RUSSIAN, CHINESE REGIONS STEP UP COMBINED EFFORTS AGAINST TRANSNATIONAL CRIME

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KHABAROVSK/BEIJING, October 13 (RIA Novosti) - The law enforcement bodies of Russia's Far Eastern Federal District and China's Heilongjiang province are stepping up cooperation to ensure security and legal order in the border area, Police Colonel General Anatoly Zolotaryov, chief of the Russian Interior Ministry's central department for the Far Eastern Federal District, told RIA Novosti.

Law enforcers signed an agreement on a joint programme for fighting different kinds of crime, according to General Zolotaryov. They will focus their efforts, above all, on trafficking in and the contraband of drugs, arms, cultural valuables, murders, assaults related to robbery, hostage-taking and other grave crimes.

The law enforcers defined arrangements for exchanging information on the channels, sources and means of the illegal transportation of arms, timber, human beings, drugs and psychotropic substances across the Chinese-Russian border, according to General Zolotaryov.

General Zolotaryov said they had agreed to send groups of operatives to each other's territories for conducting search operations, investigations or arresting criminals if need be. The host country pledges to provide every assistance to such groups.

The number of Chinese residents visiting Russia's Far East has risen by an average of 30%-40% over the past five years, according to General Zolotaryov. Over 300,000 Chinese nationals were registered in the region last year alone.

General Zolotaryov said growing migration flows, visa-free regulations and imperfect laws were conducive to crime in both countries. Therefore, law enforcers are taking measures to ensure law on both sides of the border.

Mr Li Zhou, Director of the Chinese Foreign Ministry's Europe and Central Asia Department has published a statement on the ministry's web site saying that the Chinese government has never encouraged its nationals to resettle to Russia's Far East, a RIA Novosti correspondent reports from China. The diplomat said this while he was taking part in an Internet conference.

"The Chinese government has never had plans or pursued the policy of encouraging emigration to Russia's Far East," said Mr Li Zhou. The diplomat said a minor group of Chinese nationals was living in Russia illegally, which was due to developing border-area trade between Russia and China. However, he said that could not be qualified as migration.

"China has always fought against illegal migration," emphasised the diplomat. He added that China was taking effective measures to prevent illegal migration.

"There are very few illegal immigrants from China in Russia now," said Mr Li Zhou.

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