A World of New Opportunities: Toward a Future Global Configuration

Few words about the Valdai Club Russian-Chinese Conference

It is believed that the world is in a state of crisis, and that this crisis is dangerous. However, every crisis is simultaneously a window of opportunities. A wise use of crisis involves accelerated development, more efficient use of resources, focusing efforts on new and most promising areas of growth.

The joint Russian-Chinese conference, titled “China and Russia: Facing Challenges of Global Shifts”, organized by the Valdai Discussion Club in cooperation with the Center for Russian Studies at the East China Normal University, is devoted to the development and strategy. Not only and not so much to the development of the Russian-Chinese relations as such, but also to the global dynamics in general.

The link between Russian-Chinese relations and world relations is not only caused by the fact that our countries play an important role in the world arena, but also that in the present multi-polar world with an ever-increasing number of "poles", any bilateral relations acquire a global value, become elements of the overall world construction.

In the rapidly vanishing bipolar world, when the US and the USSR with blocs behind them confronted each other, the relations between any other actors of world politics, as a rule, were embed into the already existing configuration. A dispute, for example, between India and Pakistan could lead to a catastrophe, but in any way it was included into the then existing world matrix and was largely regulated by this matrix, that is, by the global world confrontation, by the system of axes, determined by the competition between "socialism" and "capitalism" .

In some sense, the actors involved in various bilateral relations, as, for example, mentioned India and Pakistan, could have great difficulties in interacting with each other, but the system in which their dispute was developed was more or less clear to them. It was known in which coordinates they acted, how it was possible to influence the then existing basic elements of the world matrix: the so-called capitalist world and the so-called countries of socialist orientation, or, more simply, the United States and the USSR.

But this world has disappeared. Many by habit are trying to view the world within through the glasses of previous confrontation. Now suddenly many have decided that Russia is something like the USSR, and NATO, led by the US, somehow must resist it. But most likely this is an illusion. Russia is not the USSR. NATO today is not something of NATO 25 years ago and even the United States has radically changed.

There is no old world. Everything is in motion.

Today we are at the beginning of the process of a new world, a new global matrix, if you’d like, or a radical reconfiguration of the world system.

Presently, we barely understand what this new global matrix will look like. This is not only because we lack the intellectual capability, but also because we are ourselves part of the creation of this new matrix.

It is the man-made character of the human world that creates the main complexity: the necessity of simultaneous creation and analysis. And often the same people solve both sub-problems.

In her time, Margaret Mead defined what she called prefigurative culture, one in which parents learn from their children, just as children learn from their parents. As a result, development becomes planned, in a sense, without losing its creative character.

In conditions of global uncertainty, a clear mind and a maximum possible openness is needed to impartially analyze what is going on. This is why today there is more interest in ideas from political science, dialogues and meetings. They discuss the future and what will define it.

For example, the future of global trade and regulation is in many ways in the hands of Russia and China, and of course, not only in their hands. The solution of global equalization in many ways depends on the organization of the Eurasian space.

Today there are many speculations regarding the US’ future policy, how negative it will be toward China or Russia, Western Europe or Latin America. However, it appears that the task is not only to guess what the US will do, as much as it is in formulating and describing the parameters of the future in which everyone, including the US, will be comfortable. No doubt, this is not an easy task. However, the global situation is so complicated, so overloaded with various factors, that without the daring efforts of the global intellectual community, it will not be solved.