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Urban Studies

Factors of the formation of settlement systems at the present stage (South of the Russian Far East - Northeast of China).

Ordynskaya Yuliya

PhD in Architecture

Associate Professor, Pacific State University

680035, Russia, Khabarovskii krai, g. Khabarovsk, ul. Tikhookenskaya, 138

Other publications by this author










Abstract: The study examines the development of the Russian-Chinese border area, defines the existing settlement systems, identifies factors affecting their formation. It is noted that a continuous urbanized territory with an actively developing infrastructure has been formed on the Chinese side. On the part of the Russian border a small population, a large number of non-growing settlements, with limited specialization. Large areas are formed on the basis of large cities. This trend has determined the direction of "One city two states": (Khabarovsk Fuyuan, Zabaikalsk Manchuria; Blagoveshchensk Heihe). In the conducted research, the object of study is settlement systems, the subject is the factors of their formation in modern conditions on the territory of the RussianChinese border. The aim is to identify the factors of the formation of settlement for further forecasting of the organization of the border territory of Russia and China. The current trend in the region under consideration is that the border spaces are becoming more interconnected with each other, forming a stable system of cross-border communications. And the introduction of sanctions against Russia, namely the "closure" of the European border, caused a change in the direction of the development vector "to the east", which can become a mechanism for the development of border territories. The novelty of the study lies in the fact that for the first time the structure of the settlement of the south and the Far East at the present stage is considered namely, the zone of active interaction between the two countries (Russia China) the territory along the border. The study identifies and examines the settlement systems of the border zone of Russia and China, as well as the factors of their formation (geographical, enographic, cultural, transport, educational and regional policy).


interaction, factor, settlement system, population, regional, development, cooperate, city, settlement, functional

This article is automatically translated. You can find original text of the article here.

Introduction. Historically, the zone of border settlement was formed in stages, under the influence of many different factors. The settlement of the studied territory had a direction along the waterway (Amur, Aigun). Border cities appearing in the contact zone are cities whose existence is conditioned by the presence of a border. After the official definition of the RussianChinese border, pairs of settlements began to form simultaneously along it against each other, performing exclusively a military watchdog function. In the works of Ordynskaya Yu. V., Kozyrenko N.E., the phased historical formation of settlements in the region was considered in detail [11]. The study of the prospects for the development of the existing cross-border territories (the south of the Far East - Heilongjiang Province, Jilin) is becoming relevant today. Border regions, territories at the turn of different civilizations and cultures, as research proves, can be the basis for accelerated, dynamic development [3]. These questions have been considered in many studies by such authors as D. V. Sergeev, A. A. Riber, E. V. Mikhailova, A. E. Levintov, L.L. Bozhko, G.M. Kostunina, A. G. Anishchenko [1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 15]. Currently, in the Russian-Chinese border zone, there are active zones areas of growth on the basis of historically formed cities Manchuria, Heihe, Suifenhe (China). There is also a tendency for new settlements to appear on the Chinese side of the border. Their location is predetermined by the following circumstances: the presence on the opposite border side of a Russian settlement, not necessarily large, but having stable transport links with administrative centers, large settlements, or resource territories.

In the context of socio-economic relations, the Russian-Chinese border runs through the peripheral territories of both countries. In addition, much less populated and developed lands are located on the Russian territory (Fig.1).

Fig.1. A fragment of the border territory of Russia-China (the Amur River basin in the upper reaches).

Currently, active processes of space transformation are observed in the border area (on both sides). This led to the emergence of new characteristics of socio-economic life on the territory, cross-border communication networks crossing the political borders of states [13]. But the border area actively began to change even before the pandemic. The events of the last two years, of course, have largely not only slowed down the development of cross-border space, but also changed the world. The quarantine of the coronavirus in 2020 "closed" more than a billion people in their homes and this became a unique event in the history of not only all mankind, but also cities [12]. Currently, ties have begun to be actively restored (the completion of the construction of large infrastructure facilities the Tongjiang Nizhneleninskoye Bridge). Due to Western sanctions, the deadlines for commissioning (from 2022 to 2024) of the world's first crossborder cable car across the Amur River between the cities of Blagoveshchensk (RF) and Heihe (PRC) have been temporarily postponed (due to the refusal to supply a cable from a French company (Fig.2).

