by Pepe Escobar (cross-posted with the Asia Times by special agreement with the author)
The Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok has become a crucial part of strategic integration between China, Russia and other countries in northeast Asia, a graduation assimilation set to transform the current world system
Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin were involved in a joint cooking venture. Pancakes with caviar (blin, in Russian), chased down with a shot of vodka. It just happened at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok. Talk about a graphic (and edible) metaphor sealing the ever-evolving ‘Russia-China comprehensive strategic partnership’.
For a few years now the Vladivostok forum has been offering an unequaled roadmap tracking progress on Eurasia integration.
Last year, on the sidelines of the forum, Moscow and Seoul delivered a bombshell: a trilateral trade platform, crucially integrating Pyongyang, revolving around a connectivity corridor between the whole Korean peninsula and the Russian Far East.
Roundtable topics this year included integration of the Russian Far East into Eurasian logistic chains; once again the Russian link-up with the Koreas – aiming to build a Trans-Korean railway connected to the Trans-Siberian and a “Pipelineistan” branch-out into South Korea via China. Other topics were the Russia-Japan partnership in terms of Eurasian transit, centering on the link-up of the Trans-Siberian and Baikal-Amur Mainline (BAM) upgrades to a projected railway to the island of Sakhalin, and then all the way to the island of Hokkaido.
The future: Tokyo to London, seamlessly, by train.
Then there was integration between Russia and ASEAN – beyond current infrastructure, agricultural, and shipbuilding projects to energy, agro-industry sector and forestry, as outlined by Ivan Polyakov, chairman of the Russia-ASEAN Business Council.
Essentially this is all about the simultaneous build-up of a growing East-West and also North-South axis. Russia, China, Japan, the Koreas and Vietnam, slowly but surely, are on their way to solid geoeconomic integration.
Arguably the most fascinating discussion in Vladivostok was Crossroads on the Silk Road, featuring, among others, Sergey Gorkov, Russian deputy minister of economic development; Wang Yilin, chairman of China’s oil giant CNPC, and Zhou Xiaochun, vice-chairman of the board of directors of the essential Boao Forum.
Moscow’s drive is to link the New Silk Roads or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) with the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). Yet the ultimate geoeconomic target is even more ambitious; a “Greater Eurasian partnership”, where BRI converges with the EAEU, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and ASEAN. At its core lies the Russia-China strategic partnership.
The roadmap ahead, of course, involves striking the right chords in a complex balance of political interests and management practices amid multiple East-West projects. Cultural symbiosis has to be part of the picture. The Russia-China partnership is increasingly inclined to reason in go (weiqi, the game) terms, a shared vision based on universal strategic principles.
Another key discussion in Vladivostok featured Fyodor Lukyanov, research director at the always essential Valdai Discussion Club, and Lanxin Xiang, director of the Centre of One Belt and One Road Studies at the China National Institute for SCO International Exchange. That centered on the geopolitics of Asian interaction, involving key BRICS members Russia, China and India, and how Russia might be able to capitalize on it while navigating the harrowing sanctions and trade war swamp.
All power from Siberia
It all comes back to the basics and the evolving Russia-China strategic partnership. Xi and Putin are implicated to the core. Xi defines the partnership as the best mechanism to “jointly neutralize the external risks and challenges”. For Putin, “our relations are crucial, not only for our countries, but for the world as well.” It’s the first time ever that a Chinese leader has joined the Vladivostok discussions.
China is progressively interconnecting with the Russian Far East. International transport corridors – Primorye 1 and Primorye 2 – will boost cargo transit between Vladivostok and northeast China. Gazprom is about to complete the Russian stretch of the massive Power of Siberia gas pipeline to China, in agreement with CNPC. Over 2,000 kilometers of pipes have been welded and laid from Yakutia to the Russian-Chinese border. Power of Siberia starts operating in December 2019.
According to the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), the partnership is evaluating 73 investment projects worth more than $100 billion. The overseer is the Russian-Chinese Business Advisory Committee, including more than 150 executives from leading Russian and Chinese companies. The CEO of RDIF, Kirill Dmitriev, is convinced “particularly promising transactions will be found in bilateral deals that capitalize on the Russia-China relationship.”
In Vladivostok, Putin and Xi once again agreed to keep increasing bilateral trade on yuan and rubles, bypassing the US dollar – building upon a mutual decision in June to increase the number of yuan-ruble contracts. In parallel, Economic Development Minister Maksim Oreshkin advised Russians to sell US dollars and buy rubles.
