This article deals with the impact of a major redesign of public space at a cross-border market on the Russian—Chinese border on customer—seller interrelations. The location in question is the Chinese border town of Manzhouli, which, over the last two decades, has risen to become a bustling town of cross-border tourism and retail trade. It will be shown that the large-scale replacement of makeshift market stalls by huge, ostentatious department store buildings is paralleled by the way Chinese traders try to impose a more restricted and rule-governed price regime in their interactions with Russian customers. Russian customers react to this recent shift in appearance and behaviour by sticking to received perceptions of the border as a place outside orderly society and will accordingly reject the Chinese reinterpretation of the cross-border market location.
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As of2010the number of inhabitants appears to have grown to 300000. Other recent sources will give the number of inhabitants as 160000. For an engagingly written history of the growth of Manzhouli cf. Urbansky (2007). For more reliable though by now somewhat dated information on the growth and development of Manzhouli cf. Zhang et al. (2002) who give the number of residents as 184400 according to statistical data from 2000.