Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 36.2019
2019.09.02 — 2019.09.08
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Putin invites Indian PM to visit Moscow for 2020 Victory Day celebrations (Путин приглашает премьер-министра Индии посетить Москву на празднование Дня Победы 2020 года) / Russia, September, 2019
Keywords: top_level_meeting, vladimir_putin, narendra_modi

Putin thanked the Indian premier for attending the Eastern Economic Forum in Russia's Vladivostok

VLADIVOSTOK, September 4. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin has invited Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to attend the celebrations to mark the 75th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War in Moscow in May 2020.

"We are expecting you in May next year at the celebrations devoted to marking the 75th anniversary ofVictory in the Great Patriotic War, Victory over Nazism," the Russian president told the Indian premier during the talks.

Indian prime minister arrives in Vladivostok to take part in EEF, meet with Putin

Putin noted that he also planned to meet with Modi at a summit of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) in Brazil, which is scheduled for November.

The Russian president said he had held a one-on-one meeting with Modi on Wednesday, discussing a broad range of issues while traveling on a boat to a new Zvezda shipyard and on the way back.

Putin thanked the Indian premier for attending the Eastern Economic Forum in Russia's Far Eastern port city of Vladivostok as the guest of honor. A serious groundwork had been laid by the ministries, agencies as well as business entities before this meeting, he noted. "A solid package of bilateral documents had been agreed on, including in trade, investment and industrial sector, on military and technical ties, education and culture," Putin said.

Later on day, the sides will adopt a joint statement titled "Through trust and partnership to new heights of cooperation", which will encourage further deepening of bilateral ties, including closer foreign policy coordination, the Russian president said.

Putin emphasized that Russia and India "have been working rather actively on the global arena, supporting each other. "Our positions are very close or coincide on many key issues of the international agenda," the president noted.
Russia Has 'Very Good Partners', India and China, for Competing With West - BRICS Forum President (У России есть «очень хорошие партнеры», Индия и Китай, чтобы конкурировать с Западом - президент форума БРИКС) / Russia, September, 2019
Keywords: expert_opinion, quotation, economic_challenges

BRICS International Forum President Purnima Anand believes that the main force driving the BRICS nations is cooperation between Russia, India, and China, with Russia being the largest democratic country in the world and India the most populous.

Purnima Anand attended the fifth Eastern Economic Forum, held in Russia's Pacific port city Vladivostok this week, where she spoke of the importance of the BRICS Forum and the activities of Indo-Russian Youth Clubs that are aimed at getting the younger generation in both countries to cooperate.

Sputnik: BRICS International Forum is a community initiative; it's a people-to-people initiative. What is its role in the region? How important it is this for all the participants?

Purnima Anand: BRICS International Forum is a new perspective, for work on a bigger scale between Russia and India. It gives a good platform to elaborate Indian-Russian relations. I think in the whole world, economic changes are happening very widely and in this context, India-Russia is very important, as during this Eastern Economic Forum we can see how important India-Russia relations are.

And in the Eastern Economic Forum, we are seeing that on the Asian side, President Vladimir Putin is trying to develop very big opportunities, which will [benefit] the new silk route, and [provide] new opportunities for enterprises from Asian countries within Russia. So I feel that the Eastern Economic Forum and BRICS have a very large [framework] to work with in Asia. In Asia, three countries are very important: Japan, India, and China, so if these three countries work together with Russia, then BRICS will get its real meaning.

Sputnik: What is being done by your organisation on the level of people's democracy? And what can we expect in the coming years, what kind of events?

Purnima Anand: I've been working with Russia for the last 25 years, and after 1992 when the USSR collapsed, a little freeze was observed in India-Russia relations. So we were working together and we were having this big dream that good times will return. And in this forum, we can see it, how the Indian government is ready for all the MoUs (memoranda of understanding) and agreements.

BRICS International Forum is continuously working with youth because it was our hope and faith that youth should know how Russia has changed, and how India-Russia relations are important. During the past 72 years of our diplomatic relations, we have seen ups and downs many times, Russia and India as well, and sometimes India would turn towards the West due to multiple country relations, to balance the situation, and from time to time we observed that when changes happen, the next generation should always be ready to understand the realities.

So BRICS International Forum and the International Federation of Indo-Russian Youth Clubs, in collaboration with the Russian Centre of Science and Culture and the Russian Embassy in India, continuously tries to connect with the young people of India. We're trying to divert their interest towards Russia and the BRICS countries from the West.

Western influence is more [prevalent] in Indian society due to [the English] language, business, and dollar hegemony, but now Russia is changing and attracting a number of young people due to their higher education and entrepreneurial skills, so I hope we succeed.

Sputnik: You mentioned Western influence and you mentioned mostly Russia-India relations but BRICS also includes Brazil, South Africa and China as members. We know that India, China, and Russia are kind of staying close together, while the other BRICS members are possibly having doubts about the future of the organisation.

We know that Brazil is currently experiencing a lot of Western influence with its current government. Is there a future for the BRICS group and how are you planning to work without countries, such as Brazil and South Africa, for instance?

Purnima Anand: Recently I visited Johannesburg during elections, I'm an international observer also, and Russia has started new political lobbies in African countries, so we are into that, with different political observers from a group of 25 countries. We are observing that people are interested in the BRICS and political changes happen everywhere.

I suppose the current president is with the influence of BRICS. The previous president of Brazil was also very interested in BRICS and she worked so hard, but the current president is under the influence of the Western economic system. He directly says: the West is giving us economic support, so what can BRICS give us? So according to that, he wants to balance the situation in his country. Every leader has his or her own concept and the basis of their [plans].

I think that BRICS has its own trend because, as you said, Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. If you connect India, China and Russia, Russia has the largest geographical area, so it means Russia is the largest democracy in the world. India and China have the largest populations in the world. India is the largest democracy in terms of population, so these two leaders are enough in the BRICS. China is also totally in the BRICS format; you can say, China is completely with Russia. So Russia has two very good partners in Asia to compete with the West.

Sputnik: So it's going to influence the balance within BRICS?

Purnima Anand: We can hope so because the dollar is fluctuating every day. Now leadership in the BRICS region is more stable when compared to the West. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has voted to restore Russia's voting rights, which shows the strength of Russia and the power of President Vladimir Putin in Europe.

So sanctions did not work, they need Russia. I think in this world we need balance and peaceful cooperation, so when countries have more good people, young people, and economic ties to other countries, their economies will succeed.
Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
Do renewable energy consumption and service industry development contribute to CO2 emissions reduction in BRICS countries? (Способствуют ли потребление возобновляемых источников энергии и развитие сферы услуг сокращению выбросов CO2 в странах БРИКС?) / China, September, 2019
Keywords: ecology, economic_challenges, research


In recent years, BRICS countries have attached great importance to renewable energy development and actively promoted the shift of economic structure towards service industry, in order to achieve the decoupling of economic development from carbon emissions. However, relevant studies mostly neglect the cross-sectional dependence and heterogeneity issues, which may cause biased results. Therefore, this paper selects the panel data of BRICS countries during 1996-2017 and employs the common correlated effects mean group (CCEMG) method, which are based on the cross-sectional dependence and heterogeneity assumptions, to explore the influence of renewable energy consumption and service industry development on CO2 emissions in BRICS countries. Besides, we also use the random effects model and pooled estimated generalized least squares model, as well as fully modified OLS model for comparison. The results indicate that enhancing the proportion of renewable energy consumption in the total energy consumption is an effective measure to reduce CO2 emissions in BRICS countries. Moreover, the steadily rising contribution of service industry to economic growth in BRICS countries during the sample period does not necessarily contribute to reduce CO2 emissions.
BRICS' New Development Bank to provide Rs 6,000-crore loan to Andhra Pradesh for social infrastructure projects (Новый банк развития БРИКС предоставит Андхра-Прадешу кредит в размере 6000 крор для проектов социальной инфраструктуры) / India, September, 2019
Keywords: ndb, investments

  • New Development Bank (NDB) will provide a loan of Rs 6,000 crore to Andhra Pradesh for various social infrastructure projects in the state

  • The New Development Bank was set up in 2015 by BRICS nations

  • The Shanghai-based bank has lent over Rs 75,000 crore to various projects till date all over the world and Rs 25,000 crores to India alone

Amaravati: New Development Bank (NDB) will provide a loan of Rs 6,000 crore to Andhra Pradesh for various social infrastructure projects in the state. "A delegation of New Development Bank (NDB) met Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy at his Tadepalli residence. NDB vice president N Jong and Project Head Rajpurkar held a meeting with the chief minister and gave a green signal for the sanction of a loan of Rs 6,000 crore", the chief minister's officer (CMO) said in a statement on Thursday.

A delegation of New Development Bank (NDB) met Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy. ANI

"The loan would be approved soon, the delegation members said. The amount will be used for social infrastructure projects. The loan will be repaid in 32 years", the statement informed.

The chief minister has sought more assistance from the NDB to enable the state to complete its projects including infrastructure development, building of schools, hospitals and supply of clean drinking water.

The New Development Bank was set up in 2015 by BRICS nations. The Shanghai-based bank has lent over Rs 75,000 crore to various projects till date all over the world and Rs 25,000 crores to India alone.
How trade wars are weakening the BRICs (Как торговые войны ослабляют БРИКC) / Greece, September, 2019
Keywords: expert_opinion, trade_relations
Author: Craig Botham

The escalating trade war means we have lowered our expectations for growth across the BRIC economies (Brazil, India, Russia and China) this quarter. We also see higher inflation compared to our previous forecast. This is mostly a result of a slightly stronger US dollar, and higher oil and food prices.

Usually when inflation is rising, central banks raise interest rates to keep prices in check. However, this time we think emerging market authorities will prioritise the slower growth outlook over the higher inflation outlook and lower interest rates instead in order to boost economic activity.

China: brace for impact

Our more negative assumption on the trade war has consequences for our outlook on Chinese growth. The second quarter had already disappointed relative to our forecast, and the authorities haven't provided any economic stimulus (either through lower policy rates, increased government spending or lower taxes), so with the added headwind of tariffs in September it is inevitable that we downgrade Chinese growth for this year.

