The Valdai Discussion Club offers a very good opportunity to address our questions to the president and other Russian leaders openly and directly in a relaxed atmosphere.
Valdaiclub.com interview with Feng Shaolei, Director of the Centre for Russian Studies, East China Normal University, member of the Valdai Discussion Club.
How important is the issue of national identity for Russia and China? What challenges is China facing in this regard?
What is the main outcome of the first ten years of the Valdai Club’s operation? What are its main achievements?
I have visited many countries and I still think that the Valdai Club is a unique platform for communication, for exchanging opinions between international experts and national leaders. Over the past ten years we have got to know each other very well. We have discussed very many issues, which is very important for understanding developments in Russia and on the international stage.
This unique platform must certainly be developed. This would benefit both Russia and also Chinese and other experts.
What do you expect from the Club’s tenth summit? Will the main issue proposed for discussion lead to a better understanding of Russia?
It is very important for foreigners to understand the situation in Russia clearly. I believe that we have managed to achieve this at the Valdai Club. We not only receive the latest information about Russia, but also meet with its leaders, including President Vladimir Putin. This platform offers a very good opportunity for the Chinese and other nations to get a better and more profound understanding of the situation in Russia and possible future developments.
I believe that identity is an issue for both Russia and China. Two months ago we held a very good seminar on this issue. We compared the issue of identity as it is addressed in Russia and China. I believe that the development of social identity is a very difficult process, which is exactly why Russia and China could work closer together in this area.
Do you see a way to solve regional and ethnic problems in both countries?
The Chinese and Russians should spend more time working hard on antiterrorism. It is a very important issue. The Russians and the Chinese should also cooperate on issues of international relations more closely. Terrorism has very strong external sources and influence.
Should the West contribute to the development of a Russian pro-liberal identity if the Russian leadership views such efforts as infringement on its sovereignty and these efforts only enhance conservative anti-Western rhetoric?
This is also an important issue for China. But the West is not a unique entity, and besides, the West does not always understand the processes that have taken place or are currently underway in Russia and China. We respect the Westerners who are trying to understand Russian and Chinese realities and to develop cooperation with us. We meet together in order to share objective information. However, we also need to know the sources from which the West receives different information and assessments. This will take detailed scientific analysis.
Has the Valdai Club influenced the Kremlin’s policymaking in any way over the past 10 years? Do you think that the Russian political leadership is ready to listen to experts, including foreign ones?
The progress which the Valdai Club has made is evidence of its importance not only for experts but also national leaders. It offers a very good opportunity to address our questions to the presidents and other Russian leaders openly and directly in a relaxed atmosphere. When I asked my first question about the SCO and relations between Russia and China, the Russian President seemed to answer it very openly. Last time, when I asked about the new economic situation in Asia, the President’s answer showed that he understands the issue very well. I think President Putin had a clear view of the foreign experts’ assessment of the situation, which is also very beneficial for us.
Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.