Author: Sheng Tang Rusong source: wechat official account: shopkeeper’s Dao has been authorized for reprinting
On September 7, the Russian hosted Oriental Economic Forum was held in Vladivostok as scheduled. The Eastern Economic Forum held by Russia aims to expand the economic and trade development of the Far East and attract international capital to invest in the Russian Far East. This idea was an attempt by Putin to look at it from both sides, and it was also a record.
In 2014, after Russia won Crimea, it was first kicked out of the Western partner circle by the G7, and then subjected to strong sanctions from Europe and the United States. Under such circumstances, Vladimir Putin began to seriously consider looking east [that year later, Türkiye also began its journey of looking from both sides]. Before, Russia looked eastward and maintained a high-level strategic partnership with China, mainly for two reasons.
One is that after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia’s economy is indeed very poor. If it is not for the soaring oil price, even if Putin improves the domestic oligarchic economic pattern, it is difficult to make a qualitative improvement in Russia’s economy. At that time, in fact, what needed Russia most was not Europe and the United States, but China. China, which was developing happily, had a great demand for Russia’s resources, technology and security capabilities. But in addition to Russian resources, the west is not interested in Russian technology. What they are interested in is how to destroy Russia’s technology and security capabilities. So from the perspective of cooperation, China was a very good choice for Russia at that time.
The other is that after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia’s most desired goal is actually to integrate into Europe. Although it desperately opposes its neighboring countries joining NATO and the European Union, it is eager to become a member of these two organizations. But NATO is designated not to want it unless it abandons its military skills again and completely denuclearizes. But then, fools also know that Russia will eventually be divided by Europe and the United States. [in the western world, a country with huge resources and no ability to protect itself has always been the fat meat in the mouth of other countries] as for the EU, the same conditions apply. If you want to join, you must abide by the EU’s’ rules’. This rule can only be determined by the European Union, and Russia only needs to implement it, so Russia can not enter.
However, Europe is indeed Russia’s largest trading partner. Whether it is energy or industrial products, the trade relationship between Russia and Europe is certainly stronger than that between China and Russia. However, Russia is in a weak position in various games with Europe and the United States, and there are not many chips available to it. His relationship with China is one of his biggest chips in the game between Europe and the United States. The reason for this is that Russia still has two big chips, one is nuclear weapons and the other is energy. Among these three chips, nuclear weapons [security capabilities] make Europe and the United States afraid, energy makes Europe and the United States salivate, and China makes the attitudes of Europe and the United States contradictory, which belongs to the contradiction of love and hate. Therefore, at the beginning of Russia’s approach to China, a large part of the factor was that it wanted to use China as a bargaining chip to balance the trade game with Europe and the security game with the United States.
Of course, this is not the case in China. No matter which country puts its own interests first, it is no problem. Therefore, we can only say that China Russia relations have entered a new stage after 2014, not a change in relations. The essence of a relationship will never change, but the development of a relationship can go from one stage to another. This is true of the country, society and individuals alike. Otherwise, either you can’t integrate into this society, or you will fall into the abyss of society.
After 2014, Europe and the United States began to completely tear their faces and say to Russia: it is impossible for countries like you to become friends with us, and lifted an unprecedented stick of sanctions against Russia. At this time, Putin began to seriously consider whether he should look East and prepare a solid way for himself, instead of the previous game methods. So in 2015, the first Oriental Economic Forum was held.
The original intention of this forum was not simply to develop relations with China. It is a real tool for Russia to look East, and it also has great hope for South Korea and Japan. Even if Russia is ready to develop the Far East, it hopes that the more countries that invest in this region, the better, the stronger, and the better. It is best to form a situation of competition among China, Japan and South Korea. Japan and South Korea obviously also saw Russia’s intention, so in previous sessions, Japan and South Korea attended the Oriental Economic Forum with the highest standard. Shinzo Abe, park Geun hye and Moon Jae-in have all participated in the conference several times. However, the Japanese still want to talk more. Shinzo Abe believes that he can take this opportunity to talk with Putin about the ownership of the four northern islands. So he trotted and bowed to Putin, but he still didn’t get anything. Putin hoped that Japan and South Korea would help him develop the Far East, not give land to Japan. The Japanese can never change the problem of being able to reach Longwang Shu. So it is conceivable that we will end up empty handed.
