Sino-Russian Border Economic Survey (Part 2): Vladivostok–Slavyanka–Zarubino–Kraskino


How are many Chinese manufactured goods transported? According to Mr. Gorovenko, the Deputy General Director of Primoravtotrans, which I visited in Vladivostok, the main routes include: truck transportation from Hunchun (approximately 100 vehicles a day: according to the below-mentioned joint-stock company Trinity Bay Seaport, the Kraskino international terminal, which is the customs point from Hunchun, is small, and of the approximately 50 vehicles per day 35 are trucks); truck transportation from Suifenhe (approximately 160–170 vehicles a day); and other than those train transportation from Suifenhe (as the number of trains is small the cost of the fees for storage, etc., is high, and truck transportation is more convenient in terms of both time and cost) and boat transportation using the Songhua River (summer only). Furthermore, in these areas transportation by black-market peddlers and travelers is also thriving, but in recent years restrictions have grown tough on what can be carried through. Other than that, a road international customs point has been set up in Dongning also.

For the parts of northeastern China which don’t have ports, such as Heilongjiang Province and Jilin Province, the development of logistics for the region can be said to be a key factor for subsequent economic development. On this occasion I entered Russia from Hunchun, and a railway line connects Hunchun and Kamyshovaya. However, it is not currently in use, and from 2011 an upgrading has been planned on the Russian side as a freight terminal accessible by both Chinese standard gauge tracks and Russian broad gauge tracks. As for the Chinese side, while they appear to be considering extending the lines on the Chinese side to the ports, including the port at Zarubino, the sense I got on this visit was that for the Russian side an extension that far would be difficult to accept. In addition, the upgrading of the container terminal at the port at Zarubino has been planned and it is planned for Chinese firms to participate in that upgrading, but the joint-stock company Trinity Bay Seaport which manages the port at Zarubino, where I was able to hear what they had to say, was negative about the participation of the Chinese side. In Zarubino, the cargo and passenger ship service connecting Hunchun, Zarubino, and Sokcho in the ROK was established in 2000 by Dong Chun Ferry Co., Ltd. (a Hunchun–ROK joint venture) and is realizing the simplification of customs clearance on the Sino-Russian border for ROK and Chinese people.1

Furthermore, Berkut Co., Ltd., the logistics and tourism firm which is undertaking development centered on Kraskino, has begun timber processing (boards) at Posyet, and has plans to export processed timber to Japan and the ROK via the Port of Slavyanka (with the Port of Posyet handling mainly coal, this is to prevent an impact on quality by coal on timber). A Chinese firm has shown interest in this timber processing and has made an offer of cooperation, and there was also the carrying out of a survey of timber processing firms in Khasan District. Primoravtotrans, as well as Berkut, are planning or are putting into effect transit transport between China, Russia, and the ROK/Japan, and additionally—besides the above-mentioned plan for upgrading the container terminal at the port at Zarubino and the plan for upgrading the Kamyshovaya rail freight terminal—at the Port of Slavyanka also, which I visited, they are developing and expanding to the north a new timber-processing and transportation terminal, and, still further, it was possible to hear about several initiatives for the development of processing industries and the upgrading and development of logistics, such as development toward third countries including Japan and the ROK, and not just between China and Russia. The government and firms on the Chinese side have got actively involved in such moves, and I was able to get a glimpse also of part of the moves aiming toward that development and expansion. Other than that China has also been progressing cooperation toward such things as development and upgrading of roads for distribution using ports such as Rajin Port in the DPRK, and the activeness of the Chinese side on the use of Japan Sea ports and their upgrading can be discerned.

