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    Bordering on Recovery: Life on China’s Russian Frontier

    It has now been four months since China relaxed its pandemic border restrictions. In Suifenhe, a city near the China-Russia border, cargo trade between the two countries is bouncing back strongly. Yet, the picture is more complex for small businesses here.

    After China reformed and opened up its economy in the 1980s, Suifenhe rose to prosperity as a hub for China-Russia trade. However, the fortunes of local trading firms have declined in recent years.

    The downturn in the Russian economy since 2014 has hit Suifenhe’s export business hard. Then came the pandemic, which brought waves of lockdowns lasting over 120 days in total. Now, the war in Ukraine is dampening demand for trade and tourism even further.

    Suifenhe is doing what it can to adapt. Local businesses have pivoted to importing goods from Russia, or selling products via cross-border e-commerce, to boost sales. For many, however, it’s an uphill battle.

    This is the second installment of “Bordering on Recovery,” a video series documenting life in China’s border regions after three years of COVID travel bans. Watch part one here.

    Reporters: Xue Haolin and Lü Xiao; video editor: Lü Xiao and Xue Haolin; senior producer: Fu Beimeng; story editors: Dominic Morgan, Fu Beimeng, and Jen Kwan; motion graphics: Fu Xiaofan and Luo Yahan; copy editor: Matthew Hall; executive producer: Qi Ya; contribution: Li Pasha.