07/22/2008, 00.00
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Moscow and Beijing agree on borders after 80 years

The borders have been drawn for the Heixiazi islands, occupied by Russia during the border war of 1929. But the meaning of the agreement is above all political, an indicator of the increasingly close relationship between the two giants.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - China and Russia have agreed on borders contested since the war of 1929. In Beijing, foreign ministers Yang Jiechi and Sergey Lavrov have signed a "repartition" of the contested 327 square kilometers in the extreme north of China.

According to unofficial information, Moscow is giving back the island of Yinling and half of the island of Heixiazi, a territory of about 174 square kilometers. The islands are at the confluence of the Heilong and Wusuli rivers, in the Chinese province of Heilongjiang.

Yang observed emphatically that "it means that the 4,300km border between us has been demarcated", and he stressed the "Sino-Russian strategic partnership in recent years".

Lavrov also reiterated that the importance of the agreement is above all political, and creates further possibilities for "friendship and cooperation" between the two countries.

Experts observe that the agreement is also a demonstration of the good economic relationship between the two countries, after the border dispute, during the Cold War era, almost led to armed conflict in 1969. Now China needs Russian energy, and Moscow sees China as an immense market: trade has grown by 60% in the first five months of 2008, while in the international field the two countries have often taken common positions. The economy of far eastern Russia is growing rapidly, and for some time businessmen have been discussing with the government of Heilongjiang the creation of a free trade zone near the border.

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