Silk Road through the Russian Far East: Chinese to invest in Yakutsk IT park

Meetings with Chinese companies at the East Russia Economic Forum (Восточный экономический форум) in Vladivostok have resulted in agreements to build an IT park in Yakutsk, capital of the Sakha Republic, also known as Yakutia. There have also been further talks on an oil refinery project said to be backed by CNPC.

The Chinese partner is Huaqing Housing Holdings (华清安居控股有限公司), a developer established by research institute of Tsinghua University (‘Huaqing’ is just ‘Tsinghua’ spelt backwards) and backed by SOEs and state financial institutions. As I’ve been describing in a series of posts during the last few months, Huaqing have been one of the Yakutian government’s main interlocutors in talks on potential Chinese investment in the republic, and Zhu Chunyu 朱春雨, the company’s chairman, is a frequent visitor to Yakutsk.

Huaqing has also signed an agreement to cooperate with Almazergienbank Алмазэргиэнбанк, the largest in Yakutia, which has been increasingly partnering with Japanese and Chinese institutions, including China Construction Bank (建设银行).

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Chinese-invested refinery in Amur oblast

A private company from China and its Russian partner will refine oil in the Far Estearn Russian region of Amur oblast to ship fuels to Chinese customers across the border (Amurskaya Pravda). In order to do that, they’ll have to build the refinery first. The location is the village of Beryozovka Берёзовка, some 50 km from the regional capital of Blagoveshchensk which itself faces Heihe 黑河, Heilongjiang across the Amur river. The place is expected to be designated as one of the ‘areas of priority development’, a federal government initiative to transform old ‘monotowns’ in the Far East into industrial parks through tax benefits and state investment (these areas are attracting a good deal of interest in China, as I wrote a few days ago). This should be good news for the refinery project, that has existed for a few years but only last April was approved by the National Reform and Development Commission.

The Chinese investor is Menglan Xinghe Energy (梦兰星河能源股份有限公司), a subsidiary of Jiangsu-based Menglan Group, led by chairwoman Qian Yuebao 钱月宝. Menglan started as in the textile industry but has diversified to invest, notably, in the company behind the Loongson (龙芯) microprocessor (said last February to be planning to invest in Intel rival AMD). Menglan have been active in the Russian Far East for a while, notably in Yakutia (to which I’ll return in a future post).