Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Window on Eurasia: Are There Really More Chinese than Ukrainians Working in Russia?

Paul Goble

Vienna, June 6 – According to the Federal Migration Service (FMS), there were 210,000 Chinese citizens registered to work in the Russian Federation at the end of 2006, a figure that means there are now more registered Chinese workers in that country than Ukrainian citizens (of whom 170,000 were registered at that time) working there.
Forty percent of these registered Chinese workers are employed in Moscow, the FMS report continued, where they form approximately 20 percent of all registered foreign workers. Twenty-three percent of the Chinese work in the Far East, and 19 percent in Siberia. Overwhelmingly – 62 percent – work in trade.
But in reporting these figures today, the Moscow newspaper “Vedomosti” cast doubt on their usefulness as indicators of how many citizens of the Chinese People’s Republic or even more on how many other foreigners are in fact working in the Russian economy (
According to estimates prepared by the FMS itself in 2005, there were more than 12 million foreigners employed in the Russian Federation, although very few of them were registered. And the paper gave as example the case of the Georgians: There are an estimated one million Georgians working in Russia, but only 4300 of them are registered.
Chinese workers, “Vedomosti” pointed out, are “one of the most disciplined group of migrants, the overwhelming majority of whom are officially registered.” That means that when the total numbers of registered foreign workers are compared, they occupy first place. But when all foreign workers are, they fall far down the list.
And even with the Chinese, the actual number is almost certainly higher than the total registered. Andrei Karneyev, a scholar at Moscow’s Institute of Asian and African Countries, suggested that the real number of Chinese citizens employed in Russia “is significantly more than” the latest FMS statistics suggest.

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