The situation in Central Asia and areas of cooperation between Russia and China in that region were main topics of discussion at the 4th session, titled "The situational dynamics in the “shared neighborhood” countries around Russia and China."
Opening the session, Li Xin, Director of the Center for Russia and Central Asia Studies, Shanghai Institute of International Studies, said that Russia and China should strengthen cooperation in Central Asia in both security and economic sectors.
Andrey Kazantsev, Director of the Analytical Center of the Institute of International Studies, MGIMO University, pointed out that the two countries need to use collective opportunities in the economy and politics to ensure stability in the region. He also emphasized the inconsistency of US policy in Central Asia and noted a clear loss of interest in the region in Washington at the current transitional stage, connected with the election of a new president.
According to Pan Dawei, Director of the Center for Russia Studies, Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, the dynamics of the situation in the Central Asian countries is largely determined by relations within the China-Russia-US triangle. At the same time, the Russian-Chinese strategic partnership brings stability to the region, and the "One belt-one road" initiative was supported by many countries. On the other hand, according to the expert, the egocentric policy of the United States did not allow it, as the most powerful country in the world, to make a significant contribution to the regional stability. On the contrary, it led to a loss of confidence in the US from many countries.
Timofei Bordachev, Programme Director of the Valdai Discussion Club, Director of the Center for Comprehensive European and International Studies at the Higher School of Economics, noted that despite the global role of Russia and China, properly the "common neighborhood" is truly important for the two countries. Russia and China are making efforts to ensure that the Central Asian countries become a source of stability, not threats. He believes that the interests of Russia and China in the region do not contradict each other - neither in the field of energy, nor about issues related to labor flows or the security area. Moreover, Russia is interested in China's increasing presence in Central Asia, which will allow to jointly solve possible future problems. Nevertheless, the influence of radical preachers on young people makes Central Asia potentially dangerous, the expert said.
Sun Chandung, Deputy Director of the Institute for State Development of European and Asian Studies, Development Research Center of the State Council of China, also noted the high degree of influence that extremists have on youth in Central Asia. According to the expert, Russia and China should stand together in countering waves of extremism that can surge from the region in the next few years. To achieve this, the two countries must discuss counter-terrorist strategy and strengthen cooperation in countering terrorism. According to Kazantsev, such cooperation is possible under the auspices of the SCO, which has an anti-terrorist center.
Sun Chandung also discussed the situation on the Korean Peninsula. According to him, nuclear disarmament would be the ideal strategy, but the United States is not willing to take part in solving this problem. Georgy Toloraya, Executive Director of the Russian National Committee on BRICS Research and Director of the Center for Asian Strategy at the Institute of Economics, Russian Academy of Sciences expanded on this topic, noting that Russia and China are determined to advocate the peaceful resolution of the problem, which means including North Korea in the dialogue and securing peaceful coexistence on the peninsula. However, the US, Japan and South Korea consider the liquidation of the DPRK as a state and unification of the peninsula as the solution. Toloraya added that the North Korean nuclear problem can only be solved in a multilateral dialogue that includes various aspects of security and not just the issue of ending North Korea’s nuclear program.
Yang Cheng, Professor at the School of International Relations and Public Affairs, Shanghai International Studies University, called Russia and China partners that complement each other, but noted the existence of contradictions, which in his opinion is rather natural. He called for considering cooperation and competition as part of one whole. In conditions of a new world, new approaches and concepts of cooperation are necessary to further strengthen relations between the two counties, which would also allow them to solve problems in the shared neighborhood, the expert concluded.
Read summaries of all sessions of the Russian-Chinese conference
Session 3. Cybersecurity and the Cybersphere