Two cities link neighbors for trade at their ports of entry
Suifenhe and Heihe are two major cross-border ports in Heilongjiang province, which shares a 2,981-kilometer border with Russia.
About 190 kilometers from Vladivostok and one of the largest cities in Russia’s Far East, Suifenhe has 200,000 residents. It is the biggest Sino-Russian trade hub in Heilongjiang province.
In the first four months of 2016, trade with Russia amounted to 3.97 billion yuan ($590 million)— 88.5 percent of its total.
Rail and highway crossings connect Suifenhe to Russia, with 950,000 passengers annually. Trains carrying timber and coal from Russia stop in Suifenhe before continuing to various cities in China.
Suifenhe has a free-trade zone and hundreds of Russian food stores, including a 30,000-square-meter market. It is also the only Chinese city where rubles are accepted— about 24 billion rubles ($378 million) annually.
Suifenhe hopes to develop its timber, agriculture, and seafood processing industries to becomea Sino-Russian industry center for regional cooperation.
The city, with its population of 1.7 million, is 700 meters from the Russian town of Blagoveshchensk, which has 200,000 residents. The two cities are separated by the Heilongjiang River, also known as the Amur.
Heihe sees 1 million passengers annually, themost among all Heilongjiang ports.
Visitors take ferries or hovercraft to get across the border on warmer days.
In the first six months of 2016, trade with Russia was 1.96 billion yuan ($291 million)— 96 percent of the total.
There is no bridge linking Heihe and Blagoveshchensk. However, in September last year, China and Russia signed an agreement for the construction of a newbridge connecting the two cities and nations.
Heihe aspires to be a regional logistics and distribution center for Sino-Russian energy resources.