The escalation in the trade war also spells bad news for the currency; we expect that after tariffs are hiked to 25% across all Chinese exports to the US, the renminbi will weaken further, to around 7.2 to the dollar. Rising food prices had already lifted our inflation forecast and the likely depreciation of the currency will push it up even further.

Inflation is not expected to stay persistently above the 3% target though, and so should not prevent the People's Bank of China (PBoC) from lowering key rates, should the occasion demand it. We would also expect some additional support from the government, with some spending likely in the fourth quarter of 2019 and more to be announced in March 2020.

Brazil: fixing the roof before the next downpour

While we have also downgraded both 2019 and 2020 growth expectations in Brazil (following soft data, domestic travails and a weaker outlook for global growth), there is some good news. The success of the pension reform has boosted confidence and investment, helping to prompt a considerable rebound in economic conditions.

We also expect it to have a positive effect on the currency; the real should be stronger in a world where fiscal concerns have been dealt with and growth is recovering, helping to push down inflation.

The pension reform also removes a major source of uncertainty for Brazilian assets, which, in combination with the growth and inflation outlooks, has made it easier and easier for the central bank to cut interest rates. We expect more cuts to follow the most recent 50bps reduction, and significantly revise lower our expectation for policy rates. We now expect a further 75bps in cuts by the end of 2020 to 5.25%.

India: credit system struggles on

Though India is a much more closed economy than its BRIC counterparts, and so enjoys a degree of insulation from the trade war and slower global growth, activity in 2019 continues to disappoint. Meanwhile, the first budget of the returning Modi-led government following its victory in May's elections offered little additional support to growth. We wrote about this budget in July, noting that it disappointed expectations of pro-growth stimulus and so weighed on markets.

On the monetary policy front, further interest rate cuts seem a certainty, particularly with inflation remaining subdued. There are risks to this outlook; the recent weakness in the rupee (as in other EM currencies) and the uncertain prospect of monsoon rains. All the same, given the growth and credit backdrop, we expect further easing to come.

Russia: steady as she goes

We have made some minor downgrades to our outlook for Russian growth, reflecting a weaker second quarter this year and the softer global backdrop for 2020. We continue to believe that in the second half of this year infrastructure projects should support growth going into 2020.

As we have noted before, fiscal and monetary policy in Russia has been redesigned to reduce the sensitivity of macroeconomic variables to the oil price, including the currency. Consequently, even large swings in oil prices have only a limited impact on the outlook, compared to a few years ago. This also implies a relatively stable currency.

One risk arises from geopolitics. The US has imposed a second round of sanctions on Russia, this time prohibiting US banks from participating in the issuance of Russian sovereign debt. This has added to pressure on the rouble and will see more caution from the central bank.

Russia is the only economy for which we haven't changed our monetary policy forecast. The central bank appears cautious about elevated inflationary expectations and the possibility that government starts to spend more later this year, generating further inflationary pressure. Sanctions-related currency weakness will only add to these concerns.

Source: Thomson Datastream, Schroders Economics Group. 13 August 2019. Numbers in parentheses refer to previous forecast. The forecasts (f) included should not be relied upon, are not guaranteed and are provided only as at the date of issue. Our forecasts are based on our own assumptions which may change. Forecasts and assumptions may be affected by external economic or other factors.
Source: Thomson Datastream, Schroders Economics Group. 13 August 2019. Numbers in parentheses refer to previous forecast.
Source: Thomson Datastream, Schroders Economics Group. 16 August 2019
The Contribution of BRICS to the International Competition Policy Regime (Вклад БРИКС в режим международной конкурентной политики) / Russia, September, 2019
Keywords: expert_opinion, research, economic_challenges


In the modern world, competition policy is an important part of global governance. Coordination of efforts between different countries is not an easy task, because the distribution of gains and losses from anticompetitive conducts is uneven across the globe. We identify joint interests of BRICS to influence international competition policy regime and analyse the effects of domestic enforcement on global markets. Among the targets of competition enforcement with large effects on global markets are conducts of international property rights holders. BRICS authorities apply remedies in order to weaken intellectual property rights (IPR) protection, both under merger approval and infringement decisions on unilateral conducts.

Similarity of the rules on merger control in BRICS gives reason to believe that global governance in the form of a supranational advisory body with the right of legislative initiative is possible in this area. On the other hand, a review of existing legislation and the institutional structure of BRICS enforcement indicates that enforcement against anticompetitive conducts is unlikely to become the focus of coordinated action.
Financial Architecture and Financial Flows: BRICS and the G7 (Финансовая архитектура и финансовые потоки: БРИКС и G7) / India, September, 2019
Keywords: economic_challenges, research


Existing research on global financial architecture typically focuses on downside corrections in the eventuality of a crisis or on the contribution of financial flows to aggregate economic growth. Such accounts are of limited relevance if the composition of financial flows and aggregate economic growth are heterogeneous. For example, the factors that attract foreign direct investment, foreign portfolio investment, foreign reserve investment and other foreign investments, and the mechanism through which they contribute to economic growth, are often varied. This chapter, by looking at the relationship between the components of financial flows and those of aggregate economic growth, aims to fill a longstanding gap in the literature. Our exposition focuses on two groups of countries, BRICS and the G7, that have notable contrasts across several attributes such as the aggregate growth rates, levels of incomes, patterns of financial flows and demography. The results offer some pertinent guidance for the future development of financial architecture and complementary growth imperatives within both the groups.

Industrial transformation poses a threat to traditional economy sectors (Промышленная трансформация представляет угрозу для традиционных секторов экономики) / Russia, September, 2019
Keywords: expert_opinion, economic_challenges

How is the 4th industrial revolution changing the BRICS economy? What opportunities are opening up for the countries, and how to avoid the negative consequences of the transformation? These topics were discussed by the participants of the round table Development of a Joint Development Strategy for the BRICS countries during the 4th Industrial Revolution, held in the Analytical Center.

The experts noted that the industrial revolution involves the whole global economy and brings along opportunities and challenges. In particular, new business models are emerging in the markets, companies are modifying the innovation implementation process, and intangible assets become more important for the business than tangible assets.

However, according to the participants in the discussion, the 4th industrial transformation process is accompanied by general uncertainty and increasing inequality between countries and within them. Moreover, the mass introduction of digital technologies is becoming a threat for the traditional economic sectors, leading to changes in the labor market. As experts clarified, this is an area of risk for the BRICS countries. The countries of the group currently lack the developed human capital of Western countries, and the workforce does not have the necessary qualifications required by the fast-changing reality.

The experts fear that the 4th industrial revolution will hinder the BRICS countries' involvement in the global economy, since, for example, digitalization reduces the demand for cheap workforce, which is prevalent in China and India.

The round table participants also noted that in BRICS countries infrastructure is not sufficiently developed, especially in the context of digital technologies, which poses a threat to full transition to the new development model.
From S-400s to Hi-Tech: 'Time-Tested Friends' Russia and India Boosting Bilateral Cooperation (От S-400 до Hi-Tech: «проверенные временем друзья» Россия и Индия развивают двустороннее сотрудничество) / Russia, September, 2019
Keywords: trade_relations, economic_challenges

On 4-6 September 2019, the Russian port city of Vladivostok is hosting two major regional events, namely the East Economic Forum (EEF) 2019 and the 20th jubilee India-Russia annual summit. Indian observers have looked at the decades-long India-Russian partnership, and expect more to come in terms of economic collaboration.

The second day of the East Economic Forum (EEF) 2019 was marked by Indian Prime Minister Naredra Modi's proposal to provide Russia with a $1 billion loan for the development of the Far East during his speech at the summit's plenary session on 5 September.

Prime Minister Modi, who is participating in the event at the special invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin as a chief guest, invited 11 governors of the Far East Region to visit India to bolster economic ties between the country and the Russian Federal District.

India Continues to Buy Russian Arms Despite US Sanctions

According to Rishabh Sethi, the head of global projects at the BRICS International Forum and Friends for Leadership Programme Representative, Russian-Indian relations have been thriving for decades.

Indian-Soviet diplomatic ties were established several months before the Asian giant officially gained independence from the British Empire in August 1947. During the Cold War era, India and the USSR maintained a strong strategic, military, economic and diplomatic relationship. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the decades long partnership transitioned into a special relationship.

"Both countries are time-tested friends for each other", Sethi emphasises.

The scholar has singled out the Russo-Indian defence ties, referring to the much-discussed S-400 deal formally signed on 5 October 2018 despite a US threat of sanctions under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

"The S-400 deal was one of the major setbacks for everybody in the Western countries as you can see, which proved that India and Russia are very much close friends," Sethi stresses.

Russia was India's top arms supplier between 2014 and 2018, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Organisation. On 4 September, President Putin and Prime Minister Modi agreed to enhance defence cooperation, with $14.5 billion worth of arms contracts being signed by the two countries since last year.

The scholar points out that Russia and India are working within various formats, including BRICS and trilateral cooperation with China.

"Russia, India and China… are among the strongest countries in the world… because these three countries are major [in terms of the] size of their populations and economic development also," he underscores. "And also in terms of technology, because Russia is very much strong in terms of defence technology, India is very much strong in IT technology, China is also very much strong in production and technology like this. So these three countries are playing a very major role across the globe, increasing development and [improving] economically".

India and Russia Stepping Up Trade & Creating New Technological Partnership

Rajendra Srivastava, the dean of the Indian School of Business (ISB) and the Novartis professor of marketing strategy and innovation, makes it clear that India-Russian collaboration has great potential and is not limited to defence deals.

"When I look at the potential for cooperation, I'll talk more about India and Russia rather than all of the Far East [because] there are so many possibilities in areas where the countries are complimentary," the professor says. "So, for example, when it comes to natural resources Russia has a lot and India needs them, whether it's oil and gas or it is looking at other minerals."

Srivastava remarks that "there are areas where Russia and India are strong in the same respect" and there are other spheres "where India and Russia are complimentary", citing opportunities in the spheres of information technologies, telemedicine, and education.

"So if you take, for example, the information technology sector, Russia has a lot of talent, India has a lot of talent, the opportunities are global. So, the two countries can work together in order to deliver a solution somewhere else. The other thing is that there is also a potential for Russian businesses to come in India and the other ways around," he explains.

