April 4 marked the beginning of a two-day conference titled “China and Russia: Facing Challenges of Global Shifts,” held in Moscow by the Valdai Discussion Club in cooperation with the Center for Russian Studies at the East China Normal University. Participants of the first session discussed the opportunities that the transformation of the global political and economic order have created for Russia and China.
The conference was opened with a welcoming address by Andrey Bystritskiy, Chairman of the Board of the Foundation for Development and Support of the Valdai Discussion Club. He stressed the importance of the Russian-Chinese dialogue to discuss world problems, because the agenda of the event goes beyond the bilateral relations. Feng Shaolei, Director of the Center for Russian Studies, East China Normal University, highly appreciated the prospects of high-level cooperation between Russia and China. He expressed conviction that it was necessary to create conditions for the consistent strengthening of bilateral relations.
Dmitry Mezentsev, Member of the Council of the Federation of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, Secretary-General of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (2013-2015), Chairman of the Russia-China Friendship Association, drew attention to the need for cooperation in fighting against terrorism. He recalled the 2001 Shanghai Convention on Combating Terrorism, Separatism and Extremism, which provisions are extremely relevant today. Mezentsev stressed, that in the post-Western world other principles of the world order will be formed.
Fu Ying, Chairperson, Foreign Affairs Committee of the National People`s Congress of the People`s Republic of China, in a special video message to the participants of the conference drew attention to new challenges that the world community faced after the Cold War. In her opinion, today everywhere there are trends of anti-globalization. Although the economic globalization contributed to the growth of well-being, the issue of capital management and control has not been resolved. Fu Ying believes that the global Westernization, imposed by the United States and Europe, resulted in a number of negative processes. At the same time, successful cooperation between Russia and China contributes to the development of security and prosperity not only in the region, but also in the entire world community.
The first session, titled "The transformation of the political and economic world around us: Opportunities and threats for China and Russia," was moderated by Fyodor Lukyanov, Research Director of the Valdai Discussion Club.
Sergey Karaganov, Dean of the School of International Economics and Foreign Affairs, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Honorary Chairman of the Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, began his speech with the idea that for the first time in relations between Russia and China global problems are on the table, and not exclusively the bilateral issues. And this shows the rapidly growing roles of both states in the world arena. Karaganov identified several trends. First, the processes of post-globalization that are gaining momentum are accompanied by the militarization of international economic relations. The driving force of this process, according to Karaganov, is the United States, which began to pursue such a policy under Barack Obama. Second, there is a gradual weakening of international strategic stability, and the world in fact is in the pre-war state. Karaganov believes that the failed global world à la America means the need for Russia and China to create an alternative center of power. Finally, he stressed the indispensability to regulate international strategic stability together with the US, because Russia 20 years later regained the status of the victorious power.
According to Sheng Shiliang, Chief Research Fellow at the World Affairs Research Center of Xinhua News Agency, the presidency of Donald Trump marked a new stage in Russian-Chinese relations. The American president’s change of rhetoric should not negatively impact strengthening Russian-Chinese relations. According to Sheng, the only true response to Trump is a deepening and substantiation of bilateral strategic and partner relations between Russia and China. According to him, only through standing side by side will Moscow and Beijing be able to handle external challenges and preserve stability on their borders. Sheng suggested paying more attention to issues regarding energy, space exploration and aerospace technology. He also noted the potential of export of grain and water from Russia to China.
Sergey Luzyanin, Director of the Institute of Far Eastern Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, noted the atmosphere of apprehension and instability in international relations and noted several aspects that should be considered in Russian-Chinese dialogue. Among them is the lack of readiness and desire by China to contain the US, which, however, can still happen in case of a partnership between Russia and China. The renewal of Russian-Chinese relations under the One Belt, One Road program may become an alternative to the traditional G20 meetings. Luzyanin also noted Vladimir Putin’s 2016 initiative of creation a broad Eurasian partnership and the leading role of Russia and China in Eurasian Economic Union and Shanghai Cooperation Organization integration processes.
Feng Shaolei, Director of the Center for Russian Studies at East China Normal University agreed that uncertainty in international relations is growing and noted that it is important to look at the historical origins of this tendency. Historical development has moved the world toward the necessity of diversity for hundreds of years. Feng talked about the creation of the Westphalian system, which secured such aspirations. The multipolar system continued to be seen, for example, in the Yalta system. He noted the inequity of the unipolar Western-led system that has been created in recent years. According to Feng, it is this system that led to a gap in the economic wellbeing of countries and regions. Considering the necessity of cooperation between Russia and China, it must be done with considerations of principles of liberty, security and cooperation, and should not be built to counter a third party. According to Feng, Russian-Chinese relations should exist in the format of cooperation, not a union. This idea was repeated in the statements of many Chinese participants.
Read summaries of all sessions of the Russian-Chinese conference
Session 3. Cybersecurity and the Cybersphere