To rouse the Chinese and make it to Aliexpress: about how Tatarstan and China to cooperate

The Consulate General of China has been officially opened in Kazan in the former mansion of the Khayrullin brothers

To rouse the Chinese and make it to Aliexpress: about how Tatarstan and China to cooperate Photo: Oleg Tikhonov

The Chinese Consulate General in Kazan after three years of wandering has finally found shelter. The diplomatic mission of China to the Volga Federal District located in the former family estate of the Khayrullin brothers — on Podluzhnaya Street. Only a couple of flashlights remind about the presence of the Chinese in the 'novorussky' cottage so far, but the parties expressed the hope that with the advent of the consulate building the cooperation will develop more intensively. Tatarstan has already charted the tasks, in addition to those related to the industry — to make it to Aliexpress, to open a direct flight, a medical centre and a restaurant. Read more in the material of Realnoe Vremya.

The Chinese settled in the 'novorussky' cottage

The building of the Chinese Consulate General in Kazan is located on Podluzhnaya Street, 21. It is the land plot surrounded by a high fence of red brick with apple orchard and pine trees on the perimeter, an area of 10,000 square metres and large three-storey mansion, also made of red brick. The building was built in the 1990s as a residence for then entrepreneur, billionaire, director of Edelweiss retail chain and the brewing company Krasny Vostok, now deputy of the State Duma Ayrat Khayrullin and his brother, Director General of Edelweiss Corporation JSC Ilshat Khayrullin. The building and the land are now owned by Management Company EnergoInvestCapital PLC. According to SPARK-Interfax, co-owners of the PLC — the Khayrullin brothers, shares in the management company — each has 50%.

The fact that in the cottage, built in 'novorussky' architectural style, there is located the Chinese Consulate General can be understood by a pair of Chinese lanterns, with which it was hastily decorated. Nothing else reminds about the presence of the diplomatic mission with the bright national flavour here. Nevertheless, Yevgeny Tomikhin, Ambassador at Large of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, called the conditions on which the сonsulate settled in Kazan ''the best of all the consulates that operate in Russia''.

''Having received such wonderful conditions, we can expect that the Consulate General in Kazan will become the leader in promoting cooperation in various fields,'' Tomikhin said.

Chinese poetry with Tatar flavour

Let the Chinese style does not prevail in the interior, but you can feel it in the atmosphere. The official opening ceremony of the consulate was started in a very Eastern way.

''It was raining in the morning. It is a good sign. Rain nourishes the earth and helps our tree — the Chinese-Russian friendship — to grow,'' began with the allegory the representative of the consulate — host of the ceremony, along the way noticing ''how picturesque and extraordinarily beautiful are the summer landscapes of Kazan.''

In response, President of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov supported the poetic mood of the representative of China and also noted the life-giving effect of rain.

''Rain is also a good sign in our country. If a deed starts with rain, it's ''haerle segette'' (''the good hour'' from Tatar – editor's note),'' said Rustam Minnikhanov.

Rustam Minnikhanov supported the poetic mood of the representative of China and also noted the life-giving effect of rain

According to Minnikhanov, the geographical location of the consulate will promote Tatarstan in China and Chinese partners in Tatarstan. The Chinese delegation has visited Tatarstan more than 20 times, Minnikhanov has visited China twice this year and two more trips are expected. The trade turnover has increased by 50%. Only direct flights to establish business ties and develop tourism are lacking.

''We need direct flights, it will give a boost — 900 students from China study in Kazan, we really want our students to study in China, too. Huge tourism potential and potential in sport develop if there is a direct flight connection,'' Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov spoke at the opening of the consulate building, noting that China and Russia are strategic partners, and ''our leaders — Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping — are not only partners, but also friends''.

Li Hui, Chinese Ambassador to Russia, holds the same opinion.

''The Chinese-Russian relations are going through the best period in their history, new results in the strategic cooperation have been obtained. In the current context of the complicated international and regional situation, closer contacts between China and Russia not only benefited the two countries and their peoples, but also served as a model of union benefits,'' Li Hui said.

