The Indo-Pacific: Outlines of a Forming Region

Boris M. Afonin

Japan’s Foreign Policy in the Asia-Pacific Region

The article analyzes Japan’s foreign relations with neighboring countries such as China, the Republic of Korea, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Russia, as well as with the United States, with which Japan has maintained close relations throughout the post-war years. Allied, trading, economic, cultural and other ties are established between these countries based on various bilateral relations. However, each of countries pursues its own goals and objectives. The Asia-Pacific Region (APR) in the 19th century became one of the centers of geopolitical interests of the leading global powers. For a long time, there was a complicated international situation here, wars and armed countries repeatedly broke out, and tension remained on the borders of countries. And now the area is volatile. Japan is involved in a territorial dispute with Russia, China, the Republic of Korea. A tense situation developed between the two Korean states on the Korean Peninsula. The North Korea is working hard on its nuclear missile program, which cannot but cause concern in neighboring countries. In recent years, rivalry between the United States and China has intensified, there is a struggle for geopolitical influence in the Asia-Pacific region, the situation around Taiwan, which China considers an integral part of its territory, has escalated. Due to the events in the Ukraine and NATO’s approach to Russia’s borders, the international situational in Europe has sharply worsened. This had a negative impact on the situation in the Asia-Pacific region. Under the circumstances, the Japanese Government launched active diplomacy, started to adjust its foreign policy with neighboring countries, taking sides with United States and the countries of the European Union. Conclusion is drawn at the end of the article: the tension situation in Europe include in APR.

Keywords: Japan, USA, the East Asia countries, Asia-Pacific region, Russia, territorial dispute, geopolitics.

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Vitaliy E. Boldyrev

Indo-Pacific Region: designation of a metaregion or creation of a conjunctural narrative?

The paper is devoted to prospects for the Indo-Pacific forming. According to research tradition key accent in investigation had been made on analysis of national strategies as combinations of visions, reactions and acts which determine long-term behaviour of key states. Their strategies had been divided into three groups. The ones developed by Japan, India and Australia are exclusively regional. French and Indonesian Indo-Pacific strategies served as fundament of ASEAN’s EU’s ones. US and British strategies had been developed as parts of their global strategies. Examination of strategical visions let to isolate that the governments follow different principles, unity in defining of regional composition states’ roles, identification of partners and opponents as well as the regional core and periphery are absent. It provoked origin of several conjuncture dividing lines strengthened by cultural foundations. It let to characterize the Indo-Pacific as metaregion as interpretation appeared in conscience of a vast geographical space which is a consequence of the region perception in context of domestic and foreign policy by means of the ones government tries to realize its interpretation in practice. This posture impedes the forming of unified Indo-Pacific region.

Keywords: The Indo-Pacific, India, USA, Indonesia, Japan, European Union, narrative, strategy, metaregion.

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Andrey B. Volynchuk

Indo-Pacific: Towards Regionalization

The article presents the author’s vision of the reasons for the activation of the ideas of regionalism in relation to world politics. There is no doubt that in modern conditions the model of the world order is increasingly taking on a regionalist form, i.e. the architecture of the world is represented by a certain number of regions that are in a wide range of relationships with each other and formed by individual countries, as a rule, on a geographical basis. Moreover, there is a high probability that one of the features of the transformation of the world order is “total regionalization”. Conventionally, the end point of the formation of the new world order will be the division of the geographic and political space of the earth into regions, and not into countries and their alliances. The revival of regionalism in world politics and practice, by and large, is associated with the rapid economic and political ascent of Asia. Newly industrialized countries — Asian “tigers” and “dragons” — at one time initiated the appearance in scientific and expert discussions, and then in the practice of international relations of the term Asia-Pacific region. Today, the growth of the global importance of the countries of South and Southeast Asia and their desire for mutually beneficial multilateral cooperation on issues of mutual strategic interest, brings the concept of the Indo-Pacific Region to the forefront. In his study, based on the provisions of the theory of new regionalism, the author analyzes the processes of regional formation and regionalization in the Indo-Pacific. Within the framework of theoretical reflections, an attempt is made to answer the question — is it possible to detect signs of the formation of a single political and geographical space — a region in the entire set of interstate interactions on the shores of the Indian and Pacific Oceans?

Keywords: Indo-Pacific, Indo-Pacific region, theories of new regionalism, regionalization, regional formation, region, USA, China.