The professor also refers to the Indian School of Business (ISB) cooperation with the Moscow School of Management in Skolkovo. The two entities signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on 22 August, agreeing to exchange faculty and research staff, and organise joint events, academic research and other educational activities.

"So, one thing that we're doing in our partnership in Skolkovo is to see if we can play a role in helping Russian companies… to understand how business is done in India, what's the distribution, what's the channel, and how to form alliances in India, but basically how to make things moving," he stresses.

"There is so much potential and we are just at the starting point of what could be done", Srivastava highlights.

At the 20th India-Russia Annual Summit, which took place on Wednesday, President Putin and PM Modi signalled their readiness to increase bilateral industrial cooperation and "create a new technological and investment partnership, especially in advanced high-tech areas" in a bid to boost mutual trade to $30 billion by 2025, according to the joint statement.

Earlier, on 12-13 August a delegation of four chief ministers of Indian states led by the commerce and industry minister of India visited Vladivostok for the first time ever to explore new business opportunities in the Far East.

Increasing Integration: 'Countries Depend on Each Other as Building Blocks'

According to David Okpatuma, a coordinator for Africa, Art Shapers and member of Friends of Cities, the EEF 2019 has once again underlined the significance of inter-connectivity and the world's economic integration.

"One of the key highlights from this year's forum is that the [countries of the] world are opening up to each other there is inter-connectivity between the worlds," Okpatuma says. "I am actually looking at a partnership whereby countries now depend on each other as building blocks of the world. So I am looking at the global connectivity been enhanced and heightened by virtue of this forum and which is a very good thing and tell very great things of the nearest future".

In an indirect reference to the US economic course and tariff policy, Okpatuma highlights that growing integration and network cooperation can provide much more to the world than economic isolation.

The views and opinions expressed by the speakers do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.
Welcome to the Indo-Russia maritime Silk Road (Добро пожаловать на Индо-Российский морской Шелковый путь) / China, September, 2019
Keywords: expert_opinion, trade_relations
Author: Pepe Escobar

There's no way to follow the complex inner workings of the Eurasia integration process without considering what takes place annually at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok.

BRICS for the moment may be dead – considering the nasty cocktail of economic brutalism and social intolerance delivered by the incendiary "Captain" Bolsonaro in Brazil. Yet RIC – Russia-India-China – is alive, well and thriving.

That was more than evident after the Putin-Modi bilateral summit in Vladivostok.

A vast menu was on the table, from aviation to energy. It included the "possibility of setting up joint ventures in India that would design and build passenger aircraft," defense technologies and military cooperation as the basis for "an especially privileged strategic partnership," and a long-term agreement to import Russian crude, possibly using the Northern Sea Route and a pipeline system."

All that seems to spell out a delightful revival of the notorious Soviet-era motto Rusi-Hindi bhai bhai (Russians and Indians are brothers).

And all that would be complemented by what may be described as a new push for a Russia-India Maritime Silk Road – revival of the Chennai-Vladivostok maritime corridor.

Arctic to the Indian Ocean

Chennai-Vladivostok may easily interlock with the Chinese-driven Maritime Silk Road from the South China Sea to the Indian Ocean and beyond, part of the Belt and Road Initiative. Simultaneously, it may add another layer to Russia's "pivot to Asia".

The "pivot to Asia" was inevitably discussed in detail in Vladivostok. How is it interpreted across Asia? What do Asians want to buy from Russia? How can we integrate the Russian Far East into the pan-Asian economy?

As energy or trade corridors, the fact is both Chennai-Vladivostok and Belt and Road spell out Eurasia integration. India in this particular case will profit from Russian resources traveling all the way from the Arctic and the Russian Far East, while Russia will profit from more Indian energy companies investing in the Russian Far East.

The fine-print details of the Russia-China "comprehensive strategic partnership" as well as Russia's push for Greater Eurasia were also discussed at length in Vladivostok. A crucial factor is that as well as China, Russia and India have made sure their trade and economic relationship with Iran – a key node of the ongoing, complex Eurasian integration project – remains.

As Russia and India stressed: "The sides acknowledge the importance of full and efficient implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on the Iranian nuclear program for ensuring regional and international peace, security and stability. They confirm full commitment to Resolution 2231 of the UN Security Council."

Most of all, Russia and India reaffirmed an essential commitment since BRICS was set up over a decade ago. They will continue to "promote a system of mutual transactions in national currencies," bypassing the US dollar.

One can easily imagine how this will go down among Washington sectors bent on luring India into the Trump administration's Indo-Pacific strategy, which is a de facto China containment mechanism.

Luring Chinese capital

In terms of Eurasian integration, what's happening in the Russian Far East totally interlocks with a special report on China's grand strategy across the Eurasian heartland presented in Moscow earlier this week.

As for Russia's own "pivot to Asia," an essential plank of which is integration of the Russian Far East, inevitably it's bound to remain a complex issue. A sobering report by the Valdai club meticulously details the pitfalls. Here are the highlights:

– A depopulation phenomenon: "Many well-educated and ambitious young people go to Moscow, St. Petersburg or Shanghai in the hope of finding opportunities for career advancement and personal fulfillment, which they still do not see at home. The overwhelming majority of them do not come back."

– Who's benefitting? "The federal mega projects, such as the Eastern Siberia-Pacific Ocean oil pipeline, the Power of Siberia gas pipeline or the Vostochny Cosmodrome produce an increase in gross regional product but have little effect on the living standards of the majority of Far Easterners."

– What else is new? "Oil and gas projects on Sakhalin account for the lion's share of FDI. And these are not new investments either – they were made in the late 1990s-2000s, before the proclaimed "turn to the East."

– The role of Chinese capital: There's no rush towards the Far East yet, "in part because Chinese companies would like to mine natural resources there on similarly liberal terms as in Third World countries, such as Angola or Laos where they bring their own workforce and do not overly concern themselves with environmental regulations."

– The raw material trap: Resources in the Russian Far East "are by no means unique, probably with the exception of Yakutian diamonds. They can be imported from many other countries: coal from Australia, iron ore from Brazil, copper from Chile and wood from New Zealand, all the more so since the costs of maritime shipping are relatively low today."

– Sanctions: "Many potential investors are scared off by US sanctions on Russia."

The bottom line is that for all the pledges in the "comprehensive strategic partnership," the Russian Far East has not yet built an effective model for cooperation with China.

That will certainly change in the medium term as Beijing is bound to turbo-charge its "escape from Malacca" strategy, to "build up mainland exports of resources from Eurasian countries along its border, including the Russian Far East. The two recently built bridges across the Amur River obviously could be of help in this respect."

What this means is that Vladivostok may well end up as a major hub for Russia and India after all.
How China succeeds in its 70 years of development (Как Китай преуспевает за 70 лет своего развития) / China, September, 2019
Keywords: research, expert_opinion

The world has witnessed China's dramatic economic growth and social development since 1949. Its economy has continued to expand and China has substantially increased its comprehensive national strength and raised its contribution to world economic growth. China has also vigorously promoted the development of various social undertakings, enhanced its public cultural services, improved its medical and health system, and strengthened its commitment toward environmental protection.

The numbers speak clearly for themselves. In 1952, the country's GDP was only 67.9 billion yuan (about $9.5 billion) and its per capita GDP was only 119 yuan. Before its reform and opening up, China's GDP in 1978 had increased to 367.9 billion yuan (about $51.5 billion), accounting for only 1.8% of the world economy, and ranking 11th in the world. In 2018, China's GDP stood at 90 trillion yuan (about $13 trillion), accounting for nearly 16% of the world economy, which was 175 times higher than that in 1952, and had an average annual growth rate of 8.1%.

What has transformed China from a poor country to an economic success and helped it to pull millions of its people out of poverty? One major explanation is reform and opening up to the world through the introduction of the market economy system, modern technology and management.

However, one still cannot explain why many other nations in Africa, South America and South Asia, or even the BRICS countries failed with their reform and open policy. For example, China's GDP was over $13 trillion in 2018, whilst India's was $2.7 trillion, just under a fifth of China's. Examining the past experiences of seven decades, one would not be surprised to find the reasons, which lie in the determination and implementation of the reform and opening up policy: continuous innovation, endless reform and opening up.

"Crossing the river by touching the stones" is the vivid expression for China's reform and opening up experience, which implies that China is not simply following the reform and opening up model of other nations. China adopts its own gradual approach to its reform and opening up to the world, which began from its rural regions and agriculture sector.

What separates developed and developing countries is as much a gap in knowledge as a gap in resources. China became aware of this and invested heavily in education, promoted institutional innovation and learning, engagement in trade and foreign investment, and listened to the lessons and experiences of others.

Specific institutional innovations also contributed to China's success. Such institutions were not seen in other countries. For instance, the individual responsibility system in agriculture provided strong incentives for farmers to improve their agriculture production; the dual pricing regime helped facilitate the transition from a central planned price to market prices; and balanced industrial policies identified priority sectors, but did not exclusively focus on them.

An aerial photo of Yangluo Port on the Yangtze River in Wuhan, capital of central China's Hubei province, on Aug. 13, 2018. [Photo/Xinhua]

Due largely to the reforms and opening up that had unique Chinese characteristics, the past 70 years have seen great achievement. The conditions for agricultural production has continued to improve and the comprehensive production capacity has increased rapidly. China's industrial system has also gradually improved, and the output of many of its industrial products now ranks first in the world. Its service industry is also booming and its ability to meet production and living needs is constantly improving. The status of China's basic industry has been continuously consolidated, its energy supply capacity has been steadily improved, and the pace of infrastructure improvements has been accelerated, all of which have been providing a solid foundation for sustained economic and social development.

Meanwhile, China has steadily implemented its regional development strategy and a new pattern of integration of the economic and social development in urban and rural areas has been gradually formed. China has shifted from a closed and semi-closed country to a full-scale open country with international cooperation and has made numerous achievements in economic and trade exchanges. Its free trade zones, the Belt and Road Initiative, the international import expo, the ambitious plan to build Shenzhen into a global benchmark city, etc. are all big steps to further integrate China into the world and contribute to global development.

