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Chinese Labour Migration in the Context of a Buryat Village

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image of Inner Asia

Following the collapse of collective farms in the 1990s, the Buryat population initially strove to pursue the same sort of activity on private farmsteads. With a few exceptions, however, these enterprises have not flourished, owing to a lack of state investment and difficult environmental conditions. In the village of Tory, the arrival of Chinese migrant workers in the early 2000s led to the emergence of a parallel economy centred on logging and the processing of wood from the nearby protected national park. This article examines how, despite the illegal character of these activities and the risk of heavy fines and confiscation of equipment, logging has grown to supersede farming as the main source of income for the local population. The author shows that, although the Chinese are frequently perceived as reliable and hard-working, relations between them and the host society have not always been positive. Indeed, despite a generally good working relationship, social exchanges have remained limited.


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