Chinese diplomats in Kazan remain in a 'secret state'

The Tatarstan capital has PRC’s consul general, but the consulate is to open not earlier than 2018

Chinese diplomats in Kazan remain in a 'secret state' Photo: Maksim Platonov

Despite all the statements, the Chinese consulate in Kazan has not opened in Kazan yet. The consul general to the Republic of Tatarstan has been appointed, he has headquarters but there is no consulate. Realnoe Vremya found out that Chinese diplomats continue looking for a suitable place, while the consulate is to open not earlier than 2018.

Do you see the consulate? No? But it exists!

Many people waited for the Consulate of the People's Republic of China to open in Kazan. First of all, it is needed to solve tourist and business problems. However, despite all the statements and decisions, the consulate in the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan still can't open. We did not manage to find the address of PRC's diplomatic mission on the map of Kazan or in some search system. Neither it is present on the list of consulates on the page of PRC's embassy to the Russian Federation. The list of consulates has Saint Petersburg, Ekaterinburg, Irkutsk and Khabarovsk.

But there is a consul general in Kazan. Now Mr U Yingjin occupies this post now. Earlier Mr Cheng Wei was the consul during a year. Chinese consuls regularly meet with representatives of Tatar authorities, participate in different cultural and educational programmes. But it is impossible to find the consulate, for instance, in Kazan. In general, the Chinese consulate for Kazan became like the gopher in Demobbed comedy: nobody sees it but it exists.

As early as the early 2010s, Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov told about Kazan's perspectives and mentioned that it would be good to open several foreign diplomatic missions, including Chinese. Photo: kremlin.ru

Long start

It was thought for a long time whether to open the consulate or not. As early as the early 2010s, Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov told about Kazan's perspectives and mentioned that it would be good to open several foreign diplomatic missions, including Chinese. But the first messages about the consulate general in the capital of Tatarstan appeared in summer 2015. There were many contacts with Chinese regions by that time, mutual tourist contacts were discussed everywhere, meetings about business cooperation were held from time to time.

In September 2015, the government of Russian charged the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with exchanging corresponding notes, then the agreement on opening the Consulate General to the Russian Federation was to come into force. The opening of the consulate surfaced in the media many times during the year. But speaker of the Federation Council Valentina Matvienko who paid a business visit to the People's Republic of China and surprised journalists with a message that 'the decision to open the Consulate General of the Russian Federation to Wuhan and the Consulate General of PRC to Kazan at the highest political level' depends on how soon the money for them was found.

Matvienko did not specify what for the money was needed and for whom. But Tatarstan Prime Minister Ildar Khalikov received acting Consul General of the People's Republic of China to Kazan Mr Cheng Wei on 31 October 2016 already. Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov met with him two weeks later.

Even a place for the consulate was found in 2016. About 100 square metres in Suvar Plaza office block that has several floors with A class offices apart from shopping mall was leased. The Consulate of Hungary (on the fifth floor) and Consulate of Iran (on the third) had already chosen Suvar Plaza as their headquarters. A major overhaul deliberately for the new Chinese lessees was given in autumn 2016. The very centre confirms that the diplomats really accommodated there, but the consulate did not open for visitors.

About 100 square metres in Suvar Plaza office block that has several floors with A class offices apart from shopping mall was leased. Photo: vsedomarossii.ru

Wait for the consulate not earlier than 2018

The very consul general commented Realnoe Vremya the situation with the opening of PRC's consulate in Kazan in a very diplomatic and Eastern way. ''It is more correct to say that the consulate has been founded. But it has not opened officially. It will open in the short run. We are at the initial stage of the establishment of the Consulate General,'' Mr Yingjin explained.

It turned out Suvar Plaza was the diplomats' temporary office. The search for a place continues.

''After we find a suitable place for the Consulate General, we will open it,'' Mr Yingjin confirmed. ''The foundation of the Consulate General in Kazan has a very important meaning for the cooperation of China and Russia. Today Chinese-Russian relations are at the highest level in history.''

Mr Yingjin did not tell why the current headquarters did not suit. According to the consul general, the real opening won't be earlier than 2018.

By Dmitry Semyagin, Evgeniya Gazizova
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