In a word, innovation and the never-ending reform and opening up explain China's spectacular rise and will continue to contribute to its further success as it seeks to fulfill the Chinese Dream.
Political Events
Political events in the public life of BRICS
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's remarks and answers to questions at a meeting with the students and faculty of MGIMO University on the occasion of the new academic year, Moscow, September 2, 2019 (Выступление и ответы на вопросы Министра иностранных дел России С.В.Лаврова в ходе встречи со студентами и профессорско-преподавательским составом МГИМО МИД России по случаю начала учебного года, Москва, 2 сентября 2019 года) / Russia, September, 2019
Keywords: sergey_lavrov, quotation


Mr Torkunov,

Mr Yakovenko,

As your rector has said, these annual meetings at our alma mater have long become traditional. First of all, I would like to congratulate the first-year students who have enrolled at this wonderful school after a very challenging competition, as it has been said here, which included a high Unified State Examination result, as well as very serious and difficult additional trials. But you have no time to relax, for there are years of hard work ahead. I am confident that apart from intensive high-pressure studies – the quality of education is very high here, thanks to the MGIMO faculty, which I would like to commend once again – you will also have an opportunity to have fun as well. One of the traditions at MGIMO is students' loyalty to this school, which Mr Torkunov and I helped develop. It was a long time ago, but the tradition has taken root, which is very nice.

You have everything you need here. MGIMO meets the highest requirements set to modern universities. Over the past 75 years, it has become famous as the main centre training top-class experts in international relations. Thousands of MGIMO graduates are working in many fields, from state governance to business – all around the world.

It is only in a very few countries, one or two at the most, that a MGIMO diploma is no longer considered a pass into adult life, where MGIMO graduates have been persecuted and fired. This is why I appreciate the courage of our foreign students. I am sure that when you get back to your countries and start working there, the years you have spent studying here will provide an additional impetus to the efforts we are taking now to prevent international relations from falling into the abyss of chaos and confrontation. This is a challenging job, in doing which we rely also on the expert potential of MGIMO and the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Foreign Ministry. I would like to welcome once again Mr Alexander Yakovenko, the new rector of the Diplomatic Academy. He is a well-known person who held responsible posts at the central office of the Foreign Ministry and also outside Russia.

Regarding the theme of our meeting today, it is a time when global politics is running a high fever and when we see a new trend in the activities of our American colleagues, which includes the destruction of the strategic stability and arms control system, withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal and disregard for many decisions of the UN Security Council, in particular on the Middle East settlement. Under these conditions we must make the best possible use of our intellectual potential. I would like to repeat that we expect contributions to these efforts from our colleagues at MGIMO and the Diplomatic Academy.

The situation in the sphere of arms control is really negative. Following the withdrawal from the ABM Treaty in the early 2000s, the United States terminated yet another vital instrument, the INF Treaty, several weeks ago. The future of the New START Treaty, which will expire in February 2021, is up in the air. We have called for extending this treaty for another five years, as it is stipulated in the treaty itself. We do not see a clear US reaction to this proposal yet, but we keep working.

In addition to alarming trends in arms control and strategic stability, we are seeing attempts by the US and its closest allies to prevent the objective historical process of forming new centres of economic power, and financial and political influence. Our Western colleagues are not just ignoring these objective trends but are resisting them. Of course, their conduct is anti-historical and aimed at artificially preserving Western dominance that has lasted for over five centuries in the modern history of civilisations. These artificial attempts are creating additional tensions, all the more so since the Western leaders are not stopping at methods of unfair competition, but also pursue unilateral illegal sanctions, overt protectionism and trade wars.

Our Western colleagues are also trying to prevent the creation of a multi-polar world (an objective process, I reiterate). They try to avoid legitimate international structures and replace international law, which is based on the UN Charter, with a kind of an order based on some rules, which are invented on a case by case basis depending on political expediency. There are plenty of examples of this. If you have any questions about this, I will be ready to answer them later on during the interactive part of our meeting.

There are attempts to replace collective work in internationally recognised and legitimate universal structures with formulas unrelated to the UN, to create special interest clubs, and reach agreements in their own circles and impose these agreements on the rest of the international community as ultimate truth.

I believe that more people are realising that an order based on one centre of decision-making as promoted by our Western colleagues cannot be effective by definition. As I said, this doesn't take into account the appearance and consolidation of new world centres that do not want to be token money in somebody else's game. These people are primarily guided by their own national interests. They show a willingness to take an active part in forming and implementing the international and regional agendas.

A realisation of the cardinal changes in the geopolitical picture of the modern world was recently reflected in a colourful statement by President of France Emmanuel Macron at the meeting of French ambassadors where he bluntly predicted the end of Western hegemony in international relations and emphasised the need to develop cooperative work with the involvement of Russia, China and other leading countries of the modern world. Of course, we can only welcome such initiatives and their implementation. The main point is for them to develop into practical actions and help maintain an equitable dialogue aimed at reaching practical agreements based on equality, mutual respect and a culture of consensus.

Russia is the largest Eurasian power. We will continue to contribute to the consolidation of international and regional security in all dimensions, from military and political to economic and energy, and others. We will work on eliminating any dividing lines that, unfortunately, are still there after the end of the Cold War, contrary to all assurances and promises; they remain in Europe, and are even moving closer to our borders, cutting "deeper," as they say.

We will continue to uphold the values reflected in the UN Charter, will actively use our position as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, will employ the UN General Assembly and other bodies, as well as the capabilities of other groups such as the G20, BRICS, and the SCO. These are groups where decisions are not imposed by a big brother, but are based on a balanced consensus.

Strengthening the legal framework for international relations is one of our priorities. I have already said that this is often being tested and attacked now. We will uphold the fundamental norms of international law, including the sovereign equality of all states, the unacceptability of interference in their internal affairs, the need to settle disputes peacefully, the non-use of force or the threat of force, and respect for everyone's right to choose their development path – a right that all UN member states are naturally entitled to. With this understanding, we are always ready to work out agreements based on a balance of interests, which is always possible when the partners show goodwill. Ways of doing this need to be considered separately of course, as well as another major task – to comprehend what is happening in the field of strategic stability and arms control, which I briefly mentioned above, and in this context, find a way to ensure the interests of the Russian Federation to the highest possible extent, including the international aspects of this problem, and the need to understand how realistic a dialogue would be in this situation.

Again, we are counting on the expertise of our colleagues from MGIMO University and the Diplomatic Academy. We will strongly rely on your research potential and creativity, as we did before, and continue to do, in the development of our foreign policy initiatives. We welcome this kind of initiative.

We will certainly continue to cooperate with our allies and neighbours in the framework of the CSTO, the CIS, and the EAEU. Once again I will say: we are doing everything to protect our national interests. We are always open to an equal dialogue with our Western partners in a variety of formats. We should all focus on one common goal – to prevent the world from sliding further into chaos. Ideally, of course, we would like the political declarations of a new and promising architecture of peace, equal and indivisible security and broad economic cooperation in the Euro Atlantic and Eurasia, adopted by the OSCE over the past 30 years, to be translated into action. There is a demand for this, which was vividly confirmed during President Vladimir Putin's recent visit to France and his talks with President Emmanuel Macron at Fort de Bregancon.

A very urgent task is to develop these approaches to our common architecture, where there will be no leaders or followers and everyone will see that their interests are reliably provided for. An important step in this direction would be to implement President Vladimir Putin's initiative to form a Greater Eurasian Partnership with every country, without exception, on our common Eurasian continent, including the EAEU, the SCO, or ASEAN countries. Prospectively, this process should be open to the EU member countries if they are interested. I think the consistent implementation of this large-scale approach, which is not preprogrammed but would be implemented as the member countries see the benefits for themselves, would not only promote the progressive growth of national economies but would also substantially enhance predictability and stability in the vast space from Lisbon to Jakarta.

I would like to stop here and move over to the interactive part of our meeting. I am ready to answer your questions.

Question: Are there any grounds to be optimistic about the prospects for complying with the terms and conditions of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action for the Iranian Nuclear Programme (JCPOA)? Does the international community have any alternative to this crisis?

Sergey Lavrov: Of course, this situation causes concern. The JCPOA, which entered into force in 2015, was described by all members of the international community as an outstanding achievement of international diplomacy in recent decades, not only in terms of calming the situation surrounding Iran and the Persian Gulf, but also in terms of its importance for strengthening the non-proliferation regime. When the United States unilaterally ceased to comply with this agreement, everyone was seriously concerned. But the United States did not stop there. They told the other countries not to implement the JCPOA, even though it was binding for all members of the UN according to the UN Security Council resolution.

This situation led to a crisis, as the plan was based on a balance of interests and concessions. This is a major compromise, an integral part of which is Iran's right to enrich uranium to a certain degree for the purposes of their nuclear energy programme and to produce heavy water within certain limits. But, most importantly, this package included Iran's inalienable right to trade with the outside world, primarily in oil, and to be paid for it. When the United States told everyone not to buy Iranian oil or make any bank transfers in dollars as payment for goods delivered from Iran, the vast majority of countries (primarily, companies) found themselves in a difficult situation. They depend on the US market and the dollar, which, in the wake of these actions, is losing its reputation in the eyes of the international community. Of course, Washington undermined the dollar's position as the international payment currency not only by its decisions on Iran, but also with other sanctions, under which dollar transactions were disallowed for a particular country if it was run by a government that the United States found objectionable. Having said that, I would like to emphasise once again that Russia, along with the other parties to the deal on the Iranian nuclear programme, invariably confirms its commitment to this programme. We held two meetings last year at the foreign minister level of the countries participating in the programme without the United States, and worked out agreements according to which the Europeans pledged to coordinate and launch a mechanism that allows settlements with Iran in circumvention of US-controlled channels. This mechanism is not operational yet.

I mentioned President Macron's initiatives, which he discussed with President Putin at Fort de Brégançon a couple of weeks ago. One was designed to overcome the crisis around the implementation of the JCPOA. You can learn more about it from the media, so I will not dwell on it now. This process is still underway, and I do not want to make any predictions now. We hope that the actions of France and its President will bring results. President Putin supported the thought that President Macron shared with him. I will be talking with Foreign Minister of Iran Mohammad Javad Zarif right after this meeting. During the talks, we will have a chance to better understand how realistic it is to achieve results based on the initiatives put forward by the President of France.

