Libmonster ID: CN-1224



Doctor of Philosophy


Candidate of Philosophical Sciences

Trans-Baikal State University (Chita)

Keywords: China in the assessment of Russians, Russian-Chinese border area, "alarmist image", "pragmatic image", mass perception, information impact

The rapid socio-economic development of China, as well as its growing influence on neighboring countries, raises a natural question: how is this great developing country perceived in neighboring states and regions? Especially where the border with the PRC is very close, and diverse ties with China have a huge impact on the way of local life and on the general perception of the population, as, for example, in Transbaikalia1.

Trans-Baikal residents see Chinese people and their goods in markets and shops, dress in Chinese clothes and eat Chinese products. Residents of the region live in houses that were built by Chinese builders and increasingly get into Chinese cars. Regular visits to neighboring China have become so common for Trans-Baikal residents that it is impossible not to wonder if there is a certain transformation of the economic orientations of Russians living in the border territories towards the southern neighbor.

These issues concern not only Trans-Baikal residents, but also residents of other regions of Russia bordering China.

It is not by chance that many Russian scientists, including V. L. Larin2, A.V. Lukin3, A. A. Maslov4, V. V. Mindogulov5, and others, have addressed the problem of how Russians perceive images of China. Nevertheless, the characterization of images of China associated with its economic presence in the border territories of Russia remains, in fact, a completely unexplored issue. And let's emphasize: the question is not simple.

As a matter of fact, the formation of the image of the people with whom representatives of the indigenous nation communicate on a daily basis and closely is the most important and, moreover, unavoidable function of the national consciousness. Both one's own image and the image of other peoples is manifested, first of all, as a myth stored in the centuries-old memory and in a somewhat naive picture of the world.

The perception of images of "others" in science is associated with mythological thinking, which in the new conditions seems to be "superimposed" on the everyday practice of contacts with completely living, tangible "others"rather than mythological ones6. Which, we note, continue to remain (and, apparently, will forever remain) "other", despite the closest economic, cultural, social and household ties.


The formation of the modern image of the Chinese economy among Russians is associated with the beginning of "perestroika", when market relations began to pave the way in our country due to a change in the strategic course of development. At that time, the ban on interaction with China was lifted, and the Chinese went to Russia, and the Russians to China.

The overall objective was to organize trade in consumer goods. This time was called the "shuttle boom era", during which two types of perception of China spread among the Russian population: one is usually called "pragmatic", the second - "alarmist" (alarmist). The first one is aimed at constructing and spreading positive images of China. The second, which is worrisome, is related to the reaction to the rapid growth of the number of Chinese in our country and their (too much, as many believe) vigorous actions. It is noteworthy that these images, which are opposite in content, often co-exist in the minds of the same people.7

Positive image of the economy

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The image of the PRC in the minds of the population of the border region was formed due to the expectation of positive prospects that opened up the emerging relations with China. At that time, among the merchants who paved the way to the Chinese market and are popularly called "shuttles", the myth spread that "... in China, cheap goods grow right on the trees"8. They said that in China there are factories that produce goods of well-known companies and sell them directly at fabulously low prices; that all the money there is "easy", that it is cheap to create a company there; that any projects from Russia are waiting for the turn of Chinese financiers 9.

Simultaneously with the " pragmatic "image, an" alarmist " image of the PRC began to spread among Russians, in which Chinese products were presented as the lowest quality of all products available on the market.10 This image, by the way, was associated with prejudices, superstitions and fears that grew out of the opinion that in most ethnic traditions is formed in relation to people understood as "others"11. They say that China has never been famous for a good product, and the Chinese simply do not know how (and will never be able) to produce it.


