Russia to hand over two border islands to China

July 4th, 2008 - 7:53 pm ICT by IANS  

RIA Novosti
Khabarovsk (Russia), July 4 (RIA Novosti) Russia would hand over two border river islands to China in August, a senior Russian security official said Friday. Under the 2004 agreement, Russia is to hand over to China the Tarabarov and about half of the Bolshoi Ussuriysky islands (around 375 sq km) located at the junction of the Amur and the Ussuri rivers.

The islands are close to the Russian city of Khabarovsk.

“Frontier checkpoints on the islands have been moved to a different location, where border guards will relocate in August,” General Valery Putov, head of the Federal Security Service’s (FSB) Far East department, said.

“And a 10-km section of the border near Khabarovsk has been equipped with alarm systems, video surveillance cameras and thermal imaging devices,” he said.

The two islands - occupied by the erstwhile Soviet Union in 1929 and referred to collectively in Chinese as the Heixiazi - were the site of several military skirmishes during the 1960s.

The 2004 agreement on the eastern sector of the 4,300 km border, the world’s longest land frontier, was signed after China agreed to drop territorial claims to the other islands around Khabarovsk. The deal put an end to a decades-long territorial dispute between the two states.

Russia and China signed border agreements in 1991 and 1994 delimiting the eastern and western sections of their frontier, but several minor sectors were left unresolved.

The agreement has not met complete support in both countries. Nationalists in Russia rallied against “ceding Russian territory”, while commentators in Hong Kong and Taiwan criticised the document as sealing the loss of former Chinese territory.

Concerns were also raised in Russia about the proximity of the Chinese border to Khabarovsk. Russian officials said there was no military threat from the country.
RIA Novosti

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