Figure 2. The project of the cross-border cable car Blagoveshchensk (Russia) - Heihe (China).

In the region under consideration, there are three levels of the border: the macro level of the Amur Region - Heilongjiang Province; the meso level - on the example of Khabarovsk (Khabarovsk Territory) and Fuyuan, Blagoveshchensk (Amur Region) and Heihe (Heihe County), the micro level - Pokrovka (Khabarovsk Territory) - Zhaohe (prov. Heilongjiang).

One of the factors that led to the emergence of a special settlement system is the active formation of agglomerations around the border support cities on the Chinese side from the settlements gravitating towards them with their transformation into independent settlement systems [10]. For example, the area around Heihe is a large agricultural urbanized area. Along the existing highways and railways, small agricultural settlements have been formed, which practically form a single territorial entity due to their proximity to each other. Many sparsely populated villages are based on a large area, as a result of which the city (Heihe) is surrounded by agricultural settlements, in which a multidisciplinary food base has been formed, which can cover the needs of the entire border area (Fig. 3).

Currently , several territorial forms of settlement have developed on both sides of the border:

agglomeration - an increase in the number of city-forming objects, expansion of the socio-economic area, construction of a transport and road system (Khabarovsk, Blagoveshchensk, Vladivostok, Dalnerechensk, etc. (Russia); Suifenhe, Fuyuan, Jixi, Mishan, Heihe, Manchuria, Hunchun, etc. (China) (Fig.4,5);

cross-border agglomeration - the formation of a unified transport infrastructure, the creation of a free economic zone, the possibility of forming a functional planning structure based on uniform norms and rules, (Nizhneleninskoye - Tongjiang, Suifenhe - Border, Lesozavodsk - Hutou, Blagoveshchensk Heihe, Khabarovsk Fuyuan, Zabaikalsk Manchuria). All forms of settlement have their own effectiveness. Agglomeration cities solve the problems of combining places of employment and places of residence, the territorial proximity of public centers (social effect); there is a decrease in migration mobility within the administrative boundaries of the city (demographic effect); inclusion of green zones in inconvenient territories as planning elements, improvement of the ecological situation in the city (natural and ecological effect). Cross-border agglomerations - the possibility of developing environmental protection measures (natural and ecological effect), the possibility of choosing places of employment, social services and places of residence within the borders of connected cities; development of small and medium-sized businesses (social effect)

The following settlement systems are formed on the basis of cities of agglomerations and cross - border agglomerations of the border zone:

national settlement systems - balanced development of all structural elements of the system (Khabarovsk, Blagoveshchenskaya, Vladivostok (Russia); Suifenhe Dunin, Mishan Jisi, Manchuria Jalaynor, etc. (China).

cross-border settlement systems (at the stage of formation of the East Pole, a Window to Asia, New Manchuria) [12].

Fig. 3. Agricultural settlements around Heihe (China).

Fig. 4. The city - agglomeration of Hunchun (China). The author's drawing

Fig. 5. The city - agglomeration of Jixi (China). The author's drawing

If even 15 years ago the Chinese border territories were characterized by uniformity in development, now changes are taking place - uniformity is replaced by point-focused development, where only the most dynamically developing cities become poles of growth [10]. The border support cities (Suifenhe, Dongning, Manchuria, Heihe, Fuyuan, Tongjiang) and the agglomerations formed around them, regardless of their size, are turning into centers for attracting people from villages and small settlements in large numbers located around.

The border region is characterized by a form of settlement with active conjugate development, which includes the entire border zone. Currently, the axis of active urban development on the part of China is the border between the two countries, in which the concentration of settlements occurs.

The reference points in the spatial structure from the Russian side were such cities as Vladivostok, Khabarovsk, Blagoveshchensk, Zabaikalsk. The location of the support cities in the border area prompts the need for their energetic positioning in the nearby regions.

