Officially, relations with China could not be better and the Russian press periodically carries testimonials that the alliance is robust such as the recent declaration by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi that “China is ready, side by side with Russia, to jointly oppose the one-sided policy, protectionism and hegemony, which attack international relations and the international order.” and that Beijing intends continue relations with Moscow at the highest level.
Below the level of high politics, articles appear that challenge the narrative that everything is rosy. Izvestia recently reported that Russian agricultural exports are having difficulty in penetrating the Chinese market and that a ban on Russian wheat exports imposed in 1976, when China and the Soviet Unions were bitter enemies has not yet been completely lifted. The report stated that, according to experts lifting the restrictions will not be easy, as the Chinese are extremely demanding about foreign food imports and are ready to issue permits only when necessary.
What also greatly perturbs Russia is the growing Chinese economic and demographic power in the post-Soviet space. Georgy Zotov in an article for “Argumenty i Fakty” titled “'We Will Soon Be Left Without Underwear.' How China 'Gobbled Up' the Republics of the Former USSR" reports on the Chinese takeover of Kyrgyzstan. While the article deals with a former Soviet republic, one wonders whether it betrays nervousness about similar processes occurring in Russia itself, and particularly in those parts of Russia bordering on China.
Zotov's report follows below:
Kyrgyzstan desperately flees the boulder of debt to China (Souce: Inozpress.kg)
"I study the menu in a cafe in the capital of Kyrgyzstan – 'Chinese style kebab', 'veal in sweet and sour sauce', 'chicken kung pao'. The place is popular: there are whole groups of Kyrgyz, people at the next table are noisily celebrating a birthday. The number of Chinese restaurants in Bishkek is growing steadily: last year there were twenty, now - twenty-six. Even in purely Kyrgyz establishments with pilaf, lamb and manti, there are now always several Chinese dishes [on the menu]. 'We got used to Chinese cuisine, - admits the waiter. - Try salad with the tongue in sesame oil. I swear, it's very tasty.'
"Hieroglyphs on the streets of Bishkek are the norm now, as well as Chinese language courses: pasted up advertisements promise that “you will speak Mandarin in 4 months”. There are 400 companies operating in the small republic, either owned by the PRC or by a joint Kyrgyz-Chinese business. Over the past 12 years, Kyrgyzstan's to China has grown 170 (!) fold, and now amounts to $ 1.8 billion (43% of all the country's external loans). The recently dethroned [Kyrgyz] President Jeenbekov asked China twice this year to defer payments - the country ran out of money, there is a 'hole' in the budget. The Chinese smiled sweetly, and hinted - if there are no funds, pay back with your resources. How the PRC interacts with the former Soviet republics is in the special report of the “AiF” observer.
'They'll Be Slaughtered In One Day'
"I walk along Zhibek-Zholu Avenue in Bishkek, past the “Goin” Chinese market. This shopping center was torched twice during the revolutions of 2005 and 2010. “Yes, we don't like Chinese people, - says the owner of a neighboring shop, Abai Sultanov - But judge for yourself, it's scary. They effortlessly crawl in everywhere. Let one in - he will drag the entire family along, all the relatives. Six million people live here, and in China - one and a half billion. They will dissolve us within them, and we will be unable to utter a peep.”
"The 35-year-old market seller Jiang Zheng from Yunnan province complains in good Russian: 'I got a legal permit to work in Kyrgyzstan, I came with my wife. But when there is a coup or demonstrations, we lock ourselves in the apartment ... because, we can be beaten up. For what? I am doing business as usual. The Chinese are despised and feared as if I were some kind of monster.'
"In October of this year, looters plundered a gold mine run by a Chinese company: they took out not only safes with money, but even dismantled and skedaddled with the toilets (!). 'In such cases, the guards are under strict order don't shoot to kill, - said Andrey Skornyakov, a security company employee, - If at least one person would be killed or wounded, then an anti-Chinese pogroms may begin.' 'Yes, if blood would be shed, all the Chinese in Bishkek will be slaughtered in one day,' confirms businessman Enver Khavazov,- and at this moment people won’t care that a huge Chinese army is on the border.'
