THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA IN THE AZOV-NORTH BLACK SEA SUBREGION: PRESENT STATE AND FUTURE PLANS
David Babayan, Ph.D. (Hist.), Independent Researcher
The Azov-North Black Sea Subregion is one of the planet’s strategically important areas; it is where the interests of different countries meet and intertwine. It is also tied by multiple threads not only to the Azov-Black Sea Region, but also to different regions of Russia and Ukraine.
The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is pursuing an active policy in the above-mentioned regions. Furthermore, it is primarily interested in the Crimea, which virtually adjoins the Caucasus, the Rostov region, and Donbass (particularly the Lugansk and Donetsk regions); by establishing contacts with them, the PRC is strengthening its position in the Northeast Black Sea and Azov regions. This kind of policy is in keeping with China’s overall geopolitical strategy in the Black Sea basin; below we will look at some of its vectors.
The Crimean Vector
China is showing a clear interest in the Crimea, or to be more precise, in the various branches of the economy of this autonomous republic. The PRC is one of the Crimea’s main trade partners. For example, according to the year-end results of 2011, China had the greatest share in the Crimea’s total import volume (it accounted for almost 40% of the autonomous republic’s total import volume).
The energy industry presents one of the most promising spheres of cooperation; the PRC intends to invest in building a combined heat and power plant in the Crimea. It will be created at the site of the Shchelkino nuclear power plant, the construction of which was abandoned in 1989. The capacity of the power plant is to amount to 700 MW; its estimated cost is $800 million, and gas will be supplied to it via a special branch from the recently laid Jankoi-Feodosia-Kerch gas pipeline. Furthermore, the gas to be produced on the shelf will also be taken into account.
At the moment, a drilling platform is being installed at the Turkish port of Giresun, which will be the largest and most efficient facility in the Black Sea. It will be set up on the Crimean coast for producing oil and gas on the Ukrainian sea shelf. Furthermore, enough gas will be produced to meet the consumption needs of every sixth utility enterprise in Ukraine.
As for China, it also intends to provide Ukraine with a drilling platform (costing $200 million) for producing hydrocarbons on the shelf under a leasing agreement.
China and the Crimea are also planning to cooperate in agriculture. At the end of 2011 in Beijing, the government of the Crimean Peninsula signed a memorandum on cooperation with the Export-Import Bank of China and China National Machinery Industry Complete Engineering Corporation (CMCEC). The memorandum envisages implementing construction projects of agricultural complexes, including a grain elevator, mixed feed plant, refrigeration facilities, a plant for……………