What impressed me was that Japan’s presence was lacking. At the port at Zarubino, new Daihatsu cars had been imported from Sakaiminato in Tottori Prefecture, and the transportation volume also grew from the originally planned 13,000 vehicles per year to 20,000, and with the plan (at the time of my visit) to increase the number of regular services from two per month to four from October, they were to be transported to central Russia by special trains from Zarubino. However, after the regulations for the import of cars were put into operation, imports of both new and secondhand cars as a whole have declined, and regarding other cargo from Japan, daily products such as foodstuffs and cosmetics were common and the volume of cargo was not particularly large. While it was a limited investigative trip, often heard was the smallness of the freight from the Japanese side or the lowness of the interest and involvement of the Japanese side. To date, even as shipping routes to Japan are being established, they are being cut from the smallness of the amount of cargo, suspended, and have not yet led to the establishment of stable, regular transportation. According to Kojima Iryo Co., Ltd. (August 2009 visit), which has a factory in Hunchun, and which has been actively involved in the establishment of shipping routes across the Sea of Japan, the Zarubino–Niigata–Sokcho once-weekly regular transportation service was established in 2009 2 and if they had used it—with approximately one to one-and-a-half hours from Hunchun to Zarubino, and including customs clearance approximately three hours, and approximately 22 hours from Zarubino to Niigata—if they had shipped in the morning, then the shipment would have arrived in Japan in the evening of the following day, and the day after that the goods would have been on the shelves of stores. However, at the time of my visit it was already temporarily suspended and it was planned to restart on 19 August, and as expected concern remains about stable transportation. There are still many problems in the area of costs, and the import of raw materials takes approximately one week via Dalian from Japan, and for transportation to and from Japan, as before, the route via Dalian will probably be the main one for some time to come.

Toyota Motor Corporation has commissioned the assembly of passenger cars (SUVs) at the Vladivostok factory which the joint venture company set up by Russian automobile company Sollers and Mitsui & Co., Ltd. will establish at the beginning of 2012, and the plan to supply the components from Japan for the foreseeable future was announced in March. For the development of logistics, along with the upgrading of infrastructure and railway lines, it is necessary for the flow of the things using them to be boosted, and the expansion into this region of firms and their development will probably be a key factor. In northeastern China, which is less-developed in comparison with the southeastern coastal regions, the Northeast revitalization policy has been put into effect, and furthermore, regarding the stalled Tumen River Area Development Programme, in August 2009 the strategy to set Changjitu (Changchun–Jilin–Tumen) as a development and opening-up pilot area was approved by the State Council. For such a development and opening-up policy also the development of the logistics of the region is a key element, and in recent years economic exchange and cooperation, and plans for the upgrading of infrastructure in the China–DPRK–Russia border area have also been ongoing. Can the neighboring countries and firms somehow seize these opportunities? And in what way can Japan get involved therein? Attention will be focused on subsequent developments.


  1. Chung Ahyoung (2010) “New Developments for China’s Tumen River Area Development Programme: Piloted by ‘Changjitu’ and ‘Yanlongtu’ “, The Economic Society of Osaka City University “Economic Review“, 111(3)
  2. On initiatives on shipping routes across the Sea of Japan, for more detail please see Hideaki Oikawa, “The Movement in the Planning of Cross-Japan-Sea Shipping Routes and the Investment Environment in Hunchun”, Chapter 2, Osaka Management Association Asia and China Project Support Division edited “Signs of Dramatic Change in Northeast Asia: At the China–DPRK–Russia border”.

The on-the-spot research on which this piece was based was carried out as part of the research for the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology scientific research fund (representative researcher: Norio Horie; project number: 21402019; research project name: “The Potential and Limits for the Redevelopment of the Russian Far East: A Number of Problems Seen from Sino-Russian Mutually-Dependent Economic Relations”). The author went to Russia and carried out research with Associate Professor Chung Ahyoung (College of Business Administration, Ritsumeikan University) and Quan Yongnan (Japanese Language Department, Yanbian University), and for the other research on the Chinese side carried out research with Professor Miyo Tsuji (Faculty of Commerce, University of Marketing and Distribution Sciences), and this piece results from the individual opinions of the author based on those investigations.

[Translated by ERINA]