Fam­ily zooms in on Sino-Rus­sian trade Three gen­er­a­tions have doc­u­mented the de­vel­op­ment of peo­ple-to-peo­ple ties be­tween the two coun­tries

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA -

Af­ter a sum­mer rain shower, Qiu Xian­glin takes his cam­era and walks along the Hei­longjiang River, which serves as a bound­ary be­tween China and Rus­sia, hop­ing to cap­ture a rain­bow stretch­ing over the river be­tween Hei­long jiang prov­ince’s Heihe city and the Rus­sian city of Blagoveshchensk.

“It is the most beau­ti­ful im­age I can cap­ture,” said 74-year-old Qiu, for­mer chief pho­to­jour­nal­ist for Heihe Daily. For 40 years, he recorded the changes in Sino-Rus­sian eco­nomic and trade co­op­er­a­tion, tak­ing more than 100,000 photos.

Wa­ter­mel­ons in Ex­change for Chem­i­cal Fer­til­iz­ers is one of his most fa­mous works. It was taken in Septem­ber 1987, shortly af­ter trade through Heihe Port was re­sumed. “Our side traded 208 met­ric tons of wa­ter­mel­ons for more than 300 met­ric tons of much-needed fer­til­iz­ers,” Qiu said.

Over the years, trade has flour­ished be­tween the two sides, and Qiu has wit­nessed a lot of it first­hand.

“Heihe’s peo­ple-to-peo­ple trade with the for­mer USSR was the most dy­namic — a scene not seen in other Chi­nese cities,” Qiu said. “The cen­tral street was filled with wheeler-deal­ers who traded sports­wear with the Sovi­ets for wool coats.”

China’s light in­dus­trial prod­ucts such as cloth­ing, shoes and hats were pop­u­lar on the other side, while Soviet leather and metal prod­ucts won the hearts of Chi­nese.

In or­der to sat­isfy the needs of both sides, the first eco­nomic and trade fair be­tween China and the then-USSR, as well as east­ern Eu­ro­pean coun­tries, was held by the for­mer min­istry of for­eign trade and eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion — which is now the Min­istry of Com­merce — and the provin­cial gov­ern­ment of Hei­long jiang in the provin­cial cap­i­tal of Harbin in 1990.

“Barter trade was ba­si­cally the ma­jor mode of do­ing busi­ness, which was the pre­cur­sor to the Harbin In­ter­na­tional Eco­nomic and Trade Fair,” said Qiu, who took many pic­tures of the event.

Three Mid­dle-Aged Men with Hands Clasped Be­hind Their Backs, Bend­ing Over and In­spect­ing Crafts Made of Birch is a photo taken at the 23rd Harbin In­ter­na­tional Eco­nomic and Trade Fair in 2012 by Qiu’s son, Qiu Qi­long.

Af­ter the dis­so­lu­tion of the Soviet Union, the fair un­der­went sev­eral changes be­fore tak­ing its fi­nal form, fo­cus­ing on Rus­sia.

Qiu Qi­long fol­lowed in his fa­ther’s foot­steps, con­tin­u­ing to pho­to­graph scenes from the fair ev­ery year.

In 2014, the 25 th edi­tion of the fair was up­graded to the China-Rus­sia Expo. The same year, Qiu Guodong, 19, bid farewell to his home­town of Heihe, leav­ing to study at Hei­long jiang In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy in Harbin.

In­flu­enced by his fa­ther and grand­fa­ther, Qiu Guodong has been doc­u­ment­ing Chi­naRus­sia ties since he was a child. Flu­ent in Rus­sian, he has a cer­tain af­fec­tion for the coun­try.

“My fa­ther of­ten talked to me about what the trade fair looked like, but what I saw in per­son was a lot dif­fer­ent,” Qiu Guodong said.

Step­ping into the Harbin In­ter­na­tional Con­fer­ence and Ex­hi­bi­tion Cen­ter, where the fourth China-Rus­sia Expo was held from June 14 to 18, left him shocked.

Cut­ting-edge ex­hibits, such as a model of China’s manned deep-sea re­search sub­mersible Jiao­long, an un­manned plane, nan­otech­nol­ogy and graphene, changed his thoughts about Sino-Rus­sian co­op­er­a­tion.

It en­cour­aged him to con­duct re­search on cross-bor­der e-com­merce be­tween China and Rus­sia. “Col­lege stu­dents are en­cour­aged to start their own busi­ness, and I think my home­town has some ad­van­tages,” he said.

This year’s expo also fo­cused on fur­ther ex­pand­ing com- mon ground for the de­vel­op­ment of the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive and the Eurasian Eco­nomic Union, with mer­chants and gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials from 74 coun­tries and re­gions par­tic­i­pat­ing in the event.

Af­ter another sum­mer rain shower, Qui Xian­glin once again walks along the Hei­long jiang River, but there is no rain­bow in sight. In­stead, he raises his cam­era and takes a pic­ture of a bridge be­ing built. It will con­nect Heihe and Blagoveshchensk, bring­ing the twin cities even closer.

QIU XIAN­GLIN / FOR CHINA DAILY

A rain­bow con­nects Heihe in Hei­longjiang prov­ince and the Rus­sian city of Blagoveshchensk.

QIU GUODONG / FOR CHI­NADAILY

Chil­dren from the two cities play a game to­gether in Heihe, in Septem­ber, 2007.

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

From left: Qiu Xian­glin, Qiu Guodong and Qiu Qi­long at Heihe Port.

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