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V. Ogryzko *: Introductory Address at the Conference "Russia and China: Current State and Development Prospects", 8 December, 2017.


Articles

Russia-China relations are important themselves, but they have not only a bilateral dimension. This is an important element of the future geopolitical landscape, which is already seen with objective inevitability.

While talking about the bilateral aspect of these relations, in my opinion, the thought of the famous Russian political scientist Stanislav Belkovsky is interesting:

"... China will definitely absorb Siberia and the Far East, but informally. There will be no annexation or occupation. Just at some point, a Russian man in the city of Khabarovsk would find out that seven Chinese fall on him alone. I think it will happen in 10-12 years. Today one and a half Chinese fall on one Russian … ".

Mr. S. Belkovsky made such a forecast only recently - on 3 November, 2017 [1]

Another Russian expert, a well-known political scientist and publicist Andrey Piontkovsky, writes about something similar:

         "... The new post-Crimean understanding of the blurriness and the conditionality of state borders fully applies also to the borders of the Russian Federation itself. And if we recall the sophisticated concept of our national leader as for defence, including by military means, of citizens with Russian passports or even more widely - people who feel themselves culturally belonging to the great "Russian world", wherever they live, then, as a whole, a solid legal basis has been laid for the future annexation of the Russian Far East and Siberia. Polite yellow men will not even have to hand out passports to anyone.

The rulers of the Celestial Empire no longer consider it necessary to conceal this spirit stiffening perspective from their younger strategic partners. Comrade Li Yuanchao, speaking from the rostrum of the St. Petersburg forum on 24 May, 2014, addressing directly to the Russian national leader, said, in fact, the following: "All your land is large and rich, yet there is no order in it. The hard-working Chinese will come and establish their Order of the Heaven."

The impudent suggestion of the second person of the People's Republic of China was not accidental, but, vice versa, deeply thought out. People who are close to Russian-Chinese official talks, have been in one voice repeating recently, that the Chinese are less and less burdening themselves with the need to pretend and feign something. They treat the Russian kleptocrats, fawning upon them, with an undisguised contempt and are no longer ashamed to express this feeling publicly ... "[2].

Some statistics seem interesting in this respect. Here are some figures:

The population of the Far East Federal District is 6.3 million people, which is 20% lower than at the end of the Soviet period. At the same time, the Far East occupies 36% of the total area of the country, while the population of this region is only 4.4% of the total population of Russia (142 million people). By 2025, according to the UN Population Report, the number of locals will have been reduced to 4.7 million. At the same time, about 40 million people live on the other side of the border, in Heilongjiang Province, among which men prevail.

"Today, we are closest to our goal of the revival of the Chinese nation than ever before in history, and we need to build the strongest ever army," the leader of the People’s Republic of China said. For reference: as of today the People’s Libration Army of China is 2 million persons strong [3].

The strengthening of China will undoubtedly trigger the reaction of the main global player - the United States.

Here is what we may read in the factful material "United States - China Relations: A Complex Balance of Cooperation and Confrontation" prepared by the Political Directorate of the European Parliament:

"China’s rise is a real game-changer both economically and geopolitically, and represents both an opportunity and a challenge for the major global power, namely the United States. China’s new economic and political weight fosters further cooperation with the US on a number of global issues, as well as increased collaboration within multilateral organisations. Given their sheer influence, both countries have global interests that make it difficult to find a solution for one without the consent of the other.

China’s rise and expanding global interests have resulted in a drastic change in the global geopolitical order. Frustrations over the US’s predominance, especially in Asia, have raised tensions between the two powers. Under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, China has adopted a more assertive approach towards multilateral organisations which it sees as controlled by and for Western powers, but also towards its direct neighbours. This approach represents a direct challenge to the world order established and sustained by the US and is therefore a potential reason for conflict."[4].

Immediately the question arises: will the USA allow the strengthening of China in this case at the expense of eastern Russia. And if so, then to what extent. Although, in fact, there are dozens of such issues, those having both domestic and global character, which I have just mentioned.

I am confident that we are unlikely to be able to answer all of them, but we should try to understand at least trends.

Our moderators and experts will help us with this.

I wish you all fruitful discussion.

 

References:

  1.  Белковский: Если Собчак станет президентом, Крым остается в составе России // Гордон. 3 November, 2017  http://gordonua.com/publications/belkovskiy-jesli-sobchak-stanet-prezidentom-krym-ostaetsia-v-sostave-rossii-214241.html
  2. Піонтковський А. Шлях до російської катастрофи // Новое время. 31.08.17. http://nv.ua/ukr/opinion/piontkovskiy/shljah-do-rosijskoji-katastrofi-1763901.html
  3. На военном параде в Китае показали новейшую технику // РИА новости. 30.07.2017.  https://ria.ru/world/20170730/1499413754.html
  4. Bendini R. United States - China relations: a complex balance between cooperation and confrontation // European Parliament. http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/IDAN/2016/570464/EXPO_IDA%282016%29570464_EN.pdf

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*Information about the author:

Volodymyr Ogryzko - Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine (2007-2009), Head of the Centre for Russian Studies.

 The article is prepared on the basis of an address at the International Conference "Russia and China: Current State and Development Prospects".

24.01.2018 22:00:00