A delegation of Chinese investors, who visited Crimea in early March and held talks with the government of the peninsula, discussing the tourism potential and prospects for economic cooperation, turned out to be a group of small vendors from Moscow wholesale and retail markets, reports the news website Meduza citing representatives of the Chinese diaspora in Moscow.
Chen Shanwen, Chen Yong and Zhao Kai visited Crimea on March 11. They visited wineries and resorts, and participated in a roundtable with members of the peninsula's government - Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Irina Kiviko and Deputy Minister of Resorts and Tourism Yulia Martynenko.
The Crimean State Fund for Entrepreneurship Support called the Chinese an "official delegation" and Russian state-owned Rossiya-24 TV channel as an "export-import commission." But there were no reports about this visit in Chinese sources. The Chinese state news agency Xinhua, the official newspaper of the Communist Party Jenmin Jibao, Chinese government departments were silent about it.
Russian media named one of the participants of the visit, Zhao Kai, CEO of the Beijing Export-Import Trade Company Kai Sheng, which, according to Meduza, does not appear in the official Chinese business registry.
The other two members of the delegation are co-owners of Hao Lan, a company registered in the city of Yuyan, Zhejiang province. In the registry, the company is listed as a small business, engaged in the production of leather, fur and feather products and the sale of shoes.
In fact, all three members of the delegation to Crimea have been living in Moscow for many years and are doing business here, a representative of the Moscow Chinese diaspora told Meduza.
After seeing photo and video reports, the Chinese living in the Russian capital identified their acquaintances. Chen Shanwen, Chen Yong and Zhao Kai, according to Meduza sources, are closely related to each other. They sell consumer goods in Sadovod wholesale and retail market in Moscow.
In February 2014, armed people in uniforms without insignias appeared in Crimea and captured the Supreme Council of Crimea, the Simferopol Airport, the Kerch ferry crossing and other strategic objects, and prevented the Ukrainian army from taking action. Initially, the Russian government refused to acknowledge that these armed people were Russian soldiers, but President Vladimir Putin later admitted it.
On 16 March 2014, a referendum on the status of Crimea was held in Crimea and Sevastopol, in which the inhabitants supposedly voted for the peninsula to become part of Russia. The outcome of the so-called referendum is not recognized by Ukraine, the EU or the US. On 18 March, Putin announced the “annexation” of Crimea to Russia.
International organizations have declared the annexation illegal and condemned Russia’s actions. Western countries have imposed economic sanctions on Russia in connection with the annexation. Russia claims to have “restored historical justice”. Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, declared 20 February 2014 the start of Russia’s temporary occupation of Crimea and Sevastopol.