Sep/Oct 2018 Current Moscow Time: 10:06:25
25 September 2018

  The world’s biggest country, in a magazine. Since 1956.

Pivot to the Celestial Empire

Author: Eugenia Kuznetsova

Sep/Oct 2015
Page 46   ( 6 pages)

Summary: Russia is seeing a boom in tourism from China. Why is that, and what does it mean?


“Oh, I like Moscow! It’s much freer than in Beijing or Guangzhou,” said Tianxio Peng, as she shouted and jumped into the air, evoking applause from passersby.

Peng is 26, and is visiting Russia for the seventh time. This time she brought along her mother, grandmother, and fiancé. Peng said that, although the Chinese used to think that Russia was a wild and dangerous country, she feels that nothing could be further from the truth.

Tianxio Peng fell for Russia before she turned 16. She read Tolstoy and decided she needed to learn Russian. But instead of pursuing an advanced degree in Russian literature, she became a Chinese teacher in Moscow, then a consultant to the China Friendly program implemented by the Russian tourism industry to make the country more comfortable and attractive to Chinese visitors. “It’s not so hard,” she said, as she stepped across sunny Pokrovka Street. “I just explain some basic rules to Russian restaurateurs and hoteliers. Like that you shouldn’t put Chinese guests on the 13th floor. And that you shouldn’t put sticks in their food – it is a terrible insult, because we also use sticks for collecting the ashes of the dead.”

In general, Peng said that in recent years she has become closer to Russia than to her native China. “You have freedom here, the opposition, even the curses that are not in China, and you can always go to people’s homes uninvited,” she laughed. “To us that’s a freedom we don’t even dream of.”

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