Appearance and Appliance of the Twin-Cities Concept on the Russian-Chinese Border
Keywords: Trans-border agglomeration, Twin-cities, Border Cities, Intermunicipal Cooperation, Territorial Development of the Borderland, Media coverage of Cross-border cooperation, Russian-Chinese borderland
Abstract. The article is devoted to the city pair of Blagoveshchensk (Russia) and Heihe (People’s Republic of China), the only city pair in Russian-Chinese borderland that describes itself with the term "twin-cities". The current contribution reconstructs the history of appearance of the twin-cities concept in Russian-Chinese agenda. On the basis of interviews and questionnaires collected in the cities in question the paper examines specificity of understanding of "twin-cities" concept and its practical execution in the Asian context. Exploring the extent to which the twin-cities relations model is applicable to Russian-Chinese border cities, the author concludes that cooperation predominantly exists in a form of bilateral annual events in various spheres (culture, education, sport, etc.) and dialog between delegations of region's/city's representatives, not in a form of direct people-to-people or institution-to-institution cooperation. The lack of local initiatives to cooperate (almost zero-amount of initiatives not from region's/city's administrations) is named as a main drawback of Blagoveshchensk and Heihe relations. While planned character of cooperation makes the calendar of joint events stable and predictable, it also keeps Russian-Chinese cooperation staying on the ritual level and prevents it to become a necessary part of everyday life.