THE GROWING ROLE OF THE ASIA PACIFIC REGION
by Vladimir Putin
One of our country’s neighbors is China, a major hub of the global economy. It has become fashionable to opine about that country’s future role in the global economy and international affairs. Last year China moved into second place in the world in terms of GDP and it is poised to surpass the U.S. on that count, according to international – including American – experts. The overall might of the People’s Republic of China is growing, and that includes the ability to project power in various regions.
First of all, I am convinced that China’s economic growth is by no means a threat, but a challenge that carries colossal potential for business cooperation – a chance to catch the Chinese wind in the sails of our economy. We should seek to more actively form new cooperative ties, combining the technological and productive capabilities of our two countries and tapping China’s potential – judiciously, of course – in order to develop the economy of Siberia and the Russian Far East.
Second, China’s conduct on the world stage gives no grounds to talk about its aspirations to dominance. The Chinese voice in the world is indeed growing ever more confident, and we welcome that, because Beijing shares our vision of the emerging equitable world order. We will continue to support each other in the international arena, to work together to solve acute regional and global problems, and to promote cooperation within the UN Security Council, BRICS, the SCO, the G20 and other multilateral forums.
And third, we have settled all the major political issues in our relations with China, including the critical border issue. Our nations have created a solid mechanism of bilateral ties, reinforced by legally binding documents. There is an unprecedentedly high level of trust between the leaders of our two countries. This enables us and the Chinese to act in the spirit of genuine partnership, rooted in pragmatism and respect for each other’s interests. The model of Russian-Chinese relations we have created has good prospects.
Of course, this is not to suggest that our relationship with China is problem-free. There are some sources of friction. Our commercial interests in third parties by no means always coincide, and we are not entirely satisfied with the emerging trade structure and the low level of mutual investments. We will also closely monitor immigration from the People’s Republic of China.
But my main premise is that Russia needs a prosperous and stable China, and I am convinced that China needs a strong and successful Russia.
Another rapidly growing Asian giant is India. Russia has traditionally enjoyed friendly relations with India, which the leaders of our two countries have classified as a privileged strategic partnership. Not only our countries but the entire multipolar system that is emerging in the world stands to gain from this partnership.
We see before our eyes not only the rise of China and India, but the growing weight of the entire Asia-Pacific Region. This has opened up new horizons for fruitful work within the framework of the Russian chairmanship of APEC. In September of this year we will host a meeting of its leaders in Vladivostok. We are actively preparing for it, creating modern infrastructure that will promote the further development of Siberia and the Russian Far East and enable our country to become more involved in the dynamic integration processes in the “new Asia.”
We will continue to prioritize our cooperation with our BRICS partners. That unique structure, created in 2006, is a striking symbol of the transition from a unipolar world to a more just world order. BRICS brings together five countries with a population of almost three billion people, the largest emerging economies, colossal labor and natural resources and huge domestic markets. With the addition of South Africa, BRICS acquired a truly global format, and it now accounts for more than 25% of world GDP.
We are still getting used to working together in this format. In particular, we have to coordinate better on foreign policy matters and work together more closely at the UN. But when BRICS is really up and running, its impact on the world economy and politics will be considerable.
In recent years, cooperation with the countries of Asia, Latin America and Africa has become a growing focus of Russian diplomacy and of our business community. In these regions there is still sincere goodwill toward Russia. One of the key tasks for the coming period, in my view, is cultivating trade and economic cooperation as well as joint projects in the fields of energy, infrastructure, investment, science and technology, banking and tourism.
The growing role of Asia, Latin America and Africa in the emerging democratic system of managing the global economy and global finance is reflected in the work of the G20. I believe that this association will soon become a strategically important tool not only for responding to crises, but for the long-term reform of the world’s financial and economic architecture. Russia will chair the G20 in 2013, and we must use this opportunity to better coordinate the work of the G20 and other multilateral structures, above all the G8 and, of course, the UN.
Next: The Europe Factor
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