Prominent far-east Russian city Vladivostok has been in the news recently for a couple of reasons. One is that it celebrated its 160-year-old anniversary since joining Russia in 1860.
The other reason is due to China’s hunger for power — as the Red Dragon set off sparks on social media when a tweet posted by a reporter with China’s mouthpiece CGTN stated that the territory in question once belonged to China.
On July 2, Vladivostok, a Russian forte in the far east corner of its lands celebrated the 160th anniversary of its founding day, this resulted in a wave of online attacks and trolls on social media who abused and slammed China’s closest ally and neighbour for claiming that the territory belonged to them. Furious netizens on popular media platforms explained that Vladivostok, the administrative capital of the Primorsky Krai region historically belonged to China.
Although these claims weren’t officially endorsed or acknowledged by China and Russia’s foreign ministries, it raised a few eyebrows when the Russian Embassy in China posted a video on Weibo as a tribute to the foundation day of Vladivostok, and several diplomats and journalists including Shen Shiwei a popular reporter with CGTN, one of China’s mouthpieces, lambasted Russia for the insensitive act.
Shiwei stated that an unequal treaty was signed with Beijing after Russia forcefully annexed the Haishwewai territory and built a harbour there. And topped it up with a loaded, “Russian embassy’s tweet isn’t welcome on Weibo”.
Zhang Heqing, a Chinese diplomat working in the embassy in Pakistan, also commented “isn’t this what in the past was our Haishenwai?”, referring to the Chinese name for the area before its annexation.
As the news quickly exploded after Shiwei’s tweet, Indian media was quick to grab the opportunity and react to unfounded Chinese claims. Some lambasted Beijing for having an insatiable appetite for territory, inadvertently forcing the journalist to issue a clarification. Russia has so far neither acknowledged nor reacted to China’s claims.
Please be professional, no twist! Some Indian media!
This tweet is reporting Russian embassy’s celebration on Vladivostok recalled bitter memories of those humiliated days in the 1860 for Chinese, nothing related to land claims since border treaty signed.
— Shen Shiwei沈诗伟 (@shen_shiwei) July 2, 2020
While historically, Vladivostok once used to be part of China’s Qing dynasty and was known as Haishenwai, it was annexed by the Russian empire in 1860 when China was defeated by the British and French forces in the Second Opium War. Since then, the area has been administered by Russia under the capital of Primorsky Krai.
Chinese journalists and Diplomats continue pointing fingers and crying foul, however, this remains far from the truth as territorial disputes were settled between both countries over three different border agreements signed in 1991, 1994 and 2004. And as per these agreements, China received hundreds of islands in the area along with Argun, Amur and Ussuri rivers. Several of these areas have now been renamed and remain an integral part of China. Up to 50% of the territory still under the eastern corner of Khabarovsky’s Russian territory has been rechristened and given Chinese names in recognition of its history.
In addition to this, Chinese and Russian foreign ministers met in 2008 to further sign an additional treaty known as the Sino-Russian Border Line Agreement, which marked the mutual recognition and acceptance of the demarcation signed between both countries.
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