People pass by a local store selling Russian products in Harbin, capital of Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province on Sunday. (Photo: Chen Qingqing/GT)
Russia has been facing increased isolation from the West, which has slapped harsh economic sanctions on the country, but it has found an eager recipient for its exports in Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province.
Traders and consumers in Heilongjiang said they have seen what they describe as a "honeymoon" period of robust Sino-Russian trade recently, partly because officials there have opened up the local market to Russian goods and political ties between China and Russia have been growing stronger. However, vicious competition as well as a trade deficit will continue to exist, they noted.
The bilateral trade boom of recent months is evident in stores in Harbin, the provincial capital. In one grocery store, shelves were filled with hundreds of Russian products, including chocolate, flour and other food goods.
Wang Liang, manager of the store, told the Global Times on Sunday that more and more Chinese consumers prefer buying Russian products because they are eco-friendly and of good quality, adding that trade will be boosted by closer Sino-Russian ties.
"Russia and China will become even closer after the recent sanctions imposed on Russia by the US, and we'll see more business opportunities on both sides," Wang said, referring to the latest round of sanctions from the US on Russia's energy sector.
Sun Jialiang, who runs another imported product store in the city center, even hired a Russian baker from Russia's Far Eastern city of Ussuriysk to attract more customers when the store was opened last September.
Most of the products in Sun's store are imported from Russia through Suifenhe, a major land port and gateway to the Russian port city of Vladivostok.
"Some businesses in the city have been increasing their orders from Russia, which shows how high confidence has become," Sun noted.
These stores were just two examples that highlighted the recent rebound in trade with Russia after steep declines a few years ago, and local businesses are now focusing more on importing Russian goods, according to You Xu, director of the grocery store managed by Wang. The store used to export shoes and clothes to Russia, but You recently decided to adjust his business strategy to focus on importing Russian goods.
"It is obvious that we are enjoying a Sino-Russian honeymoon today," You declared.