Russian Expert: Our World Needs more Initiatives and Projects Like BRI
If Russia and China can cooperate on BRI or combine the Belt and Road Initiative and Russian Eurasian Economic Union initiative, it will be better for Russia, for our people and for the world.
2019 marks the 70th anniversary not only for the founding of the People’s Republic of China but also the year to celebrate the establishment of Sino-Russia relations over the past 70 years. In this specific timing, China Focus interviewed Boris Guseletov, Senior Fellow, The Institute of Europe, Russian Academy of Science to share his view about current events including the very first meeting between President Putin and DPRK’s top leader Kim Jong-un, how he sees China’s contribution to the world, if the up-coming joint military exercise between China and Russia is a threat to the western world.
China Focus：What’s your take on the Belt and Road Initiative’s contribution to globalization?
Boris Guseletov: From my point of view, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is very important globally because currently our world is in a very complicated situation. Between the main political actors, the United States, European Union, China and Russia, their relationships are not very good. There is a lot of conflict between these actors economically and politically. There are also sanctions between some of these actors, so, it’s very difficult.
For this reason, the Belt and Road Initiative, this very peaceful, non-military, economic and humanitarian initiative, is very important because I think our world needs more initiatives and projects like this. We need to unite people who don’t want to be involved in military conflict, humanitarian conflict, economic conflict. We need a world without sanctions and we need a peaceful world.
I totally support BRI and I think that if more countries, more people and more organizations were involved in it then it would be even better for our world.
China Focus：Do you think the Belt and Road Initiative brings countries and people together for cooperation?
Boris Guseletov: Yes, I do. I was participating in the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing at a very interesting forum of non-government organizations (NGO’s). I think this is a very good side of the initiative because it is not only economic but it’s also humanitarian and helps unite people.
I think that if more NGO’s, academic or educational organizations were involved in this initiative, then it would be better because I think that this initiative is very important for the younger generation. We should explain to Russian students, Russia’s young people, Chinese, Kazakhstanis, Kyrgyz’s, Uzbekistanis, and others the main goals of this initiative and explain what the benefits are for their countries and for themselves.
China Focus：How has central Asia benefited from the Belt and Road Initiative and how have China and Russia helped these countries?
Boris Guseletov: I think that central Asia is currently in a difficult situation because many of the countries in this region are very poor, for example, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kurdistan. These countries need economic help from the main actors in the region –Russia and China.
The Belt and Road Initiative and Russia’s Eurasian Economic Union initiative should help these countries to develop. Many people in these countries are very poor and the governments of these countries are trying to help their people but they don’t have the finances. The Chinese and Russian initiatives should help these countries to develop in the right way.
China Focus：What is your take on China’s contribution to global governance?
Boris Guseletov: This is a very complicated issue, because as I said, the world is currently in a difficult situation. After the Second World War, we had a bi-polar-world, with two big actors –the Soviet Union and its supporters, and the United States. This kind of world system collapsed after the Soviet Union disappeared.
After that, we had a hegemonic system, with the United States as the main actor. But from my point of view and the view of many academicians, this type of world system has also finished. Now, it is a multi-polar system. China, of course, should be one of the poles of this new system and we have seen that since President Xi Jinping became the leader of this country, China has been more active in all fields and tried to play a more active role economically and politically.
But I think that China needs time to become a real political actor in this field. I hope China is a gift to the world and that the new systems of cooperation like Belt and Road, will be more peaceful, and more humanitarian. I think that during the next five to ten years, China will become one of the poles of this new world system, together with United States, the European Union, Russia and maybe some other countries. And I hope that this new world system will be more stable, more peaceful, and help people develop more.
China Focus：You mentioned that this year is the 70th anniversary of Sino-Russia relations. How would you evaluate China and Russia’s relationship over the past seventy years and how will their relationship develop in the future?
Boris Guseletov: I think Russia and China’s relationship, which is celebrating seventy years of diplomatic relations this year, has gone through different periods since the end of the Second World War. In the beginning, we had very good relations and supported China economically but then it cooled during Khrushchev’s leadership, until the Soviet Union collapsed.