Moscow expects the ruble to appreciate to around 64 per US dollar next year. It’s currently trading at around 70 rubles against the dollar, dragged down by US sanctions and the dollar weaponization wreaking havoc in BRICS members Brazil, India and South Africa, as well as potential BRICS Plus states such as Turkey and Indonesia.
Putin and Xi once again reaffirmed they will continue to work in tandem on their inter-Korean roadmap based on “dual freeze” – North Korea suspends nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches while the US suspends military drills with Seoul.
But what really seems to be capturing the imagination of the Koreas is the Trans-Korean railway. Kim Chang-sik, head of railway development in Pyongyang said: “We will further develop this project on the basis of negotiations between Russia, North Korea and South Korea, so that the owners of this project will be the countries of the Korean peninsula.”
That connects to what South Korean President Moon Jae-in said only three months ago: “Once the Trans-Korean main line is built, it may be connected to the Trans-Siberian Railway. In this case, it would be possible to deliver goods from South Korea to Europe, which would be economically beneficial not only to South and North Korea, but to Russia as well.”
Understanding the matryoshka
Contrary to misinformed or manipulated Western hysteria, the current Vostok war games in the Russian Far East’s Trans-Baikal, including 3,000 Chinese troops, are just a section of the much deeper, complex Russia-China strategic partnership. This is all about a matryoshka: the war game is a doll inside the geoeconomic game.
In ‘China and Russia: The New Rapprochement’, Alexander Lukin, from the National Research University Higher School of Economics in Moscow, lays down the roadmap in detail; the evolving, Eurasia-wide economic partnership is part of a much larger, comprehensive concept of “Greater Eurasia”. This is the core of the Russia-China entente, leading to what political scientist Sergey Karaganov has dubbed, “a common space for economic, logistic and information cooperation, peace and security from Shanghai to Lisbon and from New Delhi to Murmansk.”
Without understanding the Big Picture enveloping debates such as the annual gathering in Vladivostok, it’s impossible to understand how the progressive integration of BRI, EAEU, SCO, ASEAN, BRICS and BRICS Plus is bound to irreversibly change the current world-system.
US first to blink in Trump’s nonsensical trade war?
The US trade war is actually up against not only China but also Eurasia and Africa! I think they are realizing that now after being given the heads-up by their own (US) multi-nationals (who grouped themselves into a pressure group called “Americans for Free Trade”) who stands to lose most. These multi-nationals must have realized that their products required such skills and at such costs that only China can provide and that they cannot switch their supply chain for the foreseeable future without other multi-nationals jumping in and by employing the Chinese, out produce, out-price and out-sold the Americans if they are forced by Trump to rely on American and/or other workers!
Even more crucially, they (the US multi-nationals) must have realized that China and only China at present can be the launch-pad for manufacturing products competitively for the Eurasian, African and the European markets and the gateway to sell their products to these markets via the Belt and Road.
It is not the simplistic notion of simply moving the supply chain out of China to ‘lower’ cost countries. It is moving the supply chain from China’s super-productivity, skills and capability in meeting very demanding production schedules, aided by awesome AI automation and innovation, to countries with much lower productivity and much lower skills, reliability and efficiency.
Trump does not demonstrate a good head for details. His experience as a somewhat dodgy businessman did not prepare him for a trade ‘war’ with an opponent who counts every half cent and half second, so to speak.
So for Trump to impose tariffs and for China to retaliate, it would mean moving the US multi-nationals out of not only the Chinese market, but also effectively out of the Eurasian, African, Middle-East (or South-West Asian), Eastern European and even partially, the Western European markets.
In short, the US multi-nationals would be left with just the US and perhaps the Canadian markets. And if the US economy and dollar contract catastrophically due to the trade war, these multi-nationals will collapse with it.
Any nation allowing near slave labor, ie labor paid at rates nearing zero, is of course by definition going to have “super-productivity.” Capitalism has long recognized that the maximum productivity that can be achieved is from slave labor. Ideally when there are so many available slaves that the capitalists don’t even have to pay to properly feed them. The Spanish gold and silver mines in the new world shortly after Columbus had super-productivity, but it wasn’t very good for the life expectency of the slaves.
China’s coming problem is that if they want to rely more on their internal market, it helps if workers are paid enough to buy more than survival needs. Its the problem that American capitalists are already facing, as their drive to reduce labor costs by paying workers less and less has led to the destruction of the internal American market as now the majority of the population is just trying to survive from month to month. Thus, at some point Chinese “super-productivity” has to drop as they pay workers enough money to buy.