It is also because of the participation of China, Japan, South Korea and other countries in the Eastern Economic Forum over the years, as well as some project cooperation in the Far East reached through this platform. Today’s Russia has more confidence in the face of pressure from Europe and the United States. Looking east, Russia is no longer a simple game tool, but a pragmatic choice for Russia. It is reported that 166 cooperation agreements were reached during the two-day forum, with a project amount of 1529.8 billion rubles [174.6 billion yuan], of which more than 250 billion rubles [29.3 billion yuan] are secret related cooperation. If this amount is calculated in rubles alone, it is less than half of the previous forum. Where is the lack of funds for these projects? In fact, we can tell by looking at the participating countries. This time, China, Myanmar, Mongolia, Armenia and other countries directly sent high-level officials to the conference, and Vietnam, Malaysia, India and other countries participated in the conference through high-level video. [one more word here. We did not find Indonesia in the list of high-level participants [including video participants]. This means that Putin may not participate in the G20 summit held in Indonesia this year. If you think about it further, how will China participate in the summit? I’m afraid there will be a lot of highlights at this G20 summit.] So we found that Japan and South Korea did not send high-level government officials to the meeting this time, and even the government did not participate. Only relevant business people from Japan and South Korea participated in this forum. After all, the development of the Far East concerns the vital interests of Japan and South Korea in the future. The participation of business people can at least ensure that they will not be completely abandoned in this development circle in the future.
But who but Japan and South Korea can take the lead in the development of the Far East? Of course, there is only China, so I’m afraid that 90% of the cooperation projects of more than 1.5 trillion rubles are invested by China. Of course, we can clearly see from the relevant reports in Russia that China has indeed sent the largest delegation this time.
If it is said that the 2015 Oriental Economic Forum is a retreat for Russia, then from this year, Russia has really set foot on this road. Since Europe and the United States are going to kill Russia even if they kill themselves, Russia has to work hard to cut off from Europe. Although the final cutting will never be so clean, [because in this winter, some European countries will definitely think of Russia’s good, thus offsetting some of the contradictions between Russia and Europe and the United States.] However, since the steps of looking east have been taken, this road will go on anyway.
Of course, what Putin wants is not only to look eastward at Russia’s economic and trade projects, but also to use his eastward view to challenge the hegemony of Western rules. Today’s Putin will condemn the rule hegemony of the West and expose the ugly truth of European and American values on any public occasion. Of course, this forum is no exception.
He said that “international law has been suppressed all the time, and now many people are saying that Russia has violated international law. I think this is totally untrue. Who launched the Iraq war without joint approval? Who destroyed Yugoslavia? Who launched the war in the center of Europe to bomb Belgrade? At that time, no one thought of the principles of international law.”
He also said, “therefore, it is necessary to start talking about those rules that are fabricated out of thin air. What are these rules, what have they come up with? Where did they pick them up? Let them abide by them.”
This is not only a challenge to Western rules, but also a challenge to western hegemony. In fact, Putin has no choice but to retreat, and his only way is to win. It was not the victory of the Russian Ukrainian war, but the victory of the challenge to western hegemony. Because even if Ukraine finally admits defeat, Europe and the United States can still “convict” Putin from above. Only by pushing Europe and the United States to the stage where they stand, can Europe and the United States not convict themselves, but they can bring Europe and the United States back to their original shape.
However, Putin can not do this kind of thing by Russia alone. He can only do this by uniting more countries. The West has no way out, and the East is the best choice. What’s more, in the East, there is a country with similar aspirations and strength waiting for his hand of unity.