The Political Economy of Pacific Russia: Regional Developments in East Asia
This book goes into great depth in addressing the questions of Russia’s comprehensive reorientation to Asia and explores the geo-economic and geopolitical standing of “Pacific Russia,” outlines the factors of Pacific Russia’s integration into Asia, and suggests actual mechanisms of such integration. The discussion in the book is focused and concrete in examining some of the critical dynamics undergirding the region. The book repositions Pacific Russia in the modern trends unfolding in the region and provides an in-depth analysis of international cooperation in the spheres of energy, infrastructure, sustainable development, and disaster management that represent key areas of interest for Russia’s integration into Asia
Since the global financial crisis of 2007–2009 all Asian powers (both rising and already well established) initiated or supported some large-scale infrastructure projects in the region. The Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN) has put much effort into promoting connectivity concept both within the Association and via the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). Korean President Pak officially presented a Eurasian initiative. India started to position itself as a continental power and proposed an idea of a new North–South corridor—a cross-Eurasian trade route. China also put its project ‘One Belt, One Road’ (OBOR) into the centre of its foreign economic policy, cultural diplomacy, military strategy, and internal strategic development. Russia put such initiatives as modernisation and promotion of the northern sea route and renovation of the Trans-Siberian route as important objectives of national development policy. This chapter investigates the role of Russian Siberia and the Far East—33 % of the territory of the Asian continent—in these new strategic plans. Our finding is that a place has already been found for the Russian Far East on a new infrastructure map of Eurasia, but Siberia remains mostly excluded from all the key projects despite its enormous resources and technological and human potential. Analysis of official documents, development strategies, business news, and transport budget allocation all support this proposition. It appears that there is a serious challenge for Russian authorities (both federal and regional), while Siberian development policy needs to be reconsidered and written into cross-border and continental projects—not only in the long-existing transit dream of the Trans-Siberian route.
With the ‘turn to the East’ in Russian foreign policy, the development of the Russian Far East has become one of the priorities of Russian government that has made various attempts to integrate it into the economy of the Asia-Pacific region (APR). This integration should be driven by mutual interest, not only based on Russia’s vision of the prospects of its Eastern territories but also on APR countries’ demand for their involvement. This chapter argues that this demand is changing now because of the transformation of the economic model in APR countries. This transformation includes four shifts: (1) from extensive export-oriented economic growth towards an intensive one based on growing internal demand; (2) from primitive labour-intensive products towards relatively high quality and high-tech ones; (3) from dominating exports to developed countries towards orientation to intraregional markets; (4) from rapid development in coastal areas towards fast economic growth at the former periphery. These shifts generate demand for resource-intensive (energy, land, water) consumer goods as well as infrastructure connecting new APR growth areas with territories where these goods are produced. The main opportunity of Russia’s Far East to integrate into the APR is through meeting this demand. For this purpose some approaches and principles of Russian Far Eastern policy should be revised.