“Capitalism has long recognized that the maximum productivity that can be achieved is from slave labor. ”
No way. You can’t get away with that propaganda here.
The highest productivity is always a result of technological advance. That is for real economy productivity. Productivity in the real economy: labor productivity = output production/labor input use.
There are other productivity measures but that captures the essence, involving real productivity (products) and labor
Technological advance, like tractors, mechanized farm implements, fertilizers, etc have resulted in enormous gains in productivity over approximately the last two centuries. That is, labor input use gets smaller and smaller in agriculture, mostly in grains/beans. (Hand labor in ag is still very difficult in hand picking vegetables, fruits, etc., but improvements are happening there also.)
Power and mechanization in mining, fishing, timber, construction, assembly lines, etc has increased productivity vastly over prior periods.
It is those aspects that actually ended slavery, as slavery is uneconomic, compared to powered mechanized production. And now robotics. Modern economies are (artificial) power economies. Not slave economies.
China does not have slave labor. That is just propaganda.
Since 1980, China has lifted some 750+ million of its people out of poverty.
Entrenched poverty is taking hold of more and more U.S. citizens than ever before.
China comes to the table with a ‘ win-win ‘ proposition with other nations (see Africa for example), a handshake and all around amicable relationship. Beneficial to all involved.
The west , especially the U.S., come with diktats, threats of coups, subversion, then sanctions and if all fails, outright warfare. You will comply or be destroyed !
It doesn’t take a nuclear engineer to see tat the future belongs to Eurasia, with China being the primary world economic engine, and driving force for the betterment of mankind for the middle of the 21st century and onwards. And Russia is right there along side her.
The one country that perplexes me is India, where infrastructure is in tatters, 900 million poor souls living miserable, poverty ridden lives, yet the Indian ruling class, and the Hindu nationalists cant seem to make a break from dependence and all out admiration for all things western, and join in the prosperity offered by China, Russia model for civilization. They are seduced by Zionists, and its almost too late in the game for them.
Once the Islamic world shakes off the U.S., Britain, France from the MENA , it too will further gravitate wholeheartedly eastward, where the promise of a bright future integrating in the OBR Silk Roads.
Just three months ago, the first high speed train from China to Iran made its maiden voyage. China, with Russia, will rebuild Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan and a host of war torn nations, left like carcasses by the voracious west.
Precisely. India’s problem is that its ruling elites are corrupt, envy China’s rise greatly, and are being expertly manipulated by Thanatopolis DC and Tel Aviv, primarily through the influence of expatriate Indians in the USA. India’s future as a tool of the West is grim indeed, but in alliance with China and Russia it could have real hope.
Don’t worry about the Chinese. They’re doing fine.
On July 1, 2021, every Chinese will have a home, a job, plenty of food, education, safe streets, health and old age care.
On that day there will be more poor, hungry and imprisoned people in America than in China. Not relatively, not per capita, but in absolute numbers.
On that fateful day 450,000,000 urban Chinese will have more wealth and higher disposable incomes, their mothers and infants will be less likely to die in childbirth than ours, their children will graduate three years ahead of ours from high school and outlive ours.
“The key question the West must ask is: how was the relative over-performance of Western societies in the second half of the 20th century replaced by underperformance in the 21st century? The answer will not come from looking at China. It will come from looking in the mirror”. Kishore Mahbubani, former President, UN Security Council.
On the contrary, any nation paying near slave-labour rates will have near zero productivity unless, like pre-civil war US, they actually enforce slavery or near slavery like some parts of the British Empire in its hey-days.
Simon, you obviously have no experience of today’s China at all, and whoever it is that’s spoonfeeding you your info hasn’t any either. You’re talkin’ rubbish.
The reality is that China’s economy is already some $6T (yes, Trillion) larger than the US on a PPP basis. The domestic economy is enormous, and growing larger by the minute. Nobody (statistically speaking) works for slave wages in slave-like conditions. Those days are long gone.
Pockets of poverty are still to be found, of course, but where one was surrounded by them 30 years ago, you have go looking for them today. And what you’ll find is that even those pockets are immensely better off than they were 30 years ago.
Erebus. I agree with you. I wasn’t saying China is paying slave-labour wages; just what would happen to productivity if slave labour wages are paid. I use a hypothetical case of actual slave labour enforced like in pre-civil war USA.