The Chinese, who first arrived in Transbaikalia, were evaluated by our compatriots, as they say, "by their clothes". The image of a Chinese person was associated with the stereotypical belief that "everything is cheap" in China solely because cheap natural resources and cheap labor allowed him to make an economic leap.12

According to the testimony of E. N. Visitei 13 (a Russian businessman living in the PRC), the belief spread in the minds of Russians that China built its economy by exploiting the mass of yesterday's peasants. It was considered that all Chinese were short, 14 and thin, with identical faces, 15 who "... congregate in large crowds on the streets of Chinese cities, dress in robes and straw hats, ride bicycles, fanatically believe in communism and obey CCP functionaries, " 16 and who build modern production facilities with only a small income rice 17 and necessary household items 18.

The desire to work constantly, according to the Russians, so influenced the inhabitants of the neighboring country that they became " pathological workaholics." Their exploitation, as well as the money of Russian buyers, is used by Chinese companies that seek to buy up all the resources in the world.19

The mythologeme constructed by M. G. Delyagin and A. A. Nagorny, that the Chinese do not know how to do anything themselves, but only copy other people's things and steal technology, was connected with this thesis. In their opinion, China is a failed country, doomed to defeat in the global struggle for survival 20The Chinese economy is colorless, with no "brands" 21 and only "fakes" 22This image was accompanied by stories about "Uncle Xiao's workshop", where low-grade junk is made in an artisanal way and "Made in China".23

Chinese goods are generally harmful to health, according to a popular mythologeme, and Russians come to mind plush toys of poisonous colors that exude the smell of plastic, rubber and "God knows what other chemicals"24. A vivid example of a bad product is a Chinese car, which is presented to Russians as a "tin can and an iron coffin on wheels"25. Public opinion postulates that " ... the Chinese do not know how to make cars and will never learn." Among the" death capsules", as Russians call cars from the Middle Kingdom, the most famous is the Chery Amulet - "killer car" 26.

The myth of "Chinese equipment" states that after purchase, this equipment is not serviced, and therefore it is pointless to look for spare parts and try to repair it.27

A vivid emotional intensity accompanies the construction of "alarmist" images of Chinese agriculture. In modern Transbaikalia, where the Chinese are practically the only capable producers of agricultural products, the population of the region reacts painfully to their activities and successes. The "alarmist myth" claims that China develops at the expense of large-scale damage to the natural environment; therefore, the price of such development is the lives of future generations.28

The content of the myth consists in contrasting Russian and Chinese technologies of land use. So, V. I. Ishaev, while working as a representative of the President of the Russian Federation in the Far Eastern Federal District, said that in Russia the technology of cultivating arable land is sparing and allows the land to "rest", while the Chinese use intensive technologies and harm Russian arable land. There are stories among the population that the Chinese use banned or unknown types of fertilizers in Russia, destroy the soil layer and sow genetically modified seeds.29

Such accusations often lead to public trials, 30 but as the leasing of arable land to the Chinese continues, the myths are spreading more and more rapidly. For example, a resident of Khakassia, V. I. Ananyev, told how he had to be present during a monstrous experiment. According to him, one evening the Chinese put green tomatoes in a special pit, then sprinkled them with some powder and filled them with water, and in the morning they took out red tomatoes. The pensioner claimed that he sent the powder to the Novosibirsk Institute of Organic Chemistry, but his staff could not find out what kind of substance it was.31

No less emotionally satiated-

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The image of China destroying the Russian forest and exploiting the region's natural resources is clear. For example, the sinologist Yu. V. Chudodeev, analyzing the problems of strategic interaction between border states, writes about the processes of trade interaction with China and the "help of the Chinese", which resulted in the complete disappearance of the forest in Transbaikalia32.


At the same time, images are being spread among the population of the Russian-Chinese border area in which Chinese products 33 or services of Chinese enterprises and firms 34 are presented in the most favorable light. In recent years, these images project the idea of a" Chinese brand", in which the label" Made in China " has a very high status.