Russian correspondents have often been discriminated against by the French authorities. What is the situation with RT France and Sputnik France journalists at this point?

Sergey Lavrov: The situation is not very positive. If nothing has changed over the past few days, then RT France and Sputnik France journalists still have no accreditation at the Elysee Palace. I touched on this issue during President of Russia Vladimir Putin's visit to France. We had a separate conversation with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and Presidential Advisor Emmanuel Bon. I reaffirmed that this attitude towards journalists runs counter to the rules of civilised behaviour as well as many agreements adopted by the OSCE among other organisations. According to them, all citizens of any OSCE country have the right to unimpeded access to information both from inside the country and abroad. The states agreed not to place obstacles in the way of the free flow of information in compliance with these political documents. Unfortunately, our Western colleagues, who will respond ardently to events in Russia related to the regulation of democratic processes, are taking steps in the opposite direction. Some time ago, France adopted a law on elections and covering them, which envisioned a fast-track court procedure involving only one judge without lawyers to decide whether to ban media from covering the election campaign in France, within 48 hours, if a regulator decides that this involves alleged intervention in domestic affairs, without giving any reasons. This is a very nontransparent procedure. This law was highly criticised in France. I hope that now the National Assembly will review possible steps to allow this democratic country to refrain from such undemocratic methods.

France is not the only country with problems like this. Recently the Global Conference for Media Freedom was held in London, but RT was not allowed. The invited Russian representatives were not at a level that implies equality and democratic ways when addressing problems. We ask these questions to the Council of Europe and the OSCE. On a positive note, I would like to say that the OSCE Representative on Freedom of Media, Harlem Desir, (by the way, a French citizen) has been recently paying more attention to providing an equal review of the situations in different OSCE countries. But we still have a lot to do.

Question: What issues on the international human rights agenda is Russia planning to focus on in the activities of the UN Human Rights Council in 2021-2023?

Sergey Lavrov: First we have to be elected to the UN Human Rights Council, because right now we are not a member. We are actively working to be elected for 2021-2023. However, our current observer status allows us to take part in the meetings, work with delegations and promote our initiatives.

We are consistently promoting the rights of national minorities – language and religious rights – in the UN Human Rights Council and other international organisations that work with these issues, primarily the OSCE and the Council of Europe, especially today and in recent years. Our interest was caused by the actions of Ukraine's previous leaders, the Petr Poroshenko regime. With his administration's support, the Verkhovna Rada adopted many laws that flagrantly violated Ukraine's international commitments on ensuring the rights of ethnic minorities and the Ukrainian Constitution. This applies to the law on education, and the law on the Ukrainian language as the state language, which crudely discriminates against any minority language versus Ukrainian. In response to criticism by the Council of Europe and other human rights agencies in Europe and the UN, the Ukraine leadership under Poroshenko began to promise that it would supplement these laws with a provision to exempt the EU languages. If this goes through, the Russian language would be the only one subject to discrimination. Considering this, we urged our EU colleagues to not even review these provocative statements that are literally aimed at bribing the Europeans and meeting their concerns over the use of the Hungarian, Romanian and Polish languages in Ukraine. In this way, Ukraine wants to wash its hands and discriminate against the Russian language, the prevailing language which is spoken by millions in Ukraine alongside with Ukrainian. We will promote any relevant initiatives in the UN General Assembly, its Third Committee that deals with human rights, the OSCE Council of Ministers and the OSCE in general. As for the UN Human Rights Council in 2021-2023, I hope this question will be settled before that, since it is urgent. But if necessary, this issue will be a priority for us in the UN Human Rights Council after, I hope, we are elected.

Question: Some analysts believe that creating the Constitutional Committee on Syria, as important as it is, does not guarantee success. What steps do you think should be taken for this body to function most effectively?

Sergey Lavrov: The Constitutional Committee is called upon to start implementing a critically important provision laid down in UNSC Resolution 2254, namely, to initiate constitutional reform. Like all other countries without exception, we are convinced that this is an integral part of any effort to achieve a sustainable settlement of the Syria crisis. Unfortunately, not everyone likes the fact that the Constitutional Committee is being formed primarily upon the initiative of the Astana troika, which proposed the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi in February 2018 which, in turn, laid the foundation for the efforts to create the Constitutional Committee and outlined the principles for forming it. The decisions taken by the congress were approved by the UN. There are countries which see the efforts around the Syria crisis not as an attempt to calm the situation and to ensure Syria's sovereignty and the right of its people to determine their future, but as an opportunity to carry on their geopolitical games. If our Western colleagues were pursuing goals which were more or less in line with the interests of a settlement, the Constitutional Committee would have become functional in late 2018-early 2019. Despite artificially created obstacles, our Astana format partners - Turkey and Iran - and we are doing our best to make Constitutional Committee membership suitable for everyone. We need to put a couple more people on it and it will become fully operational. Frankly, it is ridiculous to split hairs over a couple of names out of a list of 150 people in a situation where decision-making in this kind of committee (this has already been agreed to) will be based on the principle of consensus or, in case it is impossible to achieve this, on the requirement to obtain 75 per cent of the vote. That is, any Constitutional Committee member, be it from the government, the opposition or civil society, will be able to block unwanted decisions. In such a situation, making a big deal over one or two names is rather an insignificant approach.

You said that, according to some analysts, creating the Constitutional Committee does not guarantee success. I agree. But until we begin, we will not be able to understand how much headway this committee can make in developing constitutional reform that will be generally acceptable to all Syrians. Only those who do nothing never make mistakes. If you are afraid to take important steps, you will not achieve positive results. In this particular case, there is no need to be afraid, because this is provided for by the UN Security Council resolution, which must be implemented.

How do you assess the work to rally international efforts to facilitate the return of Syrian refugees and internally displaced persons? What difficulties are there? How can they be overcome?

Regarding specific steps to facilitate the return of the refugees, the difficulties are mainly related to most Western countries' insufficient efforts to create the conditions on the ground for the return of refugees and displaced persons. Only Russia, and our Indian colleagues and Chinese partners to a certain extent, are actually doing anything. But the West categorically refuses to invest in efforts to bring life back to normal so Syrian citizens can return to their homes, claiming they cannot begin this work until there is clarity in the political process. When that process begins and progresses, they agree to think about how to invest or not invest in facilitating the return of those who had to flee their homes.

At the same time, they deliberately keep the criterion of progress vague enough to be able to further manipulate the issue. We consider this approach to be counterproductive and biased. There are some eloquent examples. First, they say they cannot invest, because it would mean promoting Syria's economic development, and this is not allowed until it is clear how the political process will end. It is forbidden by EU decision, which, as you understand, is unilateral and highly controversial. But the point is, it is not about building factories or other industrial facilities, but rather providing the most basic shelter, water, electricity, basic medical and education services – nothing more. This fits perfectly with the criteria for humanitarian assistance, which is not prohibited even by EU decisions.

Another example: the Americans are working energetically on the eastern bank of the Euphrates, which is not controlled by the Syrian government, trying to play the Kurd card, which naturally causes discontent in Turkey. Turkey and the US are in talks about preventing the Kurds from settling in lands where Arab tribes traditionally lived, as the Americans want. There is a whole tangle of conflicting interests there. But on the eastern bank of the Euphrates, the Americans are not only allowing other countries to invest in building infrastructure, but even stimulate such investment. We see this as an attempt to challenge and question the territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic. Such an attitude, based on blatant double standards, does little to implement UN Security Council resolutions.

The third circumstance that indicates the West's tendency to hamper the return of the refugees was yet another conference on assistance to Syrian refugees in Brussels a few months ago, where it was announced that the participating countries were ready to make voluntary contributions of 7 billion euros. But the lion's share of these amounts is intended to help the countries currently accommodating millions of Syrian refugees. Not to create conditions for their return, but to improve their accommodation in refugee camps in Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon, that is, in fact, to perpetuate the situation with Syrian refugees staying in camps outside their country.

What is the idea behind this strange distribution of resources? Is it possible that our Western colleagues, who just like everybody else must abide by the UN Security Council resolution that provides for the holding of elections, prefer keeping as many Syrian refugees as they can in camps abroad, hoping that there they will vote in the "right" way? I am not saying that this is so – this may be one of the reasons, but it is very difficult to find another reason. But if this is so, it means the goal of achieving peace is substituted by a geopolitical game aimed at achieving the much-hyped regime change. The West has repeatedly resorted to this approach and is still doing so. I do hope that the previous failed attempts to orchestrate such revolutions in the region through outside interference will be a lesson for the West to change its stance.

Many countries understand that the refugee issue needs to be addressed quickly. We are ready to help. Russia is enthusiastically promoting the return of refugees to the Syrian Arab Republic, in particular from Lebanon and Jordan. Our military, deployed there at the invitation of the legitimate government and President Bashar al-Assad, are involved in preparing the necessary conditions in the corresponding communities. We inform the Syrian refugees abroad which territories are suitable for return.

The flow of returnees from Lebanon and Jordan is quite large – more than 1,000 people daily. Since July 2018, about 400,000 people have returned to the Syrian Arab Republic. If we take the entire conflict period since 2011, about 1.5 million refugees have returned. This means that the rhetoric about the Syrian government not doing enough to create conditions for their return is biased and politically motivated. Our Western colleagues have questioned several laws adopted in Syria regarding the property rights of returnees, the criteria on which they can be conscripted for military service and a number of other issues. We have brought to the attention of the Syrian authorities all the comments and issues that international refugee structures had with their legislation, and all the requests and comments are being taken into account in the legislation they adopt. If there are any other factors still preventing the refugees from returning faster, we will work with the Syrian government while keeping in contact with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

Question: The development of ICT is compelling companies and states to deal urgently with both military and civilian security. Every state is developing its own tactic and strategy for cyber security. We understand that countries continuously wage cyberwars, as our international partners have shown more than once. But regardless of their ethnic origin, cyber criminals and cyber terrorists are a global issue. Do you think we should talk about the creation of a global system for information security? What difficulties do countries face when cooperating on this issue?