Now, we are experiencing a new period of good relations which are very peaceful and very friendly. We have a good relationship economically, politically but there are some problems. Firstly, the economic situation in Russia is not good. If you compare Russia and China, China is now the stronger economic actor. Russia has good opportunities for cooperation with China politically and militarily, but they should develop their economic relations to create a balance between the two countries.
I think this relationship should develop in a positive way. If Russia and China can cooperate on BRI or combine the Belt and Road Initiative and Russian Eurasian Economic Union initiative, it will be better for Russia, for our people and for the world.
Many international academicians think that the world is going to become a multipolar system and Russia and China should play a very important role in this new system. We have different cultures, we have different economic levels and political levels, but Russia and China share the same approach to developing a peaceful world without sanctions and conflict. For this reason, I think our cooperation is very important.
I think that the Belt and Road which combines and unites China, countries of central Asia, the Far East, Europe and Russia, is very important because this kind of initiative unites these countries and helps them to develop in a more peaceful way against an American approach, which is based on conflict, sanctions and war.
I don’t agree with the way in which American president Donald Trump has behaved over the last two years. We need more peaceful and friendlier relations between countries and between people. I think and I hope that Russia and China go together on this road and involve more and more countries in this process.
China Focus：This year also marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. How would you evaluate China’s development over the past seventy years?
Boris Guseletov: I think that China has gone through different periods of development during these seventy years. If you remember the time of the Second World War, China was not so strong economically.
But now China is one of the two biggest global economic players in the world. And since President Xi Jinping became leader of this country, they have tried to play a more active role in world politics and humanitarianism. I think that China should continue moving forward on this road of not only developing its economy but also being more involved in international relations, in world politics, working with other countries in humanitarianism to help poor countries develop; such as countries in Africa, the Far East and in Asia.
China Focus: What is your expectation for China’s future? Could you give us a celebratory message for China?
Boris Guseletov: I believe that China’s development in the near future will be very good.
I see that China’s new leadership has tried to keep on the one hand, the old traditions of Chinese politics and culture, whilst on the other hand, give a chance to make China more modern and give China a chance to be one of the two best economic players in the world. For this reason, I wish the Chinese people to keep this destination, to be more open, to be more active in the international field and to help other countries develop. And I think that China will do better.
China Focus: President Vladimir Putin met with the DPRK top leader Kim Jong-un on April 25. How do you evaluate the result of their meeting?
Boris Guseletov: I know it was the first big meeting between the leader of DPRK and Russia, but it’s very complicated to evaluate the result of this meeting because they just generally discussed the future cooperation between each other.
Of course, they will have discussed the possibility of denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, but we should wait for the result of this discussion. It was just a discussion because currently the leader of DPRK, Kim Jong-un, has multiple political international policies. He has had discussions with Trump, he has good relations with China and now he would like to establish contact with Russia.
I think that this first meeting between Putin and Kim Jong-un is just the first step in doing this. And we need a peaceful situation in the Korean peninsula.
Of course, Russia is trying to play a more active role in this field. But DPRK is a very complicated country and the leaders of this country are rather different. For this reason, I cannot give you my exact position about the real result of this meeting but I hope the result will be good.
China Focus: What do you think of the joint military exercise (Joint Sea 2019) from April 29 to May 4 by China and Russia?
Boris Guseletov: I think in terms of the military, China and Russia have very good relations. Russia is one of the world leaders in this field and I think that this cooperation should develop. As you know, yesterday, President Trump decided that the United States will leave the UN arms trade treaty (ATT). From my point of view, it’s very strange because the world needs a framework for this field. If the United States leaves the ATT, then it’s very dangerous for the world.
This is why I think relations between Russia and China in this field, are very important because they should act against the United States’ policy on arms so the world continue to be a more peaceful and friendly place.
For me it’s very strange that America’s leadership is now pursuing a very aggressive military policy. They will leave the ATT and it’s very dangerous. It’s very dangerous for the world, for Europeans and Asians. For this reason, I think Russia and China should become close in this field and actively demonstrate to the world that they are not aggressive countries. We don’t want to have military conflict with other countries. We prefer peaceful development and peaceful relations with other countries and other people.