are like the basis of the growing trade with China. It's expected to grow up to three million tons a year.
Vasily Orlov, governor of the Amur Oblast: “It means perspectives in additional export shipping of agricultural products. And we really hope that the products of the gas processing and gas-chemical plants will be shipped to the People's Republic of China by means that also include this bridge.”
Construction crews set off towards each other from the opposite banks of the Amur river. Each side built 540 meters (~590 yards) of the structure, but it's only a small part of the cross-border passage. Especially for it, China covered 6 km (~3,7 mi) of access ways in asphalt, while the Russian side covered 13 km (~8 mi) of roads over difficult terrain. The Konikurganskaya Canal had to be jumped over, and it's another new crossing in Amur River region which was built by the whole country.
Valery Malkov, welder: “People came from Moscow, Volgograd, Omsk. We came from Barnaul.”
The builders worked under extreme conditions, trying to save themselves from freezing and the neighbors from taiga. Borders don't apply to wild goats. Divided by the Amur, they are still together. Blagoveshchensk and Heihe are good neighbors. People can even greet each other from here by waving, and it'll be seen on the other side.
“I'm greeting my colleague, Aleksandr Balitsky.”
In good weather, the Heihe Embankment can be seen clearly from the Blagoveshchensk side. Only 700 meters (~765 yards) of the Amur divide the Russian and Chinese banks, and now they've become even closer.
They feel at home in the city with a Chinese character and a Russian accent, which can be seen on every sign, though the meaning isn't always clear. Anastasia teaches Russian to Chinese students at the local university, her daughter Nana is already in the second grade here. They get news from their granny in Blagoveshchensk by video chat.
- How are you on the other bank?
- We're okay.
- Did you milk the cows?
They live literally on two sides of the Amur, which the Chinese call Heilong-jiang, or "the river of the black dragon." They visit their relatives by ferry in the summer and by hovercraft in the winter. There are several tips a day, which shuttle traders with their giant bags make all day long.
“Of course, it's better to go by bus. It's faster - you just get on and go.”
- We're waiting for it.
- We've been waiting for 20 years.
For Chinese Heihe that has expanded due to the border trade with Russia, the new bridge automatically means new trade opportunities for all-year shipments. These machines will go to Russia on their own wheels.
Huo Qingfan, sales manager of a special equipment production plant: “Of course, when the bridge is open, export to Russia will be conducted all year round.”
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Only formalities are left - to open the bridge and the fast way to the East will open for the Russian business as well.
They are ready to work with China. This coffee plant has a new roaster, to grind 8 tons of beans per month, instead of 2 which sufficed only the Far East. Blagoveshchensk has something to offer for export.
The high-speed logistic corridor lifts the issue of standstill of goods during the off-season, when the marine navigation is already closed, and the river is not yet covered in ice, and it's already in the near future.
This post first appeared on Russia Insider
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