Sergey Lavrov: This is a very urgent issue and it didn't just appear yesterday. Over the past couple of years it has been significantly aggravated by the attempts to accuse some states, in part, Russia of hacking into US resources during the presidential election. Not a single accusation was confirmed with a convincing fact but this myth continues to circulate in the US and other Western media and is raised in speeches by some Western politicians. All this is taking place against the backdrop of our numerous proposals to set up working groups for a substantive discussion on specific grievances against each other with every Western country, the EU, NATO or any other agency. We also have even more solid grounds to suspect our Western colleagues of paying too much attention to our internet resources. This has been seen more than once. Representatives of the Central Bank of Russia, Sberbank and other government agencies have talked about this.

Many years ago Russia was the first country to raise the issue of international information security at the UN in the context of ICT influence on the military-political security of each UN member. These discussions took place with varying degrees of success. At one time our Western colleagues said it was pointless to review this issue because it could be regulated by the current international law. We didn't agree and quoted specific facts. At one time three or four years ago there was a consensus on adopting a resolution for this. A group of government experts was established. It presented a good report and made proposals on drafting rules of responsible conduct in ICT. At the 73rd UN General Assembly last year, our American colleagues, supported by their closest allies, began to object to the continuation of this work. Their argument was simplistic: Russia is interfering in the elections and other political processes in the Western countries, trying to cover up its unseemly line by promoting ostensibly valid and noble resolutions in the UN. If there is something to discuss, we should sit and discuss it, but it is not proper to accuse someone of non-existent plans. At any rate, the resolution on the responsible behaviour of states in the information space was adopted by an overwhelming majority vote. In accordance with this, a UN General Assembly working group was established. Any member state can become a member of it since it is an open group. It will discuss the substance of the Russian proposals supported by all SCO countries on creating rules of responsible conduct in the information space. In parallel, a US-initiated resolution on creating a limited group of experts was adopted. Its tasks are to determine to what extent the current norms of international law may be applied for regulating the cyberspace. I mentioned that in our opinion additional legal standards should be adopted for this purpose. The West is out to prove that nothing should be done to regulate this area.

You also mentioned cybercrime and cyber-terrorism. Apart from the issues on the security of countries, this is a very urgent problem as well. We are trying to draw everyone's attention to it. Yet another UN General Assembly resolution was adopted at our initiative. It is against cybercrime – terrorism, drug trafficking, money laundering and other violations of the law. This resolution invited all countries to share their opinion on this problem with the UN Secretary-General.

In principle, Russia and many of its partners in the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) suggested that the ITU should regulate the internet on a broader plane many years before this discussion was launched in the UNGA. You understand what I am talking about. We are convinced that the forms and methods of regulating the internet should be accessible, transparent and understandable for all countries. Nobody should have a monopoly on regulating the global web. For the time being this issue is still under discussion. Obviously, there is a small group of countries that objects to these discussions, but they continue nonetheless. This is a very important area of diplomacy.

Question: What is the most valuable and useful piece of advice you have ever received?

Sergey Lavrov:
I don't know exactly which one of all the tips, requests or instances of moral teaching have particularly helped me in my life. Always be honest. Most importantly, do not betray the people you work with or your friends. And then study, study and study.

Question: The Russia-Africa Summit will be held in Sochi on October 24. This is the first event of this level in the history of relations between Russia and Africa. Should we expect a significant breakthrough in relations between Russia and the countries of that region?

Sergey Lavrov: You have, in fact, formulated the answer. Indeed, this is the first Russia-Africa Summit in history. We have had very close and, in many respects, allied relations with most of the African countries during the decolonisation of Africa. The Soviet Union initiated these processes at the UN. We mark the anniversaries of this era, both the ones dedicated to freeing every African country, and the one dedicated to adopting the landmark UNGA document which is the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples. Politicians and lawyers, including judges at the UN International Court of Justice, still refer to it noting that there are several more territories that have not yet been freed from the colonialists as stipulated by the declaration I mention.

For obvious reasons, when the Soviet Union ceased to exist, Russia found itself in a completely different situation with 25 million Russians left abroad overnight; we didn't have properly equipped borders with our neighbours, because we used to be a single state, and there were huge financial debts and many other problems. Of course, relations with many foreign countries have faded into the background compared with the challenges the country had to deal with in order to preserve its statehood. As we regained our statehood and control over the country, and the economy and the social sphere began to develop, Russian businesses began to look at promising projects abroad, and we began to return to Africa. This process has been ongoing for the past 15 years. This return is taking the form of resuming a very close political dialogue, which has always been at a strategic and friendly level, as well as resuming people-to-people, cultural, and educational ties: 15,000 Africans are now studying in Russia, and about a third of them receive scholarships provided by the Russian state. Of course, our return includes the economic sphere as well. Our African partners are interested in Russian business working more actively there. This provides greater competition between the companies from Western countries, China, and Russia. With competition for developing mineral resources in Africa, it is easier and cheaper for our African colleagues to choose partners.

We always try to conduct business - and tell our companies to stick to such behaviour - so as to fully take into account the goals of the African countries' national economies. This applies to the production of hydrocarbons and other mineral resources, as well as energy, including nuclear energy. We are discussing such projects with a number of African countries.

Overall, we are, of course, far from the absolute figures characterising trade and investment cooperation between the African countries and, say, China. However, our trade grew by 17 per cent over the past year (which is a sizable number) to over $20 billion and it continues to grow.

To reflect and consolidate these trends and in order to draw up plans for expanding our partnerships with the African countries, President Putin initiated the Russia-Africa Summit last year during the BRICS summit in Johannesburg. The initiative was strongly supported. It will be implemented under the co-chairmanship of the heads of Russia and Egypt, since this year Egypt is heading the African Union. Over 40 heads of state and government, heads of eight regional and subregional organisations in Africa and the president of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) have already confirmed their participation in the Africa-Russia Summit in Sochi. The summit will be preceded by an economic summit, where the heads of state and government, along with corporate leaders from Russia and Africa, will hold discussions. Then, a political summit will be held on October 24. Documents are still being drafted. More details will be available as the talks are completed.

I think this is a very important event, indeed, which will draw a line under our current stage of partnership and outline ways to deepen it across all areas.

Question: Could the US' withdrawal from the INF Treaty lead to the end of the existing system of maintaining global strategic stability? What steps will Russia take in this context?

Sergey Lavrov: The US terminated the ABM Treaty and now it has walked away from the INF Treaty under a far-fetched pretext. These are done deals. The US has already tested a medium-range ground-based missile using a facility that it claimed was only capable of launching anti-missiles. We said the opposite, and now the Americans have proved that we were right. Their actions show that they do not intend to return to the treaty. Demands and preconditions are being made on what to do with medium- and shorter-range missiles. The main precondition is the participation of the PRC in future talks. China has said that the scale of its nuclear potential is incomparable to the US and Russia's and for this reason its participation cannot be supported. But the US continues to insist on it and asks us to persuade the PRC to take part. We are not going to do this. If the US gets the PRC's consent, we will be ready for talks. But in my opinion compelling Beijing to do this against its will is not right and inappropriate.

There are other nuclear powers. As President Vladimir Putin has said more than once, we are ready to meet in any format. The Nuclear Five format is one of the main ones. We are working on a daily basis in the UN and in other capitals. Depending on the consent of the relevant countries, we are ready to meet in any format. Let me recall that despite the termination of the INF Treaty by the US we have made a very important political gesture. Vladimir Putin said that even though the INF Treaty does not exist, we will only take reflective measures. If the US starts developing relevant weapons we reserve the right to do it as well. If the US tests these weapons, we will have the right to follow suit. But the President emphasised that we will not deploy medium- and shorter-range missiles in regions where US made weapons systems are not deployed. If the US does not deploy them in Europe or Asia we will not do it either. This is a serious proposal, in fact, it is a moratorium that we have announced for NATO. We have proposed that NATO join it collectively. For now, they haven't expressed their consent.

As for the termination of the INF Treaty, does it mean the complete end to arms control? We still have the START III Treaty, that is, the 2010 Treaty on Strategic Offensive Arms that will expire in February 2021. The Russian Federation has already expressed its willingness to extend it for up to five years. We are waiting for Washington's response. President Vladimir Putin spoke about this with US President Donald Trump when they met at the G20 summit in Osaka last June. We have not yet received a response. There are certain questions regarding the implementation of this treaty today. I think dialogue on this important issue is necessary in any event. We would prefer its extension for another five years to be the main goal of the dialogue.

Question: I am an author at MGIMO's student publication Mezhdunarodnik. This year, the first children of the 21st century, born in 2001, are MGIMO students for the first time. Do you think international relations will improve with the advent of a new generation of diplomats, or will past grievances and squabbling with other countries remain as they are?

Sergey Lavrov: Mr Torkunov and I also worked at Mezhdunarodnik, but back then it was not a print publication (not in the sense of "unprintable"), but a hand-made one. We literally laid out a dozen sheets of Whatman paper; we used gouache and ink; we wrote articles, poems and songs by hand and drew caricatures. Thank you for keeping Mezhdunarodnik alive. This is a very good student project.

Opinions vary with regard to the children of the new century and to what extent their arrival at the university, and then in politics, business and other areas of life will affect relations between countries. One opinion is often expressed by some political scientists who call themselves realists, not wanting to be known as pessimists. It consists of the fact that a generation that has not only not seen war, but for the most part was no longer brought up by those who survived the war, will lose the fear of war and of the negative phenomena that are piling up in international life. Primarily, this concerns the real threat of another arms race, which they are trying to impose on us, but in which we will not get involved, as President Putin has said on several occasions.

This point of view is legitimate. Therefore, it is important to preserve historical memory, not to allow it to be buried, or to impose an interpretation of history that is openly designed to humiliate our people and their achievements during the Great Patriotic War (a high-profile controversial discussion is underway both in our country and in the West). But the facts are on our side. When we defend our point of view on the history of World War II, we are not hiding a single fact. Our Western colleagues, as we saw from events in Warsaw in connection with the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II, are trying to selectively present facts to their people and public opinion, keeping silent about the chapters that do not reflect well on either the Western countries, or on Poland. This is a problem. A solution can be found in open and candid discussions between historians. The politicians must be guided by international legal frameworks and standards which can be found, first, in the verdict of the Nuremberg Tribunal, which clearly defined who should be punished for the WWII atrocities. Second, these standards are stipulated by the UN Charter, which in one article states that everything that was done by the victorious powers is not subject to revision. This is one group of opinions.

