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China says Moscow market dispute resolved

China said Monday it has resolved tensions with Russia over the closure of a Moscow market that hurt thousands of Chinese traders, saying merchants have retrieved most of their goods.
/ Source: The Associated Press

China said Monday it has resolved tensions with Russia over the closure of a Moscow market that hurt thousands of Chinese traders, saying merchants have retrieved most of their goods.

The two sides also agreed to cooperate in regulating informal "gray market" trade, said Sun Yongfu, director the Chinese Ministry of Commerce's Europe division.

"It is basically resolved," Sun said at a news conference.

Police shut down the 740-acre (300-hectare) Cherkizovsky market on June 29 in connection with a smuggling investigation. Russian officials said the market was a hub for smuggling and criminal activity.

The closure sparked tensions with Beijing because thousands of Chinese merchants were initially unable to retrieve their goods.

Sun said about 95 percent of goods seized from Chinese traders, totaling 15,000 cargo boxes and worth about $5 billion, have been returned. He said the rest was due to be handed over in September.

The market's closure prompted a barrage of criticism in Chinese media over "unfair" and "illegal" treatment of the migrant workers.

Trade between China and Russia fell in the first half of year, battered by the financial crisis. But China's direct investment to Russia tripled from the same time last year to $166 million, according to Commerce Minister Chen Deming.

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Associated Press researcher Bonnie Cao in Beijing contributed to this report.

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On the Net:

Ministry of Commerce (in Chinese): http://www.mofcom.gov.cn