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Sergey K. Pestsov

Indo-Pacific: Geopolitics Versus Geoeconomics

Interest in the Indo-Pacific region has grown markedly in recent years as more and more states demonstrate their willingness to accept it as a conceptual framework that determines their foreign policy and security strategies. Nevertheless, the prospects and possibilities of translating this idea into practice still face doubts and even open criticism. In the latter case, conclusions are sometimes drawn from comparing the strengths and weaknesses of the IPR with competing ones, such as China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) or already existing — Asia-Pacific (APR) — regional projects. Such comparisons are based on the arbitrary assignment of these regional initiatives to different categories, geopolitics in the case of the IPR and geoeconomics, when considering the BRI or the Asia-Pacific. The results obtained, as well as this approach to comparison itself, raise many questions. In order to answer some of them, this paper, based on the conceptual distinction between geopolitics and geoeconomics, explores the rational economic considerations on which the idea of ​​the Indo-Pacific is based, ascertaining how geopolitical motives prevail in this case over geoeconomics motives.

Keywords: geopolitics, geoeconomics, geostrategy, Indo-Pacific, Belt and Road Initiative, Asia-Pacific, regional security, economic cooperation, regional institutions.

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Vladimir V. Kozhevnikov

Is It Possible to Improve Russian-Japanese Relations?

The article analyzes Russian-Japanese relations, which sharply worsened in 2022. As you know, Japan has imposed sanctions against the top leadership of the Russian Federation, and in general, international relations experts already call the number of restrictions imposed by Tokyo a record one. According to the author, one of the reasons for the negative assessment of Russia’s actions in Ukraine is that Japan extrapolates them to the problem of China in relation to Taiwan. At the same time, the article notes that the Japanese establishment and society have a negative attitude towards Russian policy and support sanctions — according to recent polls, about 85% of the Japanese population adheres to this position, as a result of which the Fumio Kishida administration, which has chosen a tough course towards the Russian Federation, began to use more support from the citizens of the country. The subsequent reaction of the Russian Federation, which turned out to be adequate to the current situation, was considered: first, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced that Russia was refusing to negotiate a peace treaty with Japan, after which Japan was included in the list of “unfriendly states”. The author concludes that in order to restore a normal dialogue, at least a cessation of hostilities and a de-escalation of the conflict around Ukraine, as well as a change in rhetoric by the Japanese side, are necessary. At the same time, the Russian leadership should not get hung up on the problem of a peace treaty, as it was before, and insist on establishing normal good-neighborly relations with Japan without any conditions.

Keywords: Russian-Japanese relations, President V.V. Putin, Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, Japanese sanctions against Russia, Russia’s refusal to negotiate a peace treaty.

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Anna V. Simonenok

Ukrainian Conflict: a View from Thailand

The article is devoted to the analysis of Thailand’s attitude to Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine. To do this, the author examines the official point of view on the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, the positions of the main political parties, the opinions of experts, the rhetoric of popular media, and also identifies the main trends in public opinion. The study showed the ambiguity of the attitude of Thais to the Ukrainian crisis. The neutral position of the Thai government does not find unequivocal support in the Thai media, many of which are the conductors of liberal ideas and Western values. The ambiguous attitude of the Thai society to the special military operation of Russia is explained by the influence of various political views and ideological currents on the Thai public consciousness. This creates conditions for the formation of polar points of view on Ukrainian events. The main dividing line runs along the axis “support — not support” for Ukraine, while non-support for Ukraine does not always mean support for Russia. Approval/disapproval of one of the parties to the conflict, in part, correlates with the political, ideological preferences of the Thais. Liberal democrats, as a rule, support Ukraine, conservative monarchists do not consider it unequivocally right and recognize that Russia had valid reasons to launch a military operation. At the same time, there is no sharp polarization of views on the Ukrainian crisis in Thailand. A significant part of society adheres to a neutral position, which, on the one hand, is explained by the peculiarities of the mentality and national qualities of the Thais (calmness, moderation, non-aggression, compromise), and on the other hand, reflects their low interest in geopolitics.

Keywords: Russian-Ukrainian conflict, Thailand, public opinion, official position, Thai media, Thai experts.

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Ethnic Issues in China

Ivan V. Stavrov

Legislative Implementation of Ethnopolitics and Regional Ethnic Autonomy in the PRC

This article is a review of the history of legislative initiatives of the party-state leadership of the PRC with regard to the implementation of ethnonational policy. The purpose of the work is to analyze the evolution of the legislative component of the implementation of ethnopolitics in the PRC, to study the development of the institution of regional ethnic autonomy. As a result of the analysis the author came to the following conclusion. The legislative regulation of the national policy has not been completed by now. At the first stage of ethno-legal construction the CCP, copying the “Soviet model”, used the slogan of ethnic self-determination. The use of this slogan was a tactical move of the CCP in the struggle for power. At the first session of the PPCC, a unitary type of state system was adopted, and the self-determination of ethnic minorities could only take place in the form of regional ethnic autonomy. One of the directions of the ethnic policy was ethno-legal construction, which was to consolidate the line of the party and the state in this matter. Legislative and other acts objectively promoted the creation of equal relations between all nationalities of the country. For the first time, China exercised the right to adopt local autonomy legislation to regulate ethnic relations and economic, social and cultural development as they relate to local conditions. Nevertheless, the regulations also contained certain shortcomings that contributed to the destabilization of ethnic relations, which manifested itself in the period of “disintegration”. From the late 1970s and early 1980s a new stage of nation-building began. The new Constitution and the Law on Regional Ethnic Autonomy consolidated the party’s course of “four modernizations”. Despite the difficulties in implementing the provisions of the said documents, they created the basis for the development of local self-government of non-Han Chinese, the growth of the economy and the people’s welfare. The conditions were created for the development of the culture of the national districts of the country.