Another group of opinions, which does not contradict the logic of the first, is that the new generation which is free of the confrontational manifestations of the Cold War, which accumulated in recent years in relations between Russia and the West, will be better positioned to rise above these disagreements and focus on ensuring that all young people, who are becoming more mature and entering adulthood, put common threats to humanity at the forefront. This includes climate warming (it is clear to everyone that something has to be done about this), terrorism, drugs, which is taking vast numbers of young lives and other forms of organised crime, as well as food security. No wonder the 16-year-old girl from Sweden, Greta Thunberg, is promoting her fight for a clean climate. Perhaps, a young and responsible citizen of our planet will start a movement for peace against the confrontation that is now hurting everyone.

If you have initiatives like this, please do not hide them from the public; express them openly

I will end my remarks with what I mentioned at the beginning. The fact that students from many foreign countries are here creates a small but very important element of efforts to build mutual understanding between people. Where there's mutual understanding between people, it will be easier for nations to agree.

Thank you.
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's interview with the MIC Izvestia multimedia information centre Vladivostok, September 4, 2019 (Интервью Министра иностранных дел России С.В.Лаврова МИЦ «Известия», Владивосток, 4 сентября 2019 года) / Russia, September, 2019
Keywords: sergey_lavrov, quotation

Question: Is it possible to say that at this stage, international relations have reached a kind of balance, even though unstable and in the negative zone?

Sergey Lavrov: Much has been said about this, such as hitting the bottom and having the bottom knocked out...

I would say that international relations continue to get steadily worse. It is a process that cannot be stopped yet. You see how our American colleagues along with their closest, most loyal allies are actually aiming to undermine the entire international legal system that developed after the Second World War, including the strategic stability and arms control agreements reached over the past decades. In the early 2000s, the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty was unilaterally terminated. The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty has just fallen apart, and it is not clear whether the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START-3 or New START) will get extended. In general, the international law institutions that were created after the Second World War and developed on the basis of universal agreements are now undergoing the most severe trials. The very term "international law" is used less and less often by our Western colleagues. They prefer to talk about some "rule-based order." As practice shows, they invent these rules on the spot to suit their current needs and try to convince everyone else that these are multilateral decisions that everyone must follow.

What we probably need to do now is to look to the remaining supports, first of all the UN Charter. It must be defended by all means. I would like to point out the stabilising effect of the G20, which represents all the key regions of the world and the global centres of economic and financial influence. The G20 reflects the recognition of the new polycentric world order. It is against these realities that the West is fighting in a bid to maintain the domination it has enjoyed for the past 500 years, when it called the tune in all international affairs. The very fact that the West has taken an interest in the G20 shows that it has to accept this new reality. The G20 members do not communicate through ultimatums or unilateral demands, but on the basis of mutual respect and search for a balance of interests. I would like to note that the organisations in which Russia participates, such as BRICS and the SCO, work in the same way. Overall in the Eurasian space, we are guided by the same principles as we work to promote what President of Russia Vladimir Putin designated as the Greater Eurasian Partnership with the participation of the EAEU, SCO and ASEAN. The processes are developing; they are not consistent, but we will make sure that they move along the lines of mutual consideration for the interests of all participants in international dialogue.

Question: We repeatedly witness some of our partners unilaterally violating the rules established by international organisations like the WTO, for example. Various barriers and duties are being introduced. Isn't it time to reorganise these institutions with certain reforms?

Sergey Lavrov: Naturally, no organisation can remain "frozen" in its original form, it has to respond to the imperatives of time and the real changes occurring in the world, be it the invention of new technologies or the emergence of new geopolitical realities. In this context, the backbone of the entire system of international relations is the UN Charter. The basic, "core" principles enshrined in the charter, such as respect for the sovereign equality of states, non-interference in their internal affairs, the peaceful resolution of conflicts, the unacceptability of the threat of force and its use, respect for the right of all nations to independently choose their development path, are not subject to changes and revision, like the Ten Commandments. However, all conventions in different areas of human activity that rely on these principles can evolve. There have been a number of relevant examples lately at the UN itself. For instance, a special Peacebuilding Commission – at the juncture of peacekeeping and creating conditions for normalising the socioeconomic situation in a country exiting a crisis was set up in addition to the bodies established under the UN Charter, in view of the interdependence between conflict resolution efforts and the subsequent return to peaceful life.

A while back, the UN Human Rights Committee was set up (previously there was a Human Rights Commission) on radically new principles, which ensure the consistent review of the human rights situation in each country. There are no privileged participants in this respect that are exempt from being discussed in terms of human rights. A number of other new organisations are being established, including some to combat climate change. This is, in part, a response to the natural processes that are occurring in the world and that pose grave challenges for all countries without exception.

The main body – the UN Security Council – certainly also needs reforming. This was recognised a long time ago. A negotiating process was launched with all UN member states, a special entity was established within the UN General Assembly. Without doubt, the end product of these talks should reflect the changed geopolitical reality. This reality involves the emergence of new centres of economic growth and financial power. They boast growing political influence. They must be able to have more opportunities to contribute to working out common decisions on key issues of peace and security. In this context, I will note that the key drawback of the current composition of the UN Security Council is the apparent underrepresentation of the developing regions of the world – Asia, Africa and Latin America. Thus, the key element of our position is the need to expand the UN Security Council primarily with candidates from these three regions of the developing world. Asia offers India as a candidate nation and Latin America – Brazil. We believe both these nations have every right to increase their representation in the UN, including in its Security Council. Of course, it is necessary to similarly raise the representation level of the African continent along with meeting the wishes of the Asian and Latin American regions.

The World Trade Organisation that you mentioned is also going through serious trials, which reflect the same attempts to impose some new rules instead of the universally agreed upon standards. These attempts include illegitimate sanctions that run contrary to WTO commitments. As you know, the sanctions announced against Russia by the US, Europe, Japan and other Western countries do not fit into WTO principles. Trade wars, ongoing mutual tariff increases – this is a chain reaction that concerns not only the immediate parties to the conflict but also the rest of the world, because the world economy suffers from the trade war between the largest economies – the United States and China. We need to go back to the principles the WTO was founded on. These principles were a subject of many years of negotiation as to the conditions for each country to join the organisation. This must be respected.

The WTO has a mechanism for dispute resolution. While being a leader in starting trade wars and imposing conditions favourable for itself on its partners, the United States still does not reject the need to invoke this mechanism for settling disputes. This gives some hope. However, the negotiating venues are in for a difficult struggle.

Question: Can you say in these complicated circumstances who is Russia's key partner and who is its main opponent?

Sergey Lavrov: There is always a temptation to find simple answers to difficult questions. This is understandable: tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are.

We have many partners. I will not name any countries, because we don't want anyone to feel offended. Our relations are closer and more confidential with some countries, stable with others and consistently negative with still others, although we never forget about the importance of communicating with each other. We will have to communicate even with a country that we cannot develop close cooperation with while problems are piling up, especially if it is a large country with a certain standing on the modern international stage. You need to reach agreements. By and large, this is what diplomacy is about – the ability to reach agreements.

We are always ready to communicate with any country without exception, provided our partner is willing to talk with us on the basis of mutual respect and equality, not only because they want to send a certain signal to the public ahead of elections but so as to be able to coordinate mutually acceptable agreements based on the balance of interests. This is the key to any international efforts.

I believe that the main danger in international affairs is some countries' inability to see the global threats coming from the new challenges such as terrorism, organised crime, uncontrolled migration, humankind's inability to ensure food security, climate change and so on. Industrial accidents and natural disasters wipe out state borders. You cannot remain immune to the disasters that hit different parts of the world, be it global warming or poverty. The root cause of the migration wave which has swept over Europe is the lack of jobs and any other prospects, especially for young people in the Middle East and North Africa. You cannot block out these problems, and you can deal with them only by pooling efforts. Therefore, when some of our colleagues, primarily in the West, act exclusively from self-centred or geopolitical considerations, for example, by using extremists in the Middle East to overthrow any regimes to win political points for future elections, that is a threat. When they do not understand the global nature of modern challenges, that is a threat. This is why we are working persistently with our partners at the CSTO, the CIS, the SCO, BRICS and the G20 to promote the importance of creating truly collegiate structures that would find the most effective solutions possible to all these threats.

Regarding the fight against terrorism, addressing the UN General Assembly session back in 2015, President Putin proposed abandoning the policy of double standards and any attempts to divide terrorists into the "good" ones, who can be used, and the "bad" ones, who must be eliminated. He also called for creating a really broad anti-terrorist front under the UN auspices. Certain progress has been made towards this goal. The necessary mechanisms are being created at the UN and at regional organisations. But the path to open, honest and trust-based operations without double standards is very long. We continue our efforts towards this.

Question: Earlier in our conversation, you mentioned the strategic arms treaties between the United States and Russia. What is the future of these agreements? Will a third party be joining these treaties as Washington insists on?

Sergey Lavrov: With regard to the future of these treaties, some are already history, such as the ABM Treaty or the INF Treaty. Now, we can talk seriously only about the future of the New START Treaty, which expires in February 2021.

We, including President Putin, have publicly and repeatedly urged the United States to begin to work on extending this treaty for a five-year term, as provided for in the text of the document. The response we are getting from the United States is not very clear. They either say that renewing the treaty is unlikely, or that it is impossible to do so given the new weapons, primarily the hypersonic weapons, which President Putin announced in his Address to the Federal Assembly last year.

However, those who are familiar with the text of this treaty are aware of the fact that it does not cover these weapons. If the United States is interested in discussing aspects of strategic stability and arms control that are beyond the scope of the treaty, it should have accepted the invitations that we have extended many times and for some time now, and to resume a regular strategic stability dialogue covering the offensive and defensive aspects. This is a very important balance reflected in the START Treaty, which was exposed to major risk after the United States withdrew from the ABM Treaty. In other words, anything can be discussed. This is what the dialogue on strategic stability is for. It can be used to raise any issues that pose a threat to strategic stability, for which the United States and Russia bear most responsibility.