At the present stage, there is a tendency to "converge" space to the border. There is an integrity of such territorial formations cross-border. This trend is provided by a number of factors contributing to the conjugate functioning of the region. Volynchuk A. B. in his research identifies several factors that determine the formation of a single cross-border territory [4]. Some highlighted factors determine the organization of such a space in the region under consideration. One of the most important factors is geographical (river basin, island, Primorsky region, etc.):

the Amur River is the water border between the two countries;

Bolshoy Ussuriysky Island, which is the territory of both countries, is a crossborder zone where the interconnectedness of the region is predetermined by a special geographical factor. Due to this factor, the territory retains its structural integrity, and contributes to its development as a cross-border region. Several concepts have been developed for the development of the island, but so far none has been implemented (casino territory, territory of advanced development (TOP), etc.). There are plans to create, together with the Chinese side, a single complex of protective structures against flooding (due to the catastrophic flood of 2013), infrastructure, utility networks a single cross-border shopping and entertainment zone.

Demographic factor there is a tendency to equalize human potential on both sides of the border and is characterized by intra-territorial cross-border migration (creation of the Suifenhe Free Economic Zone).

The ethnocultural factor consists in the exchange of elements of the cultural traditions of the two territories. So, in the border city of Manchuria (PRC), an attempt is currently being made to represent the whole of Russia in a small area. For example, the construction of a park of national Russian traditions. In the park, the composition center is a smaller copy of the Moscow St. Basil's Cathedral. Nearby there are huge multicolored nesting dolls, as well as copies of sculptures of the Soviet period "Motherland" (E. V. Vuchetich, Volgograd), "The Bronze Horseman" (E. Falcone, St. Petersburg), "Warrior Liberator" (E. V. Vuchetich, Berlin), "Worker and Collective Farmer" (V. I. Mukhina, Moscow) and others (fig. 6).

Fig. 6. Park of National Traditions in the city of Manchuria

The factor of regional policy is the presence on both sides of the border of similar goals and planning for the development of territories, the development of a collective strategy for the development of a crossborder region. The Chinese program for the development of the border region, the development plan for the border zones of Heilongjiang Province and the northeastern part of Inner Mongolia, as well as the Russian target program "Strategy for the socio-economic development of the Far East and the Baikal Region for the period up to 2025" - all areas contribute to the prosperous development of the border areas of the two states, modernization of infrastructure, bilateral relations in in the field of environmental protection.

The factor of educational policy is the construction of an interuniversity campus (national project "Construction and Universities") in the border region (Khabarovsk). Construction is scheduled to begin in 2023. A two-line (Russia - China) exchange of students and teachers, joint scientific works and programs are planned. A planning working group has already been created - representatives of the Ministry of Education of the region, consuls from the Consulate General of the People's Republic of China in Khabarovsk and rectors of universities (An interuniversity campus for the exchange of experience with the People's Republic of China will be built in Khabarovsk [Electronic resource] URL: https://www.hab.kp.ru/online/news/5130627 /)

The factor of transport modernization is the improvement of transport routes, the emergence of hightech high-speed highways connected many settlements. The proximity of a large number of agricultural settlements to small towns on Chinese territory led to continuous development along highways and the transition of settlement to suburbanization.

Conclusion. The study identifies and examines the settlement systems of the border zone of Russia and China, as well as the factors of their formation (geographical, enographic, cultural, transport, educational and regional policy). The following forms of settlement have been identified agglomeration cities, cross-border agglomerations, national and cross-border settlement systems). The analysis of the ongoing territorial contacts between Russia and China, the identification of development factors determines the form of interaction at a specific historical stage. The first stage is local and border contacts, then the second form appears the interaction of territorial entities. Currently, a third form has emerged, characterized by active cross-border cooperation in the context of modern globalization (integration). It involves the interaction of border territories, bypassing the demarcation and manifests itself in the formation of regions of a special type (cross-border settlement systems)[4]. Currently, international functional ties define a new form of settlement based on conjugate settlements.