'A Republic In Its Pocket'
"China operates in Kyrgyzstan in the same way as in the rest of the world. It willingly provides loans - for the construction of a railway or for the modernization of a thermal power plant. But loans are given under special conditions - Chinese firms should handle the projects, Chinese workers should build them: that is, all the money spent in the end remains with the PRC, while Kyrgyzstan remains indebted in the end. In case of any problems, the Chinese deploy harsh methods: for example, following an explosion by a suicide bomber at the PRC embassy, the Chinese authorities stopped issuing visas to Kyrgyz citizens for two years. "
Chinese workers in Kyrgyzstan (Source: Kagar.kg)
“Unlike Russia, China is not at all interested in the regular alternation of power, military bases or attitude towards the Chinese language, - believes Dmitry Orlov, director of the “East-West” Strategy Center, - The Chinese do not interfere in politics - they need money exclusively and the freedom to conduct business. If something happened, the republic, bound by loans, will wind up in their pocket.”
'They Infiltrate, The Means Exist'
"In 8 years according to official data 214 Chinese have received Kyrgyz citizenship, but the country is filled with of rumors: presumably, 30,000 (!) newcomers from the PRC have entered into fictitious marriages with Kyrgyz girls and have received local passports. 'There are a lot of Chinese here, - says businessman Enver Khavazov, - They have their own special cafes, where only they gather, but not Kyrgyz. Once I went to factories to buy bricks for building a house. I accidentally walked into a workshop, and it was chock-full of Chinese. They stopped work and stood there looking at me. So illegal immigrants infiltrate here, of course, the means exist.' There are also enough various companies registered to 'fake' Kyrgyz: in fact, their owners are Chinese traders. Nobody knows how many there are such enterprises, but they have already entangled the republic with their network.
"In 1993, when the first Chinese cafe opened in Bishkek, one of the city residents walking by was able to read the hieroglyphs on the door of the establishment: “our seventh province.” A terrible scandal erupted, the cafe was renamed.
"I ask Kyrgyz businessmen if there is any export to China, and I hear uncertainty: 'well ... maybe “milk”, we export nuts.' On the other hand, judging by Osh and other bazaars [markets] in Bishkek, the republic is flooded with cheap Chinese junk and electronics. 'Look, this is a good quality, - Andrey Skornyakov, an employee of the security company, shows me his mobile phone, - It can be washed with soap, shockproof ... made in China.'
'They Will Bite Us Off Piece By Piece'
"The Kirgiz are especially unnerved by the example of neighboring Tajikistan. This state already owes China $ 2.9 billion (60% of the country's total external debt), and in repayment for the loan, the PRC is gradually taking over Tajik natural resources. In 2011, after demarcation, 1,158 (!) Kilometers of Tajik territory went to China – so they believe in Kyrgyzstan, the creditors of the Celestial Kingdom seized them for debts. 'Twenty years ago, we already gave the Chinese 161 kilometers of Kyrgyz land, - says the outraged farmer Janabek Akimaliev, - are they going to start constantly biting [our lands] piece by piece? We are a small republic, there is no money, they are going to undress us... soon we will be left without our underwear.'
"True, China no longer makes claims on other Kyrgyz kilometers. But it can very well demand the transfer of management of natural resources and power grids to repay the debt: this has already been done [by the PRC] in Africa. Russia easily forgives billions in debt to its neighbors - China does not show such largesse. Therefore, the tension is growing. Fights between Kyrgyz and Chinese mine workers have repeatedly occurred. Whether such a phobia is justified or not is difficult to say. However, the number of Chinese 'guest workers' in Kyrgyzstan is constantly increasing. Last year there were 40,000 of them: although there is [high] unemployment in the country, and a million people work in Russia.
"... In the restaurant, a Kyrgyz waiter brings me a tongue in sesame sauce salad: a large portion, it's cheap and tastes heavenly. Russia does not have a clear economic policy in the former USSR republics. We can only mindlessly give money and forgive loans. Although in the same Kyrgyzstan, they will be delighted if Russia will buy and develop gold mines instead of China. And our loans would not go to waste, but would be backed by valuable metal. Alas, we have not learned to be practical. Therefore, China extracts profit from Central Asia."
Georgy Zotov (Source: Lenta.ru)
 Lenta.ru, November 19, 2020.
 Iz.ru, November 24, 2020.
 See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 8973, Russian Experts: Competing With China In Central Asia Is Like Playing Chess Against An Opponent Armed With A Baseball Bat, October 19, 2020.
 Aif.ru, November 10, 2020