You mentioned the START-3. We have repeatedly emphasised that new topics that are not covered by this treaty should probably be discussed. But at the same time, the treaty itself must not be jeopardised, because if it expires, there will be a total vacuum in arms control, and there will be no core document to rely on. The United States is proposing the inclusion of China in this process. Beijing has repeatedly officially stated its position on this matter: they do not plan to do so. They cite the incomparable size of the nuclear potential of Russia, the United States and China. However, the United States, while continuing to mention China as a likely participant of future talks that could save the START Treaty, for some reason fails to mention its allies – Britain and France – which are also nuclear powers.

To reiterate, our position is that, before we identify ways to promote a dialogue on maintaining strategic stability in a new situation, we do not have the right and cannot afford the luxury of losing the START-3 Treaty. We must make sure that it remains valid as we conduct discussions on strategic stability, which of course, must cover each nuclear country's matters of concern.

Question: Am I right in thinking that this uncertain position of Washington's is largely associated with the internal political processes underway in the United States, and is part of these processes? So how do we go about building a dialogue with Washington or restoring US-Russian relations? Do they need to be restored to their former level?

Sergey Lavrov: Bilateral relations have indeed been undermined, and this process, unfortunately, continues. We are not trying to force our friendship on anyone. But we have proposed ways to fix this relationship, including during meetings between the Presidents and during my meetings with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, as well as with US National Security Advisor John Bolton. These proposals cover the spheres of strategic stability, economic, trade, and investment cooperation, as well as interaction between political scientists and civil society experts on issues that are important for relations between Moscow and Washington. We have many common interests in the world, many common responsibilities, including, as I said, ensuring international peace and security. Undoubtedly, the potential contacts in trade, in the economy, culture and the humanitarian sphere as a whole would benefit our peoples and the entire international community.

You are absolutely right. Unfortunately, despite the intentions repeatedly confirmed by US President Donald Trump and his team to bring relations with Russia back to normal, nothing is actually happening at the tangible level. The dynamics remains "bearish." Our American colleagues continue to impose unilateral sanctions, without even bothering to present any arguments, out of the blue. This contradicts the attitude that the President of the United States is constantly projecting.

It is also clear, and you said quite correctly that US relations with Russia have become hostage to internal American inter-party contradictions. Outgoing US President Barack Obama, frustrated because the Republican candidate defeated the Democratic Party in full accordance with the US electoral system, decided to slam the door and ruin or at least severely undermine any mechanisms or channels of interaction between Moscow and Washington created by his predecessors and himself at the initial stage of his own presidency. The fury of those trying to accuse the US Administration of clandestine ties with Russia, to find reasons to start the process of Donald Trump's impeachment shows that, despite the negative conclusions made by the Mueller commission, the Democrats have not backed down from playing the Russia card and are going to use it in the next election campaign, preparing for the presidential election in 2020.

This is sad and regrettable. We are always ready to resume bilateral relations in any formats the US is comfortable with at this stage. I must note that at the very least, our antiterrorist dialogue is resuming in some way. We have long been proposing launching a dialogue on cybersecurity with the Americans, because in this sphere, the number of myths is simply incredible. But so far, there has been no intelligible reaction. It's good that humanitarian ties are developing – the Fort Ross Dialogue, aimed at strengthening the memory of our shared history in California, when Russian immigrants helped develop that part of the United States. As for strategic stability (and this is probably the most important topic), no stable dialogue has been established apart from some sporadic contacts. This is the most important thing now.

Question: On October 1, the People's Republic of China will celebrate its 70th anniversary. Some sceptics believe that modern China plays the role of the elder brother to Russia. Is it appropriate to use such designations in international relations and in Russian-Chinese relations?

Sergey Lavrov: I think it is wrong to describe in this vein relations between Russia and China and in general any relations between two countries, at least those in which Russia takes part. We have emphasised many times in our doctrines and in practice that we favour relations between sovereign states that are based on mutual benefit rather than domination of one side, regardless of whether this is China or some small country.

There is always a wish to derive some benefit but if you want to derive it from relations with your partner you should realise what you can give in exchange. In that case you should look for compromise and consensus. This is exactly how our relations with China are developing. They have reached a truly strategic level. These are relations of multi-faceted partnership and strategic cooperation. Their mutually beneficial nature is not only set out in numerous treaties and other documents but is being consistently implemented in practice.

Let me repeat that the same principles form the backbone of China's foreign policy. Out of the nuclear powers, only Russia and China initiate the protection of the fundamental principles of the UN Charter. This movement is gaining strength and we will actively continue it. It seems to me that our companies, citizens, corporations and private companies that are taking part in cooperation with China obviously derive benefits from it, just as the Chinese participants of this process.
Event Report | Foreign policy under Xi Xinping (Отчет о мероприятии | Внешняя политика при Си Цзиньпине) / India, September, 2019
Keywords: expert_opinion, xi_xinping
Author: Animesh Jain

The event revolved around the current Chinese foreign policy in south-east Asia, its BRI project and relations with the Indo-Pacific countries and how the world views China under these geopolitical scenarios and Chinese reactions towards them.

Under President Xi Jinping, China's foreign policy ambitions have expanded on a global scale. China has invested heavily in global infrastructure, working towards economic integration, investing in strategic locations for securing its trade and security interests. Considering such geopolitical moves under the current Chinese leadership, ORF had organized an interaction on the 'Changes in China's Foreign Policy under President Xi Jinping'. The discussion was led by Professor Chen Ding Ding, Jinan University and President of Intelligentsia Institute. The interaction was moderated by Prof. Harsh V Pant, Director, Studies and Head, Strategic Studies Program. It was held at the ORF Conference Hall, New Delhi on 13th August. The discussion began with Prof. Harsh Pant introducing the current Chinese foreign policy in south-east Asia, its BRI project and relations with the Indo-Pacific countries. Leading towards an important question regarding how the world views China under these geopolitical scenarios and Chinese reactions towards them.

Changes in China and the World

Professor Chen, began by giving the background of China's diplomatic changes in President Xi's era. He highlighted the 'Changes in China' and how it has become the biggest developing country in the world, its unprecedented economic growth, development in Science and Technology and how China has successfully worked towards its population's well-being; In support of his arguments Prof Chen provided some very nuanced figures to the audience. He put forward that how within 15-20 years China's GDP is going to surpass US's GDP and three Asian economies i.e. China, Japan and India will be among the world's top 5 economies. He then moved to the changes happening in the world and the crisis in the current international order – the changes in the world political landscape, process of globalisation, changes in technology and industry and in the global governance system. According to him, pressure on the current international order began from the 2008 economic crisis. China sees these fundamental changes both as opportunity and challenge. He points out Xi's address to the 'Central Meeting on Foreign Affairs work 2018' where Xi said that, at present, China is in an optimal period of development and the world is undergoing changes unprecedented in over a century. There is chaos and uncertainty and China's leadership is seeing this as an opportunity.

US, China and developing world

He pointed out that US is in a relative decline, but it is not an absolute decline and no one in China believes that US will go into a total decline. But, due to the growing economies, the developing countries have gained more decision making power in global governance. The Asian, South-Asian and African countries have more important roles to play. Owing to a new international security environment, and the fading support from the developed world is the biggest challenge that the current order is facing. He then discussed what has changed in the past 5-6 years within. According to him, the fundamental shift of the 2008 crisis gave China the chance to maintain a certain degree of counter-balance against the US, as China not only survived the crisis but also continued to grow. It is not only about the change in leadership in 2012, but China's unique form of great power diplomacy with its own characteristics have developed an all-round, multi-tiered and three dimensional diplomatic deployment that has created a favourable external condition for its development. AIIB, BRI, Silk Road Fund, and the recently held summits of G20, BRICS and CICA in China, has enabled China to actively promote reformation in global governance.

Domestic Development and Leadership

According to him, China had officially entered the 'new era' by preferring domestic development, a two-stage strategy, till 2035 – catching up with the previous numbers and domestic development, to become a modernised, military, soft-power. China has a very ambitious leadership and the pressing domestic issues are more important than external issues for them because the victimization approach is very deep in China. The leadership takes different tactics, which is making things happen but at the same time is also uncertain about many issues. There is no grand geopolitical plan in China, but there are going to be more Chinese led plans, instead of following or reacting to other's plan. For China the 1st phase of BRI was easy, but the 2nd phase is going to be much more difficult and challenging.According to him there is going to be new strategic framework and new grand strategies that will stay with us in future, because of the current global uncertainties. China does not want to overthrow the current global order, as it has benefited a lot from it, but there is a process of reform that needs to be started and these radical reforms will be started by China. But according to him , it is still too early to talk about China being a global leader, at least not until 2049, till it becomes the biggest economy and a big tech power. China does not want to rely on brutal hard power, but on institutions and soft power.He concluded by saying that, 'Competitive relationship' is the new normal of world politics today. And there is a new form of great power relations that China wants to create, based on two principals: first, incremental transformation not radical and, second, collective efforts which are all-inclusive. Finally, the talk was concluded with a fruitful Q&A session where important questions regarding power identity, Sino-Indian relations, boundary issues, trade war, Hong Kong protest and Huawei were discussed. The talk was summarised and wrapped up by Prof. Harsh V. Pant.
World of work
Social policy, trade unions, actions
BRICS countries to strengthen technology cooperation (Страны БРИКС укрепляют технологическое сотрудничество) / China, September, 2019
Keywords: innovations, cooperation

KUNMING, Sept. 3 (Xinhua) -- BRICS countries are stepping up technology transfer and transformation, according to a conference held on Tuesday by the BRICS Technology Transfer Center in Kunming, capital of southwest China's Yunnan Province.

Technological innovation and transfer experts from BRICS and south and southeast Asian countries as well as scholars of key fields including biomedicine, clean energy, modern agriculture and digital economy attended the conference.

Representatives from enterprises, universities and research institutes in 11 countries and regions including the BRICS members held discussions on seeking closer international technology cooperation.

A display and trading system for international technology transfer was launched on the same day. A high-end forum will also be held during the conference.

Eighteen percent of global GDP and 17 percent of R&D spendings come from BRICS countries, which account for 42 percent of the world's population, said Yao Weike, president of the China Association for International Science and Technology Cooperation.

The BRICS Technology Transfer Center was set up in Kunming in 2018 to promote industrial transformation of advanced innovations. Enditem
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