''In the current context of the complicated international and regional situation, closer contacts between China and Russia not only benefited the two countries and their peoples, but also served as a model of union benefits,'' Li Hui said

Chinese medicine and cuisine to be developed in Kazan

Tatarstan and China have long been cooperating. The largest investor is Haier, and we will continue to cooperate with them. The agreements on specific projects will be signed at the Far Eastern Economic Forum, said in an interview with Realnoe Vremya Head of the Tatarstan Investment Development Agency Talia Minullina.

''It is the construction of a ''smart'' plant — the fourth industrial revolution on the territory of Haier industrial park in Naberezhnye Chelny, plus KAMAZ will sign an agreement with Wechai. Haier suppliers have begun to enter. Last year, Hedda invested $7 million, it is registered in Russia as Kamastal — they became residents of Nizhnekamsk. Intel has also entered, they produce plastic products and also invested well,'' Minullina said.

According to her, there are projects in development related to services — the construction of a medical centre in Kazan and a Chinese restaurant.

''We will position it [the medical centre] as a health centre because it is difficult to obtain permission for the provision of medical services. And in this direction it is necessary to work, as Chinese medicine is a serious tool for the development of medical tourism. We have been discussing a Chinese restaurant for a long time. We found the investor, chosen some premises for already the second time. One of the premises on Peterburgskaya Street, which we looked at, belongs to Sberbank, but, unfortunately, this company lost the tender. Now we have chosen another premises. I think that we will do this project this year because there are no Chinese restaurants so far.''

Head of Investment Development Agency highlighted the importance of direct flights, which affects the flow of tourists, business activity and possible cargo transportation

''We can't work as sales managers for Chinese companies''

Talia Minnullina shared the information on other projects with Realnoe Vremya. Many Chinese waste processing companies want to cooperate with Tatarstan. The republic is interested in projects in the field of agriculture.

''We are discussing a huge number of projects on deep processing of grain, it would be potentially beneficial for us. But for some reason it does not work out yet. They are constantly asking for state guarantees, but we do not provide state guarantees — this is the principled position of Tatarstan. This means that we should be engaged in business management, but unfortunately, we do not regulate everything because we are a constituent entity of the Russian Federation. And in this sense, it is developing with difficulty, because they are putting serious pressure on us with these state guarantees. But with other companies it turned out well without guarantees, we are ready to enter into the authorized capital with companies with state participation, for example, or to provide the best conditions in Russia for taxes and benefits, but not in terms of state guarantees for the sale of their products, because we cannot work with Chinese companies like sales managers, with all due respect to the People's Republic of China,'' Minullina shared.

The head of Investment Development Agency also highlighted the importance of direct flights, which affects the flow of tourists, business activity and possible cargo transportation.

''We understand that e-commerce is developing. We are now trying to build a systematic work with Aliexpress on the presentation of enterprises of Tatarstan in this electronic store. Accordingly, logistics is very important here because logistics directly affects the price and the Chinese market. The Chinese market is overheated in many ways, and if we can compete with agricultural products there, then it is very difficult to compete in terms of technology, although we had supplies of the Kazan medical instrument plant there. It is necessary to build marketing research very competently, to look at what the market needs. The biggest potential is agriculture and food,'' Minullina says.

According to her, there are a lot of projects in development, but not all of them reach the final. In general, the Tatarstan side has already developed the idea of the Chinese partners, and these features have to be considered.

''We work with different countries. From the features of China, I can note that they get started quite slowly. They can think for 3, 4, 5 years, but then they quickly implement the tasks and it's great because not all partners are able to build objects so quickly,'' Minullina noticed.

This Chinese feature is strongly reminiscent of the Russian saying ''a slow starter but a fast finisher'', this, in general, explains why the two countries have found a common language.

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By Daria Turtseva. Photo: Oleg Tikhonov
Tatarstan