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From West to East ... - EastRussia | Interview






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From West to East ...

The Deputy Director of the Institute, Doctor of Political Sciences, the famous expert on foreign policy of the countries of Europe and the Asia-Pacific region (FNR), Fedor Voitolovsky, told the ER correspondent about the opening of the representative office of the Institute of World Economy and International Relations of the Russian Academy of Sciences in FEFU.

17 February Fedor Voitolovsky arrived in Vladivostok with a constituent visit. Within the walls of the FEFU, the foreign policy expert read two lectures, held one round table, told the ER correspondent about the mission of the new department, and shared his views on the prospects for Russia's relations with the two other major powers of the region, the US and China.

From West to East ...
- Fedor Genrikhovich, in your prelude to the first lecture in Vladivostok, you said that FEFU will become a kind of outpost of IMEMO in the Far East?

- That's right. The Department of IMEMO, which will begin to work here from the beginning of the next academic year in the structure of the School of Economics and Management of the FEFU, will consist of both our invited specialists (they will periodically come here) and the professors of the FEFU - historians, economists, orientalists, political scientists and . And we expect to involve in the research work as professors and associate professors, as well as young scientists, post-graduate students, undergraduates, who prepare themselves for a scientific career.

In other words, our goal is to explore the geopolitical processes and trends in the APR countries with the help of theoretical schools and the IMEMO methodology, developed over half a century (the richest practice of systematic historical analysis, for example), but with the active involvement of Far Eastern specialists who live here, often more They see in detail some aspects of regional reality. And in FEFU in the field of the humanities, as I have already managed to make sure, many bright heads are working and studying.

In general, we expect a powerful synergetic effect from the joint work of the IMEMO and FEFU professionals. The fruit of this effort will be analytical reports, reviews, forecasts, recommendations in the end - for both regional and federal authorities on the issues of strategic decisions in the Pacific direction.

- The “round table” under your chairmanship was called: “Relations in the Russia-China-USA triangle in the APR. The uncertainty factor. Is it possible to liken this triangle to love and what is the uncertainty?

- In politics, it is more appropriate to talk about periodically changing interests, rather than about constant love. The formula of the triangle "Russia-China-USA" belongs to the well-known political adviser of American presidents - Henry Kissinger. He was the first American expert to put the People's Republic of China (PRC) on a par with the two superpowers - the USSR and the United States.

In the triangle of Kissinger, it was assumed that the US should build relations with the Soviet Union and China so that the connection between the USSR and the PRC was obviously worse than that of each of them with America. Today, especially in the light of the Ukrainian crisis and the sharp deterioration in Russia's relations with the West, it can be recognized that the triangle has turned over: China has found itself in the position the US wanted to be: it has relations with the other two countries much better than the United States and Russia between themselves. But how long this state of affairs will last is not yet clear.

Although we can assume that the future of US-China relations will largely depend on how the military potential of the PRC will develop. China is becoming an increasingly important unit in the global military balance. And this, on the one hand, can not but concern Washington, and on the other hand it plays into the hands of the military party in the American establishment: one can justify the growth of US military expenditures and orient them to contain Chinese forces in the APR.

Other components of the uncertainty factor can be expressed in a whole hail of questions. They all relate to the relationship between the three major powers of the region in the coming 10-15 years. And there is no definite answer to any of these questions. For example, how deep and lasting will be the cooperation between Russia and China in the economic and political sphere (a question that is very exciting for the US)? Will Russia and China become military allies, for example? What will be the level of competition between Russia and the US in the geopolitical space of Pacific Asia? Will it lead to easy disagreements or rise to the heights of a tough confrontation (the new cold war) in all directions? To what extent will China expand its influence on the region, primarily the countries of Southeast Asia? How will the problems of nuclear security in the region be solved? How, for example, will the countries of the region react to the subsequent tests of nuclear weapons by the ruling regime of North Korea? In what direction will the Chinese economy and the Chinese political system evolve? Will the Chinese military-industrial complex intensively develop? How successful will Russia be able to integrate its Far East into the economies of the APR countries? How will China's territorial disputes with other states in the region in the South China and East China Seas be resolved? Will the level of confrontation between the countries-participants of conflicts increase at the same time? What will be the degree of US involvement in these disputes?

The lack of answers to these questions introduces a certain discomfort in relations both inside and outside the US-Russia-China contour. Of course, the elites and expert communities of all countries in Pacific Asia are involved in the process of finding answers to the challenges of the near future. Among them, on the part of Russia, and our Institute.

- Does the US desire to dominate the Asia-Pacific region put an end to all Russia's attempts to build economic cooperation with China and other countries in the region? It is no secret, for example, that for some reason the Russian-Korean project of Transsib modernization from 2012 was buried. It is still questionable that the transcontinental Chinese "New Silk Road" passes through Russia ...

- I would not focus on the overly insidious US in these matters. Americans are pragmatists. And in any cooperation of their potential and relevant partners with third countries, they seek benefits for themselves. From these positions, they may be interested in the modernization of Transsib and the passage of the “New Silk Road” through Russia. Why not, if it significantly optimizes transport costs, including for American companies?

Of course, the American establishment understands that the long-term prospect longed for for China, the continental power, is to minimize its dependence on sea lanes controlled by the US Navy. Washington is well aware of the fact that China wants to gain access to the resources of Central Asia through the creation of a powerful logistics infrastructure on its territory. Someone from the representatives of the American political elite is of some concern, but many representatives of the business elite tend to find in this development of events, on the contrary, many business benefits for themselves.

On the other hand, the United States in general has no resources to prevent the fruitful striving of Russia and China to cooperate with each other. Yes, Washington can put some pressure on South Korea, hindering the development of its economic relations with Russia. But here we should not forget about other objective factors that prevent the disclosure of our transit opportunities. For example, the same China is not particularly interested in the development of logistics relations between Russia and North Korea.

- The free trade zone under the auspices of the United States of America - the TransTihoKen Partnership (TTP), which does not include Russia and China, poses a threat to the effectiveness of Russia's attempts to integrate our Far East into the economic space of the Asia-Pacific Region with the help of the same territories of advanced development and the free Vladivostok port?

- I do not think so. With the help of the TTP, the US, as it were, formalizes the existing de facto status of a global player, capable of setting the international practice of goods movement. But the presence of TTP does not prevent China or Russia from attracting investors to its territory by creating favorable tax and customs regimes. Moreover, it is not only foreign investors, but also domestic investors. In addition to the TTP, there is a number of well-established international regional economic associations of countries - like ASEAN or APEC - in which you can cooperate with different countries in the region to implement mutually beneficial projects.

In general, the implementation of the initiative of the Trans-Pacific Partnership as a free trade area without China is a key moment in the development of modern American-Chinese relations. This is an extremely interesting political phenomenon that brings both countries to a whole new level of relations. He will determine the policy of the next US administration.

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Fedor Voitolovsky is a graduate of the Faculty of History of Moscow State University named after MV Lomonosov. Lomonosov in 2001 year. In 2004 he defended his thesis on the topic: "Reflecting the processes of political globalization in the minds of political elites and social movements of the United States and the EU. In 2013, a doctoral thesis on "The ideology and practice of atlantism in US foreign policy". Sphere of scientific interests: foreign policy and US security policy; NATO; Relations with the US allies; US policy in Pacific Asia; international organizations; Global governance; Forecasting of international political processes. Author of more than 55 publications. Laureate of the RAS Medals for Young Scientists for 2008 year for the monograph "Unity and Disunity of the West".