For decades the Amur River has separated modern China and Russia – its waters cutting though more than 1,000 of their roughly 2,500 border miles. But it’s always lacked one thing: a vehicle bridge.
Last Friday, Beijing and Moscow feted the launch of another new link – what state media on both sides have called the first highway bridge over the Amur – with rockets trailing colorful smoke bursting overhead, and local officials applauding from the riverbanks, while their superiors beamed in from Moscow and Beijing on giant television screens specially brought in for the day.
A second crossing, the only railway bridge to connect the countries across the river, is expected to open soon.
“The Blagoveshchensk-Heihe bridge has special symbolic significance in today’s disunited world. It will become yet another thread of friendship linking the people of Russia and China,” said Yury Trutnev, the Kremlin’s envoy to the Russian Far East.
The timing of the bridge’s launch underlines Beijing’s interests in that partnership. It comes even as China continues with an unrelenting “zero-Covid” regime, which has seen the country repeatedly tightening land border controls – erecting fences facing Myanmar, backlogging border crossings with stringent checks and even urging its citizens on the North Korean border to shut their windows lest virus blow over.