There are signs that China is beginning to see Eastern Russia as an important "strategic rear area," a proximate overland supplier of a range of vital primary commodities. This is directly related to China's intensifying contest with the U.S. for primacy in the Asia-Pacific. Beijing is increasingly worried that, if this rivalry comes to a head, Washington may use its trump card -- launching a naval blockade of the sea lanes through which China receives most of its imported primary products.
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