Totally wrong there bub. China is now lifting 12 million people a year out of poverty after a massive uplift from previous years. There isn’t poverty and lawlessness in China like Western media likes to depict. Been there, seen it. And the rate of exchange is excellent. 100 yuan gets you far too. That’s roughly 14 bucks US. That’s 3 squares for 2 days and the Chinese can do it for a lot less cause they’re cooking and I’m dining out. The people are friendly, hospitable, generous and hard working like you’ve never seen. Their craftsmanship in producing anything is beyond compare. Never have I seen a more industrious nation of people. No way the United States can compete with the Chinese/Russian vision for the world. And since the US has never picked on a country it’s own size, well, it’s obvious the US will not be the hegemon for long.
Very true, Cindy, but with the USA controlled by the Zionazis, with two competing gangs of psychopaths dominating politics of intense partisan internecine hatred, and a Messianic belief in their ‘Exceptionalism’ and ‘indispensability’, I see the chances of US aggression against Russia and China moving from mere subversion and sanction to actual military attacks. I do not see how the rabid dog can ever turn away from the genocidal habits of centuries.
Stupendous ignorance! Chinese wages have been growing strongly for ten or more years, fueling domestic consumption and massive internal and foreign travel.
Furthermore, Trump’s trade war threatens to turn US’s small business-owners into workers for the big corporations i.e. if they can get jobs with them after a year or so when the impact of the trade war really hits them with brute force. So we shall see if Trump continues or is allowed to continue his trade war with China.
Trump will be retired if he seriously impacts trade business. Already, the globalists on Wall Street are investing in the coming election and would put 2-3 Billion Dollars into a candidate for 2020. They want their Chinese-driven growth. Especially, as the Chinese are opening the financial industry to these wolves. Trump is playing a game he cannot win.
Deep inside the external markers of the Russia-China relationship are the bonds of development based on science and technology flowing from Russian Institutes, Universities and special technology sectors. China is heavily investing in these products, processes and inventions. Many are dual use civilian-military innovations and breakthroughs for keeping Russia, China and Eurasian partners safe from US weaponry and economic domination.
Though the barriers of culture and language are not insignificant, the two sides have urgent need to work to overcome barriers and hesitation. Russia intrigues the Chinese now that it has climbed back to SuperPower and has demonstrated excellence in its science and technology (exemplified in Syria and real time demonstrations of new weapons no one else has.)
China has wealth and Russia has learned how to attract it. Russia is also very aware that China can mass produce products and market them globally while Russia has every restriction the Hegemon can throw in its way. So, Russia and China have developed a mutual relationship based in commercial common sense.
Significantly, Japan’s Abe was there for active involvement as a big investor in Russia. Though peace treaty and the Kuril Islands are outstanding issues, business and understanding that Eurasia is happening and Japan must participate creates a mandate for Abe. And he is a stakeholder in the Korean Peninsula. Solving that threat will free Japan from the straightjacket of defense spending and subordination to the Hegemon.
This Forum was historic. Putin’s salesperson pitching the opportunities of the Far East was President Xi. It was a marvelous thing to watch and listen as China lauded the high tech opportunities, as well as the energy and agricultural bonanza that awaited investors and partners.
Trump had to be apoplectic thinking he should have been there selling the USA and getting a piece of the real estate pie. Instead, the US stayed in its Russophobic cave, chanting neocon dharma phrases like “Putin did it, Russia, Russia. No Collusion, Fake News”. MAGA missed the train to Eurasia.
Maybe next year, ’45’, if they haven’t impeached you or worse.
”Instead, the US stayed in its Russophobic cave, chanting neocon dharma phrases like ’Putin did it, Russia, Russia. No Collusion, Fake News’. MAGA missed the train to Eurasia.”
Haha, well put! Russia, for its part, could resort to some similar chanting:
The Russophobic cave is most certainly a tempting place to visit — replete with the basest lowlives this planet has ever known!
Yes, participation in Russia’s Eastern Economic Forum and in the Russian economy will certainly help make America great again. Also make Eurasia and Africa great again before the great Anglo-Saxon and Western plundering of the last 500 years!
”But what really seems to be capturing the imagination of the Koreas is the Trans-Korean railway. Kim Chang-sik, head of railway development in Pyongyang said: ’We will further develop this project on the basis of negotiations between Russia, North Korea and South Korea, so that the owners of this project will be the countries of the Korean peninsula.’ ”
I wonder how the Zionazis and their MSM are going to frame such initiatives. Ownership in the hands of Koreans won’t be taken lightly by our firm promoters of Western democracy. Expect something like ’Putin and Pyongyang forces totalitarian railroad on South Korean democracy’.