Advertising campaigns for Chinese products usually begin by exposing those perceptions about China and its products that are considered outdated.35 Interestingly, dealers of Chinese products claim that many of the critics of Chinese production carefully hide the fact that their more expensive products are also made in China.36

"Pragmatists" claim that the days when China produced "consumer goods" are over. "China is now a supplier country of excellent products, on which the world's leading companies are happy to put their logos next to the inscription "Made in China", the website states Dealers report that about a third of the products assembled in China are electronics represented by such international brands as Acer, ASUS, Canon, Fly, GE, HP, IBM, Intel, LG, Nokia, Phillips, Samsung, Sony37. According to them, modern China pleases with its quality, durability and low price. The main thing is to buy from trusted suppliers, says the website of the gift shop "Beri-Dari" 38.

The most striking "pragmatic" image in the economic sphere is spread by the myth of the "Chinese automobile industry" 39, which is contrasted with the myth of Chinese "killer cars".

The effectiveness of the Chinese automotive industry is demonstrated through images of car manufacturers that have entered the Chinese market, specializing in both Chinese "brands" (such as Cherry and Great Wall) and brands purchased abroad (Ford, GM, Hummer, Honda, Hyundai, Toyota, Volkswagen, Volvo).

The myth says that the Chinese car industry has a "special path", characterized by a focus on attracting foreign manufacturers who make components and spare parts, but assemble cars in China. The Chinese have no doubt that they will be able to buy any car giant, and spread the myth that by 2020, China will become the world's largest center of the automotive industry 40.

Not only cars, but also other goods from Chinese manufacturers and service providers are widely available on the Russian market. Their appearance is associated with the spread of myths about McDonald's, the "Chinese crested dog" and the "Great Chinese Firewall".

The myth that McDonald's is a Chinese invention, along with the compass, gunpowder, and paper, reflects China's desire to present itself as the creator of world culture.41 This desire can be seen in the myth of the "crested dog", dedicated to the history of a special breed of dogs that were bred in ancient China during the Han Dynasty. Dogs, which are characterized by a lack of hair, allegedly " served as a symbol of the well-being of Chinese nobles, and Chinese merchants who took dogs on their ships took them all over the world." The myth says that crested dogs were subsequently bred by the ancient Toltecs and Mayans, from which it is concluded that cultural and genetic continuity between the Chinese and Mexicans 42.

The myth of the "Great Firewall of China", or" Golden Shield", is a story about a filtering system for Internet content developed by China, starting in 1998, and launched in 2003. The characteristics of the World Wide Web regulatory system presented in it are so striking that among Russians, a common reaction to domestic examples of content regulation the Internet began to talk about the fact that, they say, our authorities are working towards the introduction of sanctions similar to the Chinese 43.

"Pragmatic" projections of the Chinese agricultural myth, refuting the content of "alarmist" assessments, tell about how Chinese peasants save Russia from starvation.

"Once upon a time there was a shortage of vegetables in its markets for a long time..." 44, says the article "The Success Story of Mr. Zhao", which was published by the People's Daily in the electronic Russian-language magazine "China in a Week". "However, Chinese vegetable growers," the author writes, " using their experience... have made changes in traditional cultivation methods." After that, according to the myth, the yield on farms where Chinese people work has increased so much that in Russia you can now find such vegetables as coriander, onions, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, celery, spinach, etc. everywhere and at any time of the year. 45

The "pragmatic" projection also accompanies other products of the Chinese agricultural market, among which Chinese tea is the most mythologized. It is believed that Chinese types of tea are prepared using different technologies than in other countries, and this gives them special properties.46 But most of all, a personal approach is noticeable when a particular tea, for example, Dahongpao, Pu'er and Teguanyin, is presented as a favorite

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Mao Zedong's drinks 47This person continues to be perceived as a positive image, which is associated with a belief in the cultural power and power of the PRC.