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5. Zamyatin, D. N. (2006). Culture and space. Modeling of geographical images. Moscow: Znak.
6. Kostyunina, G.M., & Baronov V.I. (2011). Cross–border free economic zones in foreign countries (on the example of China). Bulletin of MGIMO University, 169-17.
7. Levintov, A. E. (2005). Borderline of the city [Electronic resource]. Promedia, 2, 21-25. Retrieved from http://circleplus.ru/circle/kentavr/n/33/9
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15. Riber, A. (2004). Changing concepts and constructions of the frontier: a comparative historical approach. In: Gerasimov, I. V., Glebov, S. V., Kaplunovsky A. P., etc. (ed.), The New Imperial History of the post-Soviet space: Collection of Art. Kazan: Center for Studies of Nationalism and Empir.

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When in the second half of the XVI century. The Moscow state began a gradual transformation from a mono-national to a multinational, this was accompanied by a rapid expansion of borders, primarily in the eastern and south-eastern directions. Already in the middle of the XVIII century, M.V. Lomonosov predicted that "Russian power will grow in Siberia and the Northern Ocean," and the past twentieth century directly raised the issue of ensuring the accelerated development of the Far East. Today, in the context of active trade and economic cooperation with China, it is important to study cross-border cooperation between Russia and China in the Far East, which will undoubtedly contribute to the accelerated development of the two countries. These circumstances determine the relevance of the article submitted for review, the subject of which is the factors of the formation of settlement systems at the present stage. The author sets out to consider the territorial forms of settlement in the borderlands of the south of the Russian Far East and the northeast of the PRC, as well as to identify a number of factors contributing to the conjugate functioning of the region. The work is based on the principles of analysis and synthesis, reliability, objectivity, the methodological basis of the research is a systematic approach, which is based on the consideration of the object as an integral complex of interrelated elements. The scientific novelty of the article lies in the very formulation of the topic: the author seeks to characterize the settlement in the border zone of Russia and China. Considering the bibliographic list of the article, as a positive point, we note its versatility: in total, the list of references includes 15 different sources and studies. Among the works attracted by the author, we note the works of L.L. Bozhko, E.V. Mikhailova, A.E. Levintov, whose focus is on various aspects of the development of border territories, as well as the research of Y.V. Ordynskaya and N.V. Prokhorova, whose focus is on Russian-Chinese cooperation in the cross-border zone. Note that the bibliography of the article is important both from a scientific and educational point of view: after reading the text of the article, readers can turn to other materials on its topic. In general, in our opinion, the integrated use of various sources and research contributed to the solution of the tasks facing the author. The style of writing the article can be attributed to scientific, but at the same time understandable not only to specialists, but also to a wide readership, to anyone interested in both relations between Russia and China, in general, and cross-border cooperation, in particular. The appeal to the opponents is presented at the level of the collected information received by the author during the work on the topic of the article. The structure of the work is characterized by a certain logic and consistency, it can be distinguished by an introduction, the main part, and conclusion. At the beginning, the author defines the relevance of the topic, shows that "in the context of socio-economic relations, the Russian-Chinese border runs through the peripheral territories of both countries," while "significantly less populated and developed lands are located on Russian territory." The paper shows a number of factors determining the formation of a single cross-border territory: geographical (Amur River, Bolshoy Ussuriysky Island), demographic, ethnocultural, factors of regional and educational policy, transport modernization. Considering the ethnocultural factor, the author gives an example of the creation of a park of national Russian traditions in the city of Manchuria, which, among other things, presents a reduced copy of the Moscow St. Basil's Cathedral. The main conclusion of the article is that the author identifies three stages of border interaction between Russia and China: the first stage is local and crossborder contacts, the second form is the interaction of territorial entities, the third form is characterized by active cross-border cooperation in the context of modern integration. The article submitted for review is devoted to an urgent topic, is provided with 6 drawings, will arouse readers' interest, and its materials can be used both in training courses and as part of the formation of strategies for Russian-Chinese cross-border cooperation. There are separate remarks to the article, primarily of a stylistic nature: for example, in the final paragraph, the author begins sentences twice on a small fragment with the words "currently", etc. However, in general, in our opinion, the article can be recommended for publication in the journal Urbanistics.
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