The Outlaw US Empire has already intervened to slow down the trans-Korean rail line by disallowing surveyors to do their work in an action from @10 days ago. Sorry, no link.
In the article, Pepe linked to the Business Program many of which have a summary in English and video of the session, also in English. And that’s just the first day of three!
Everything on that program is what the Outlaw US Empire is determined to prevent as they undermine its #1 policy goal of attaining Full Spectrum Dominance, for which Trump’s MAGA is a euphemism.
I believe the US has legal control of the entire DMZ. Thus, no growth without US approval. South is held captive. Not just occupied, but tied up in legal knots.
The South Koreans will have to be insurgents against the US military to rid their control of the Hegemon.
One reason why the US will never allow a united Korea in any form. They would be driven off the Peninsula by the combined rage of North and South.
Yes, it keeps control through what’s called the UN Command, which was the agency that actually caused the work cessation. As we know, peace is poison for the Outlaw US Empire. Koreans, like Okinawans, will likely need to physically push the Imperial Stormtroopers into the ocean to be rid of them. Although IMO, if further interference occurs, RoK will bite back nicely at first, then viciously. Moon and Kim meet soon, and that might be a game-changer as I expect them to sign their own Peace Treaty to force the US/UN hands. Imagine Trump also signing but the Senate refusing to ratify such a Treaty on the eve of elections!
If the US tries to sabotage a peace treaty in the Security Council then I can imagine North and South Korea, along with Russia and China, sponsoring an “Uniting for Peace” resolution in the General Assembly. We may then truly see how few friends and vassals the US really has.
South Korean Christians hate Kim thanks to his persecution of their people, remember. They will do anything to prevent any reunification with Juche remain legal as an ideology. American occupation aside, in my opinion those people know that the West respect their freedom of religion unlike Kim.
The ideal reunification is basically, well, annexation. Any reference to Juche and other North Korean related stuff expunged.
Syria and allies should warn the militants and co., any use of chemical weapons on Syrian soil whether (faked or otherwise) will be the confirmation that militants are barbarians and all pretense of civility will be dropped from the methods used to eliminate them and their supporters.
The problem for the Russian-Syrian + allies attack is there are a million or so civilians behind which the terrorists are hiding. So, precision strikes with the munition best suited for the target. What will come into play is the high skills of Spetsnaz and Elite special force units to target the bad guys and spare the civilians.
Tactics to create boilers of trapped terrorists will be in play. Then within the boilers everything will get destroyed. (again, carefully avoiding the innocents).
Idlib is the most challenging operation of the war.
Pepe’s reference to “Go” the Chinese strategy game in the context of Eurasian integration is interesting. It’s also a strategy game to overcome enemies where the ‘enemy’ are common problems/obstacles standing in the way of achieving common goals which in this case is Eurasian integration.
“… Roundtable topics this year included integration of the Russian Far East…”
Calling the Russian East Coast the Russian Far East is bad marketing at best and has to be changed. Argues Adam Garrie, and I agree:
“The future: Tokyo to London, seamlessly, by train.”
“peace and security from Shanghai to Lisbon ”
Forget London and Lisbon for the time being, Eastern Economic Forum folks, Tokyo to Moscow, and Shanghai to Saint Petersburg is good enough for a start…
Greetings from China.
Currently in Zhengzhou,(population 10 million) Henan province (100 million) in central China. Agricultural and factory hub. Here the Vivo factory employs 500,000 and assembles 80% of IPhones.
I was going to drop in on President Xi for a green tea but he was havng blini with President Putin.
Shanghai is beyond description- what you see has been in the last 24 years. The skyscrapers are incredibly beautiful by night. The Maglev train (magnetic levitation) zooms at 431 km hr. The roads and railway infrastructure is amazing and built in record time with round the clock work.
Will ask the guide tomorrow if they have a govt approved script.
Google Facebook etc blocked here and WhatsApp only sends text and blocks photos. So an interesting country.
Babushka, are your 4 children with you? How did they react to the new China? Did they see the new China as a promising future involving them or a threat?
Adam Garrie has an interesting take on the internal conflicts that have to be overcome if Russia’s gonna take full advantage of its Pacific coastline. He also suggests a program that will open a new window on the world for Russia.