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Global Governance
A New Round of Global Competition Proves Necessity of Russia’s “Pivot” to the East

Globally, we are witnessing four trends. First, through the diplomatic intercession of the United States, the United Arab Emirates has established diplomatic relations with Israel, Serbia and Kosovo have agreed upon economic cooperation, and under heavy American pressure, Germany has become tougher in its approach to the alleged poisoning of the Russian opposition leader and the crisis in Belarus, even indicating the possibility that it may abandon the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. All these show that the United States has launched a comprehensive offensive in some key areas of Eurasia. This is intended not only to influence the results of US elections, but also to drive a wedge into a possible rapprochement between China, Russia and Europe. This trend suggests that its marine geopolitics are intended to tear apart cooperation within the landmass, while actors in Eurasia are attempting to pursue cooperation. The confrontation between these two types of geopolitics is further intensifying.

Second, just as Putin pointed out at the SCO Foreign Ministers’ meeting, Eurasia is facing security risks. In addition to multilateral organisations such as the European Union and the Eurasian Economic Union facing threats of division, the SCO and RCEP are encountering difficulties. Conflicts in areas neighbouring China and Russia are also being stirred up. The Indo-Pacific Union, based on the so-called “liberal world”, is accelerating its construction. Only China-Russia cooperation remains robust. This phenomenon alone is worth pondering. Amid a wave of chaos which has challenged almost all multilateral organisations and major countries, how could China and Russia remain pillars of stability?

Third, although the US has launched a new round of global offensives, the reversal of its decline in the medium and long-term remains a difficult task. The division between the two parties, which has broadened to encompass ethnic groups and ideologies in the country, has profoundly hindered its hegemonic strategy. Trump’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as revealed in journalist Bob Woodward’s forthcoming book, is bound to seriously damage its prestige. In particular, the US dollar will decline, and economic weakness amid the downturn of the US dollar will continue, while the emerging market environment will be relatively stable; the panic outflow of capital will stop. The exchange rates of non-reserve currencies will be relatively stable, and the gradual recovery of the Asian economy will push commodity prices up. Although the ruble has fluctuated temporarily due to threats of another round of sanctions, judging from the long-term trajectory of the Asian economy, Russia’s “pivot” to the East remains a wise choice.

Fourth, a series of changes have taken place in Russia in the first half of 2020, indicating its future orientation. First, following a constitutional amendment, the construction of a “long-lasting state” has entered the implementation phase. Second, the long-term goal of the Russian economy in the July Decree is pragmatic, open and creative. Third, the Sino-US relationship continues to deteriorate, but Putin’s clear stance of insisting on Sino-Russian cooperation and never being a tool for the US to suppress China has won the respect and appreciation of both the Chinese people and the international community.
Global China and the Fears of its Neighbours
Anton Bespalov
“Hide your strength, bide your time,” Deng Xiaoping used to say. In recent years, China has become increasingly vocal on the world stage. Has its historical moment come? Many observers believe that by means of its Belt and Road Initiative China is remaking Eurasia to serve its goals. Valdai Club experts explain whether this is true and if China’s interests can be aligned with those of its neighbours.

Russia’s “pivot” to the East is neither an expedient measure limited to economic consideration, nor is it aimed at confronting “the other”. Russia, as the largest country in the world at the junction of Eastern and Western civilisations, could provide experience in addressing the disorder or “semi-order” emerging from the transformation of the global paradigm. 

Since the Ukraine Crisis, the Russian elites have begun to put forward the idea of building a future order following the current crisis. Even since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia has explored the implementation of such a future order. Recently, scholars have proposed that Russia should become a guarantor of world peace, the free choices of all countries, a new non-alignment movement, and the Earth’s environment. Undoubtedly, China should be Russia’s faithful partner in pursuing such ideological principles.

There are many things worthy of the joint effort of China and Russia. First, 2021 will mark the 20th anniversary of the renewal of the Sino-Russian Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation and the 20th anniversary of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. The future of Sino-Russian cooperation is worth planning as well. Before planning, first, it is imperative to make an assessment of the existing cooperation to see whether it has been implemented, and what experiences and lessons are worth summing up. Second, we should deepen our mutual understanding and learning to take advantage of each other’s willingness to pursue development, rather than just sit together and sign several documents. Third, we need to greatly explore the ideological and historical meaning of China-Russia cooperation, explaining why the countries should pursue it to the people of China, Russia and the world. As early as in the late 17th century, in which theTreaty of Westphalia was signed in Europe, China and Russia, as two empires, signed a treaty which ensured peace and a good neighbourly relationship for nearly two centuries.
China and Russia have every reason to be good neighbours and partners in the long run.

In two months, the 3rd annual China International Import Expo (CIIE) will be held in Shanghai. My friends in Shanghai expect Russia to send a strong delegation to provide more first-class and high-quality products at the Expo so that people in Shanghai, China and around the world may see Russia’s economic development achievements with their own eyes. China and Russia have had a lot of inter-regional cooperation in the Far East and Northeast China, along the Volga River and even in the middle reaches of the Yangtze River. Nevertheless, in my opinion, it is more necessary for both countries to cooperate in more developed areas, such as the Yangtze River Delta and the most economically developed regions of Russia. This will surely effectively promote economic cooperation between our two countries. As far as I know, Shanghai entrepreneurs and local officials have a lot of ideas in this regard, and I hope there will be more exchanges during the Expo. Similarly, St. Petersburg is a favourite place for people from Shanghai. We sincerely hope that more people will have the chance to attend the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

2020 is the China-Russia “Year of Scientific and Technological Innovation”. Both sides are expecting a new level of scientific and technological cooperation. During the COVID-19 pandemic, I delivered a public speech, specifically referring to the fact that excellent Soviet scientific and technological experts helped China overcome polio in the early 1960s, when the Sino-Soviet relationship had already been in trouble. The audience was touched. There is indeed a lot that our two countries could accomplish through scientific and technological cooperation. First, it is necessary to strengthen the protection of intellectual property rights. Secondly, it is imperative to promote familiarity and the understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of each other’s science and technology. Thirdly, we need to learn how to turn scientific and technological achievements into products. I’ve noticed in recent years that more young people have appeared in both countries who are able to communicate clearly in both languages. They are expected to learn in more depth about the excellent scientific, technological and cultural achievements of our two countries.

The aforementioned predicament of relations between the US, China and Russia is an unavoidable reality. But I believe that we could still escape a bipolar Cold War, as the world is already highly diversified and quite multipolar. Not many people are really willing to become trapped in an ideological and military confrontation. The Chinese also hope to see the US-Russian relationship return to normal; even if only from the perspective of the need for a good neighbourly relationship between the United States and Russia, it is a very reasonable hope for the future.                   

Will China Succeed as a Global Leader?
Timofei Bordachev
In order to implement its ambitious development programme, China needs enormous resources. Making it so that access to these resources is accompanied by the receipt of relative benefits by all participants in the process is an exceptionally difficult task.
Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.