Think Tank
Non-Western Democracy and Western Neo-Colonialism
Valdai Discussion Club Conference Hall, Tsvetnoy Boulevard 16/1, Moscow, Russia
List of speakers

On September 30, the Valdai Club, the CITIC Foundation for Reform and Development Studies of China, as well as the All-China Association for the Study of Political Science and the All-China Association for the Study of Russia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia held a Russian-Chinese expert dialogue on democracy and economic modernisation.

Opening the discussion, Andrey Bystritskiy, Chairman of the Board of the Foundation for Development and Support of the Valdai Discussion Club, noted that the world is now radically changing. The centre of world development, strength and self-confidence is shifting; the former model of globalisation is losing its meaning. As a result, both Russia and China bear great responsibility.

Xia Baolong, Deputy Chairman of the 13th National Committee of the People’s Political Consultative Council of China, Chairman of the Chinese part of the Russian-Chinese Committee for Friendship, Peace and Development, emphasised in his speech the impossibility of a universal model of governance and a universal path of economic development. “True democracy is only a democracy that takes root in the soil of its country and reflects the will of its people,” he said, adding that China and Russia have managed to find their own specific forms of democratic politics.

Kong Dan, Chairman of the CITIC Foundation for Development and Research, and Li Shenming, President of the Chinese Association for Political Sciences, also spoke about the plurality of forms of democracy, the inadmissibility of Western diktat and the need to develop Russian-Chinese cooperation.

During the first session, dedicated to the issues of democracy construction, experts continued to discuss the problem of  universalist perception of democracy based on Western values and the possibility of its non-Western interpretations. Session moderator Zhang Shuhua, Director of the Institute of Political Science of the Academy of Social Sciences of the PRC, noted that the West is inclined to use democracy as an instrument of pressure, pursuing its own selfish goals under the guise of promoting it. This topic was supported and developed by Li Yongquan, Chairman of the All-China Association for the Study of Russia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and Vasily Kashin, Deputy Director of the Centre for Comprehensive European and International Studies at the Higher School of Economics. Wang Shaoguang, Professor of China University of Hong Kong, analysed in his speech various types and institutions of democracy, both historically and modern, Western and non-Western, focusing on the concept of Chinese people’s democracy. Oleg Barabanov, Programme Director of the Valdai Discussion Club, in turn outlined the Russian concept of democracy and noted that now is the right moment for China and Russia to offer the world an alternative to the Western-dominated understanding of democratic development.

The second session of the event, moderated by Yaroslav Lisovolik, Programme Director of the Valdai Discussion Club, was devoted to economic modernisation and the prospects for Sino-Russian economic and trade cooperation. Zhang Weiwei, Director of the China Institute at Fudan University, and Wang Shengsheng, Professor at Nankai University, discussed the problem of the relationship between the political system and economic development and the peculiarities of the Chinese version of economic development. Sergey Tsyplakov, Professor at the Department of International Relations, Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs, National Research University Higher School of Economics, spoke about specific areas of possible interaction between Russia and China. Alexander Losev, General Director of Sputnik Asset Management, called on Russia and China to develop a joint response to Western neo-colonialism and create their own rules of the game in the market for hydrocarbons, energy and energy-intensive industries, as well as to form joint institutions of global governance in order to intercept the West’s agenda.