The Belt and Road Initiative Gives New Impetus for International Youth Cooperation
The Belt and Road Initiative proposed by China is not only a powerful economic project, but also a project developing international ties in the fields of culture, education and tourism.
International youth cooperation has become an integral part of the development of international humanitarian cooperation around the world. Active participation of young people on the international agenda has been noted in the ASEAN, BRICS, EAEC and SCO countries. It is necessary to remark the significant role of Russia and China in the development of these processes and the inclusion of youth humanitarian cooperation issues in high-level meetings and discussions.
In today’s world, the Belt and Road Initiative proposed by China is not only a powerful economic project, but is also a project developing international ties in the fields of culture, education and tourism. Young leaders and major youth associations are actively involved in establishing such links.
Thus, on May 8, 2015, in Moscow, the leaders of Russia and China signed the “Joint Statement of the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China on Cooperation to interface the Construction of the Eurasian Economic Union and the Silk Road Economic Belt”. As part of the Astana Economic Forum, an Agreement on trade and economic cooperation between the EAEC and China was signed on 17 May 2018. At the same time, it was noted in the agreement that the Shanghai Cooperation Organization will become the main platform where the issues of interfacing will be discussed.
In due course, it is worth paying special attention to international youth initiatives in the format of Russian-Chinese cooperation and cooperation within the Shanghai Organization.
This is how the International Acceleration Programme “Russian-Chinese Youth Business Incubator” has been implemented for the past five years. Its main organizers are the All-China Federation of Youth, the Federal Agency on Youth Affairs (Russian Federation) and the Russian Union of Youth. This program fully corresponds to the provisions of the Agreement on Trade and Economic Cooperation between the Eurasian Economic Union and China, as young entrepreneurs are actively involved in the formation and implementation of international economic projects in innovation, trade, investment and service provision.
The Russian-Chinese Youth Business Incubator enables young people to accelerate and strengthen their business cooperation, exchange innovations at the international level and attract investments into the economies of their countries.
The Russian-Chinese Youth Business Incubator currently operates in 12 regions of Russia and 12 provinces in China.
The program consists of two stages: the Russian stage and the Chinese stage, each taking 10 days. In the Russian part, experts teach participants the peculiarities of doing business with partners from China. At the same time, Chinese businesspersons visiting Russia, get acquainted with the unique characters of doing business in Russia, visit Russian enterprises and perform negotiations in the B2B format. In response, in China, applying the knowledge gained in practice, Russian residents meet with relevant Chinese business partners to create and implement joint projects. Participation in the program is free.
Over 200 agreements and contracts have been signed and fulfilled by residents of the Russian-Chinese Youth Business Incubator since 2019 in the areas of electronic trade, food export and import, high-tech equipment, technology exchange, tourism, cultural and educational services.
Over 5 years of implementation of the Russian-Chinese Youth Business Incubator, the volume of investments and trade turnover of the participants counted to more than $320 million.
One of the main features of youth cooperation between Russia and China is the need for a new model of regional cooperation. Economic regional cooperation between Russia and China is transforming into increasingly systematic cooperation in trade relations, energy, natural resources development, nuclear power, new technologies, finance and transport.
Thus, young people, thanks to the Russian-Chinese youth business incubators, should be more actively involved in inter-regional economic cooperation.
The spotlight in regional cooperation is China’s proposal, within the framework of the Belt and Road, to create with Russia a simplified scheme for the free movement of goods, labor, capital and technology in the form of a bilateral customs union with common market elements by eliminating barriers. Thus, Russia faces the choice of creating a system of trade relations that will serve to increase the economic potential of Russia’s regions.
Thanks to the success of the Russian-Chinese Youth Business Incubator, the organizers have launched the Youth Business Incubator in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization member states. Young entrepreneurs from Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, India and Pakistan，etc actively participate in the SCO Business Incubator.
In addition to economic cooperation between young people, attention should also be paid to their cooperation in the cultural and humanitarian sphere. For example, international exchanges of 100 young leaders between Russia and China have been held annually for 7 years. These exchanges create all the necessary opportunities for young leaders who later implement bilateral programs and projects involving a large number of young people interested in international cooperation.
The Belt and Road Initiative has also found a response in the work of the Youth Council of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Thus, on an annual basis, members of the SCO Youth Council from China represented by the All-China Youth Federation conduct an SCO Youth Camp, in which projects and programs of the Belt and Road are discussed.
It should be noted that today the SCO Youth Council is one of the most authoritative international youth organizations. The creation of the SCO Youth Council was initiated by Russian President Vladimir Putin at an anniversary meeting of the Council of the Heads of SCO Member States.
On May 2-5, 2009, the SCO Youth Assembly took place in Ekaterinburg, where the Founding Conference of the SCO Youth Council took place on May 4.
The SCO Youth Council is a body that coordinates the activities of youth organizations, associations and unions within the SCO member states: Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. At present, the SCO Youth Council is in the process of accepting the youth organizations in India and Pakistan as national parties.
The purpose of the SCO Youth Council is cooperation and exchange of experience of the young generation of the SCO countries in various areas of young personality development, which would provide fundamental continuity of the SCO policy and contribute to the implementation of its historical mission.
More than 30 different programs and projects are implemented annually as part of the SCO Youth Council. The most large-scale projects are International Festival “Student Spring of BRICS and SCO countries”, SCO Youth Camp, SCO Tourism Youth Forum, Forum of Young Leaders of BRICS and SCO countries, Youth Business Incubator on the territory of the SCO countries.
We see that bilateral and multilateral youth cooperation is developing and corresponding to the present challenges. Young leaders must act as a driver in creating new programs and projects that become international and systematic by their nature.
Against the background of the ambiguous processes of globalization, the issues of the comprehensive development of the young generation continue to be one of the priority tasks of China and Russia.
It is important to update the threats in the information environment, the phenomenon and influence on the young generation of social networks, mass media, the widespread of “mass culture”, the cult of consumerism, the danger of destroying morals and value orientations. This is where the real struggle for the minds and hearts of our youth is unfolding. These threats are dynamically evolving, changing the target audience and have a huge destructive potential. In this dimension, the upbringing, education, possession of modern knowledge, and a strong civic position of young people are of paramount importance as a response to neutralizing such aggressive challenges and threats.
In such circumstances, the youth of the BRICS and SCO countries, for the most part, act as a solid support both in the sphere of socio-economic development of States in particular, and in strengthening national, regional and international security in general.
Tatiana Seliverstova is the head of the International Activities Department of the Federal Agency on Youth Affairs (Russian Federation), member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Youth Council, and founder of the International Acceleration Programme “Russian-Chinese Youth Business Incubator”.