Keywords: PRC history, ethnopolitics, regional ethnic autonomy, interethnic relations, policy of reform and opening up.

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Tsyden S. Ochirov

Subad B. Dashieva

Spiritual Culture of the Orochons: Chinese Historiography

The article provides a review and analysis of the scientific works of Chinese scientists who studied the spiritual culture of the Orochons in the 20th—21st centuries. The scientific works of Jiang Songnian and Wang Haijing, which laid the foundation for further research into the tradition and culture of the Orochons, are described; Qiu Pu, who raised the bar for the study of Orochon folklore to a scientific level; Sui Shujin and Batu Bayan, who analyzed the results of many years of collecting materials on Orochon folklore and their works formed the basis for interpreting the spiritual culture of the small peoples of Northeast China; Fu Yuguang, who raised the question of the historical significance of the traditional beliefs of the Orochons in the development of the spirituality of the northern peoples of China; Li Wenxiu, who studied the decline and rise of shamanism among the ethnic minorities of Hulunbuir against the background of the history of China’s development in the 20th century. Each of them made a huge contribution to the development of the study of the spiritual culture of the Orochons. Particular attention is paid to the historiography of folk art and beliefs of the Orochon people in Chinese science. The results obtained showed that in Chinese historiography, in general, the characteristic features of the spiritual culture of the Orochons were revealed, which has its own identity in relation not only to other national minorities of Northeast China, but also to the Tungus-Manchu peoples of Inner Mongolia and the province of Heilongjiang.

Keywords: China, Heilongjiang, Hulunbuir, Orochons, spiritual culture, folklore, historiography.

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China: History and Present

Sergey Yu. Vradiy

Chinese Eastern Railway in the Development of Russia Far East and Northeastern China

Russia and China, which were keen to protect their own borders and maintain the status quo in the Far East, came to an agreement to conclude an alliance treaty in the early 1890s. The tsarist government, by the initiative of Minister of Finance, Sergey Witte, was brewing an ambitious geopolitical agenda that envisaged the consolidation of Russian possessions in the Far East and Russia’s dominance in the region, including the establishment of a steady railway connection with the central parts of the country. The Middle Kingdom, unable to withstand the military pressure of the Land of the Rising Sun, was looking for a strategic ally to counterbalance the Japanese pressure. As a result, the Qing rulers sought an alliance with Russia, despite the realization of a potential partner’s ambitious plans for active economic expansion in the Far East. The Sino-Russian Treaty of Alliance due to the joint efforts of the two governments was signed in May 1896. The treaty included permission for the construction of the Chinese Eastern Railway in Manchuria to Vladivostok with the right of redemption by Peking. The paper provides a brief comparative analysis of the political and economic impact of the construction of the Chinese Eastern Railway on the development of the Russian Far East and North-Eastern China in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Keywords: Far-Eastern Russia, North-Eastern China, Chinese Eastern Railway.

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Galina V. Kondratenko

A Brief Review of the English-Language Studies on the Phenomenon of “New Urban Poverty” in China and the Dibao Program

The article provides an overview of research on the new urban poverty and policies that are aimed at solving this problem, in particular the dibao (guaranteed living wage) program. The experience of Chinese reforms has shown that economic development and income growth for some groups of the population does not entail the solution of social problems, and sometimes leads to the emergence of new ones. The reform of the public sector and the release of a large number of workers led to the emergence of new poverty in the cities and the non-state sector was unable to absorb such a number of unemployed and guarantee them social security. Therefore, the government was forced to introduce new programs to guarantee a living wage (dibao), which were supposed to change the situation. Initially, the discourse regarding dibao developed in a positive tone. It was an allowance for the poorest, it was a program that made it possible to continue reforms in the city, and, in addition, the government managed to create a tool for measuring the quality of life in the regions, since the poverty line was set by local authorities and they received targeted subsidies. But gradually, negative assessments of this social assistance program began to appear. Firstly, they began to point out its limited nature — it covered only a quarter of the needy population, insufficient funds were allocated for it, and it excluded migrants who lived in the settlement for more than six months. Second, receiving dibao tied to refusing to work (other than community service) led to stigmatization of recipients and limited access to social services.

Keywords: new urban poverty in China, public sector reform, dibao, poverty line.

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