The main task of Chinese "pragmatic" myth-making is an attempt to change the opinion that has become ingrained among the masses of Russians that China is not capable of producing anything properly Chinese, while at the same time they believe that "China is a world factory", and absolutely everything is produced there.48

In Russia, Chinese myth-making is confronted with the stereotypical thinking of consumers who perceive changes with a clear delay.49 On the other hand, the consciousness of Russians who have abandoned the old myths immediately connects with the new mythological images of China. After learning about China's economic success, many of our compatriots show concern. For example, claims that Chinese people do not receive a decent salary are replaced by the belief that China has entered a period of transition from low to middle income. This image is a distorted representation of the modern Chinese economy, when the country's GDP growth is slowing significantly.50

A similar example is recorded in the testimony of businessman Dmitry Skripnikov, who, describing his experience in China, says that his personal mythological images were lost "in a sense of respect for this country." But, concluding the story, he produces a new mythological image and declares that China is a serious " ... threat to any business built on production." China, in his opinion, is developing modern technologies that will be able to easily absorb any economy in the world.51 His concerns are confirmed by the story of how Chinese corporations acquire trademarks of European, Korean and American companies for the purpose of liquidation, and then use their developments in the Chinese market.52

Another type of" alarmist myth " is the story of China's growing economic dependence on the United States, as well as the fact that this country is moving a number of its production facilities to China, and today it is the United States that is the main buyer of Chinese goods.

According to A.V. Vinogradov, it is now widely believed that China is regarded as an arena of struggle between the Rockefeller and Rothschild clans.53 Related to them is the myth that a revaluation of the renminbi, i.e. an appreciation of the renminbi against the dollar, is necessary to protect the US market54 and also to lead to economic imbalances on a global scale55.

In general, in the minds of Russians, the economy of modern China is extremely diverse and contradictory, as well as the opinions of Russian experts expressed in this regard.

As an example, we can cite the position of the deputy head of the Khabarovsk Territory Administration A. B. Levintal, who argued that if in some industries, such as agriculture and construction, it is worth using the labor of Chinese workers because of its cheapness, intensity and quality, then attempts by Chinese people to settle in Russia should be discouraged in every possible way.56

This opinion is widely held, which is confirmed by 57 opinion polls, according to which almost 80% of Russians living in the territories bordering China buy Chinese goods and agree that Chinese people should trade and work in Russia. However, at the same time, respondents oppose allowing Chinese people to open businesses in Russia and protest against the fact that Chinese migrants legally buy or build housing in our country, as well as receive land for long-term rent.

One in four respondents considers the Chinese presence harmful, one in five is afraid of the large number of Chinese, one in six blames them for the poor quality of imported goods, one in seven is sure that "they are profiting at our expense", one in ten is afraid of competition from the Chinese 58.

Opinion polls also show that the majority of Russians ' opinions about China are confused and contradictory. For example, many people claim that "socialism is built in China", or even "communism", and at the same time this belief is often combined with the opinion that "capitalism is flourishing in China". There is a myth that "China is a backward country", and it is just as easily changed in the minds of the same people to the opposite statement that "China is a superpower and will soon rule the world"59.

In general, the number of Chinese images in the minds of the Russian population is increasing, and they are becoming more diverse. Chinese culture definitely influences the lives of the peoples surrounding China. However, the relationship between the Chinese and Russian civilizations is complex and is unlikely to change - it is a long process. In any case, at the moment it is too early to talk about a change in the value orientation of Russians towards China.


Today, during the development of mutually beneficial Russian-Chinese relations, the images of China are being transformed in the minds of Russians.

From the initial perception of China as a country with unlimited opportunities, they move on to constructing images based on a certain amount of knowledge, which become more realistic. Among them, - what was discussed in

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In this article, "alarmist" and "pragmatic" images are highlighted.

The "alarmist" ones are aimed at setting China and the Chinese against the world and regional community. The "pragmatic" concept promotes the image of China as a creator of world culture and a global economic leader. "Alarmist" and "pragmatic" images are not perceived in isolation, but are in a state of interaction, leading Russians, on the one hand, to be ready to cooperate with China, and, on the other hand, to strive to control the migration flows of Chinese people in order to prevent them from taking root in Russian territories and generally to restrict their activities Chinese citizens in Russia.

