Russia Looks East: Andrey Tatarinov Comments on the Place of the Asia-Pacific Region in Russian Foreign Policy

By Tatarinov, Andrey | New Zealand International Review, May-June 2011 | Go to article overview

Russia Looks East: Andrey Tatarinov Comments on the Place of the Asia-Pacific Region in Russian Foreign Policy


Tatarinov, Andrey, New Zealand International Review


Russia's interest in the Asia-Pacific region is increasing. This is partly because it is a vast Asian power in its own right, and has an extensive Pacific coastline. But it also a reflection of profound changes taking place in the alignment of the world's political and economic forces. The Asia-Pacific region today is a powerful growth generator. It has 60 per cent of the world's GDP, half the world's trade and about 40 per cent of the cumulative international investments. It is in the Asia-Pacific region where the outlines of the new world order may be emerging; a new look global management system could be forming.

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For a number of reasons, Russia has recently been paying increasing attention to Asia. Its geographical location--two-thirds of its territory lies in Asia and it has an extensive Pacific coast as well--is one influence. Besides, it is following an accelerated development of trends that will cause significant changes in the alignment of the world's political and economic forces in the near future, as well as the deep transformation of the entire system of international relations. This process is actually under way, forming a polycentric world order where regional co-operation has priority. Centripetal trends are currently speeding up in many regions of the world. But the Asia-Pacific region has a special place in this development, and the world community has good reason to recognise that the 21st century will be the age of Asia.

Today the Asia-Pacific region (and the recent global financial and economic crisis highlighted this very clearly) not only tops the list on most economic factors but also plays the role of a global growth generator. Considerable credit for the fact that the global economy overcame the worst phase of the recession and started to recover should be given to the Asian countries, as many of them managed to maintain a high pace of economic development. At present a very substantial potential is building up in the Asia-Pacific region. It has 60 per cent of the world's GDP, half of the world's trade and about 40 cent of the cumulative international investments.

Following economic interests, the gravitational centre of political activity is also shifting towards the Asia-Pacific region. It concentrates a vigorous resource, financial, production and technology potential. At the same time, there are foci of serious geo-political contradictions in the region. In other words, the interests of the leading world 'players', including Russia, intersect, coinciding and clashing, in the Asia-Pacific space.

The importance and high prospects of this region, its role in the fate of our world, are undoubted. It is in the Asia-Pacific region where the outlines of the new world order may be currently emerging; a new look global management system may be forming.

Unprecedented growth

The region itself is also undergoing a big metamorphosis.

First, there is the unprecedented growth of inter-dependency and inter-connection of the countries of the region, the speeding up of multi-level economic integration. Under the influence of the global turmoil and the logic of intra-regional development, the long-maturing process of reforming the regional architecture has begun in the Asia-Pacific region.

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Asia-Pacific countries recognise ever more clearly that they can only ensure the peace and stability of the region by means of joint efforts, taking measures to enhance security on a collective, non-aligned basis. The establishment of the multi-polarity gives us a unique chance of creating-maybe for the first time since the Cold War--a stable, more balanced combination of centres of economic growth and political influence in the Asia-Pacific region.

Another mark of modern times is that rapidly developing countries--such as China, India and South Korea--are coming onto the centre-stage of regional policy. …

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