The Russian Foreign Ministry has rejected China’s assertion of ownership over a disputed island that has long been a source of tension between Moscow and Beijing. The disagreement centers on Bolshoi Ussuriysky Island, also known as Heixiazi in Chinese, located at the confluence of the Ussuri and Amur rivers, serving as a boundary between Russia and China.
This dispute was reignited when China’s Global Times newspaper published its “2023 edition of Chinese standard map,” indicating China’s claim to the entire Bolshoi Ussuriysky Island. However, the Russian Foreign Ministry has firmly rejected any notion of revisiting the territorial dispute, emphasizing that it had been resolved through bilateral agreements more than 15 years ago.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova asserted that both Russia and China adhere to the shared position that the border issue between the two nations had been conclusively settled. This resolution was achieved through the ratification of the Supplementary Agreement on the Russian-Chinese state border’s eastern part in 2005, which included the division of Bolshoi Ussuriysky Island between the two countries. Zakharova also highlighted that the delineation and demarcation of the entire border, spanning nearly 4,300 kilometers (2,670 miles), had been completed, including the island’s boundary in 2008.
Although the island is presently under joint Russian and Chinese control as stipulated in bilateral agreements, China’s newly published official map suggests its claim to the entire landmass.
Zakharova emphasized that the resolution of this dispute had been the result of years of joint efforts, reflecting the strong relations between Russia and China. This settlement has contributed significantly to regional security and stability and serves as a successful example of resolving border disputes.
Furthermore, Zakharova pointed out that both Russia and China have repeatedly affirmed the absence of mutual territorial claims, with corresponding provisions in the Treaty on Good Neighborliness, Friendship, and Cooperation of July 16, 2001. The two countries have established a robust framework for border cooperation, with an effective Joint Border Commission addressing relevant issues.
China’s publication of this map has also raised tensions with several other neighboring countries, including India, Malaysia, Taiwan, and the Philippines, who have expressed opposition to what they perceive as territorial encroachment.
Chinese officials have defended the map, emphasizing the importance of a correct national map as a symbol of sovereignty and territorial integrity. They view its publication as a routine practice in accordance with Chinese law and have called for objective and calm responses from relevant parties, discouraging overinterpretation of the issue.