March 22nd, 2012
03:29 PM GMT
Share this on:

Manzhouli, China (CNN) – In Inner Mongolia – the frozen grasslands between China and Russia – it's hard to imagine anything surviving. Yet in the Chinese border town of Manzhouli, business is thriving.

Manzhouli is now one of China's busiest land ports, with $10 billion dollars-worth of timber and other goods passing through every year.

Traders like Huang Jincai are shipping in Siberian timber, revitalizing this once sleepy outpost. Jincai runs a multi-million dollar business cutting and selling timber all over China – with 10% sales growth every year.

"Without this business, I would just be another laborer," Jincai told CNN’s Eunice Yoon.

"I have a house and a car now and the standard of living has improved," he added. "Now more and more people are coming here."

Business between Beijing and Moscow hasn't always been this good. Only four decades ago the two nations clashed over this border - a heavily fortified barricade during the Cold War. Yet after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, relations began to thaw.

Manzhouli is now home to 300,000 people - a 15-fold jump since the end of the Cold War.

Annual trade between China and Russia is now worth more than $55 billion, and China is driving the relationship forward, hoping to further open landlocked Central Asia. It is setting up an economic zone here for factories to process timber and feed the nation's voracious appetite for natural resources.

Russian Auto parts dealer Pasha Gulakov has been coming to Manzhouli for a decade. He negotiates deals to buy components in China to sell back in Russia, with little concern for the hostilities of the two nations' past.

"Manzhouli feels like home," he said. "I have many friends here."

But some argue that Russia is lagging behind in developing its own border towns.

"Behind me is Manzhouli's sister town in Russia,” said Gulakov. “You can see there isn't much activity. People on this side of the border complain the Russians aren't doing enough to develop their side."

Some businessmen complain that Russians are unpredictable about regulations.

Jincai says they should do more, but he's optimistic.

"The Chinese government has invested a lot in Manzhouli," he said. "I hope the Russian side will also do the same and invest in its border towns. If they invest more, then our town will grow."

soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. ShadowSnw

    I heard that they cross the border and clear cut the timber at night when no one is watching. And they carry all the rocks they find as well, in case they have rare earths.

    March 22, 2012 at 10:11 pm |
  2. FightRacist

    to ShadowShw: You are the infamous racist troll of CNN blog.

    Lately, there are several hate crime being indicted.

    You are well qualified for so many systematic and repeat racist slurs you made on CNN.

    March 23, 2012 at 1:09 am |
  3. FightRacist

    Well qualified for internet hate crime, Mr. ShadowSnw. The FBI will trace your IP address from CNN blog, and knock on your door soon.

    March 23, 2012 at 1:10 am |
  4. CCCP

    I'm Chinese and I want a better life than China can give me!

    March 23, 2012 at 3:12 am |
  5. whosurdaddy

    @ CCCP you are not Chinese you are that stupid India troll. 去你妈的印度啊三滚!

    March 23, 2012 at 3:46 am |
  6. Marco Hsiao

    Annual trade between China and Russia is now worth more than $55 billion

    This report is good and balanced, and the photo is very nice – giant panda and polar bear are happy together. In the future the high speed rail should be built to Manzhouli (border of Russia), border of Korea, border of central Asia, border of Vietnam, border of Myanmar and border of India; then the trade and tourism would be expanded largely.

    The trade between Russia and China is spreading fast; it should exceed 200 billion within 15 years. The trade is benefiting each other on fortune, cultural exchange, progress and also to help forward friendship and peace.

    March 23, 2012 at 6:20 am |

    when two elephant meet, the grass will always suffer, looking unto china for fake product and looking unto russia for problems.

    March 23, 2012 at 9:05 am |
  8. Justice

    to ShadowSnw

    You are THE MOST CHILDISH FOREIGNER LIVES IN US you are anti-China because every news about china, you jump into your comments with your poison words you are INSANE!!!!! Im sorry for you because you must be in agony and suffering....

    March 23, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
  9. Hot Wheels

    To ShadowSnw,
    Your stupidity knows no bounds. Garbage spews from you like water falling over Niagara Falls.

    March 23, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
  10. Sowhat

    @ ShadowSnw

    See, now the anti- troll movement have begin, & you made yourself the main target, now let's just hope that the FBI, CIA or CNN just fire you...or put you in jail for a few days. Maybe then you'll learn how to respect!!!

    March 23, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
  11. sameh

    Lighting engineer played the minds of the masses

    March 24, 2012 at 2:27 am |
  12. badhab1t

    @CCCP: you whine about CHina and u'r nick is Soviet union? LOL!
    "Some businessmen complain that Russians are unpredictable about regulations."
    Come on,chinese are also quite fames for playing fast & loose with regulations. Most successful business ppl are. The point is not to cross the line,and stay in the gray area.

    March 26, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
  13. jesus

    just wait when they discover oil ! big problem !

    March 30, 2012 at 8:12 am |

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About Global Exchange

Global Exchange explores how emerging markets are impacting and influencing the global financial community, at a time when business is a vital driver of the international news agenda.

Global Exchange is presented live from Abu Dhabi by emerging markets editor, John Defterios, who will be joined by CNN correspondents from around the world.

Global Exchange also includes the “GX20,” a global hotlist of some of the world’s biggest economic thinkers. The GX20 will be drawn from the key emerging markets, from across China, Russia, India and South Africa, contributing to the show and this blog.

Watch on CNN International Sunday to Thursday:

1100 ET
1600 GMT
1700 CET

Follow the show on Twitter @CNNGlobalEx and use the #CNNGlobalEx hashtag to join the conversation.

Powered by VIP