Despite the impossibility of exercising direct ideological influence on Russians from China, Russians, nevertheless, continue to remain in the zone of China's interests. Under these circumstances, China resorts in our country to traditional methods of introducing non-Chinese peoples to the achievements of its culture, offering the Russian side and its citizens not only affordable goods, but also support and assistance in solving certain economic issues. This strategy focuses on the initiative shown by the Russians, attracted by the opportunities offered by the Chinese side.

However, it should also be borne in mind that China's traditional culture-building strategies are based on very long-term interests. Therefore, in the coming decades, the Russian side can expect that cross-border cooperation with the PRC will be mutually benevolent and economically balanced.

Kruzhilina A. 1 the Image of China and Chinese people on the pages of the Siberian press in historical perspective // Russia and China: prospects for cooperation: proceedings of the scientific conference. Blagoveshchensk: BSPU Publishing House, 2012, pp. 53-59.

Larin A. G. 2 Russo-Chinese relations and Chinese migrants in the assessment of Russians (continued) / / Problems of the Far East. 2008. N 6. pp. 81-95. (Latin A.G. Rossiysko-kitayskie otnosheniya i kitaiskie migranty v otsenke rossiyan // Problemy Dalnego Vostoka. 2008. N 6) (in Russian)

Lukin A.V. 3 The bear watches the dragon. The image of China in Russia in the XVII-XXI centuries. Moscow, Vostok-Zapad: ACT, 2007. (Lukin A.V. Medved nablyudaet za drakonom. Obraz Kitaya v Rossii v XVII-XXI vekakh. M., 2007) (in Russian)

Maslov A. A. 4 Observing the Chinese. Hidden rules of behavior, Moscow, RIPOLclassik Publ., 2010. (Maslov А. А. Nablyudaya za kitaytsami. Skrytye pravila povedeniya. M., 2010) (in Russian)

Mindogulov V. V. 5 What do residents of the Far East think about Russian-Chinese border relations? / Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya, 1995, No. 10, pp. 115-117. (Mindogulov V. V. What do habitants of the Far East think about the Russian-Chinese border relations? // Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya. 1995, N 10) (in Russian)

Golovanivskaya M. K. 6 Mentalnost ' v zerkale yazyka [Mentality in the mirror of language]. Some basic worldview concepts of Frenchmen and Russians. Moscow, Yazyki slavyanskoi kul'tury, 2009. p. 39. (Golovanivskaya M. K. Mentalnost v zerkale yazyka. M., 2009) (in Russian)





11. Stetskevich M. 11 Myths about "totalitarian sects" and "Wahhabis" in modern Russia: Smysly mifa: mifologiya v istorii i kul'tury [The Meaning of Myth: mythology in history and culture]. St. Petersburg, St. Petersburg Philosophical Society Publishing House, 2001, No. 8. (Stetskevich M. Myths about "totalitarian sections" and "Wahhabits" in modern Russia: an attempt of analysis / / Smyslv mifa: mifologiya v istorii i culture. SPb. 2001, No. 8) (in Russian)


13 - 0-12136





18 - 0-12136



21 - 0-12136


23 1042


25 12196







Chudodeev Yu .32 Russo-kitayskoe strategicheskoe partnerstvo na sovremennom etape - problemy i perspektivy [Russian-Chinese Strategic Partnership at the present Stage: Problems and Prospects]. 2008. N 5. С. 48 - 53. (Chudodeev Yu. Russian-Chinese strategic-partnership at the modern stage: problems and prospects // Aziya i Afrika segodnya. 2008, N 5) (in Russian)


34 1042





39 40 Там же.

41 http://www.abirus.rU/content/564/623/625/11559.html



44 45 Ibid.


47 Ibid.



50 51



54 - 04-07 - 2188

55 - 0-12136

56 Who will live in the Russian Far East and why? // Your choice. 1995, N 1. pp. 19-22. (Who and what will live in the Far East of Russia? // Vash vybor. 1995, N 1) (in Russian)

Mindogulov V. V. 57 Decree. op.

58 Ibid.

59 - 0-12136


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