Russia, it's time to become Asia
The Russian Far East has long been viewed by many as being abandoned by Moscow and forever cut off from the rest of the country. The numerous statements of the federal authorities that the Far East is also Russia, as well as the visits of Dmitry Medvedev to the islands disputed by Japan, do not change the general state of affairs. In September, the Far East will become a place where the leaders of the leading APR countries will gather at the APEC summit. We will talk with the deputy director of the Institute of Philosophy of the Russian Academy of Sciences for Development, a member of the expert council of the Agency for Strategic Initiatives Peter Schedrovitsky, about whether this will somehow change the situation with the eastern Russian outskirts.
Ytro: Pyotr Georgievich, the attention of politicians and economists has been riveted to the Far East over the past six months. The possible creation of a state corporation for the development of these territories was actively discussed, then a ministry was created. The upcoming APEC summit on Russky Island underlines the importance of this region for Russia. What, in your opinion, are the prospects for the development of Russian Far Eastern territories?
Pyotr Shchedrovitsky: The first thing that needs to be clearly understood today is that the Russian Far East is subject to the influence of the macroprocess — the process of industrialization and urbanization in Asia, which is central to the entire modern world and is at its peak.
Two key centers of economic activity - Europe and the USA - are currently in a downturn. Growth is only in Asia. Consequently, the time has come for Russia to seriously pursue its eastern territories in order to use the potential of the rapidly growing Asia-Pacific region for its own development.
Asia today is in fact a new Mediterranean: a huge population density, high rates of economic growth, constant economic exchange. There is a primary and secondary industrialization, the creation of modern infrastructures and a new quality of life, and in connection with this fantastic consumption growth in this macro-region, which begins literally beyond the nearest border of the Primorsky Territory. This process sets the main challenge to what can and should occur in the Russian Far East.
"Y": So what's the difficulty? It would seem that Russia's integration into the APR is predetermined by the course of events?
P.SCH .: The main difficulty is that we are mainly included in the European integration system. And since this has been the case for centuries, in the Siberian and Far Eastern territories there are neither people, nor traffic flows, nor normal participation in the Asia-Pacific system of division of labor.
Due to various circumstances - late development relative to other regions of Russia, remoteness from the center, low level of settlement and the absence of large cities - the pace of development of the Far East lags behind both the average Russian and desired from the point of view of compliance with the scale of the processes occurring in the Asia-Pacific region.
"Y": Why are such promising territories ignored for centuries?
P.Sh .: I do not agree. The question of their development and Asian reorientation in stories Russia is not the first time. He first stood up in 1798, when the United American Company was established in Irkutsk, acting with 1799 under the protection of His Imperial Majesty's patronage. But her story was unsuccessful, and from past acquisitions in this region of Russia by the middle of the XIX century. actually had to refuse. The sale of Alaska at 1867 was a natural outcome. Even then it became clear: the size of the territory should correspond to the management capabilities.
The second time the question arose seriously in the late XIX - early XX century. Focusing on the forecasts of the best minds about fast growth in Asia, the Russian Empire has again begun to take certain steps towards integration into this region. Just with the foundation of Vladivostok in 1860, we finally reached the Pacific Ocean systematically. Began intensive agricultural and commercial development. And at the beginning of the 20th century, during the Stolypin reforms, Transsib was created and almost four million people moved there from Central Russia.
The third opportunity to develop the Siberian and Far Eastern lands arose for the Soviet Union after the Second World War, at the time of industrial industrialization. I think that if at that time we were able to reach an agreement with China and use the Chinese market for the industrialization of Eastern Siberia and the Far East, we would have a completely different situation in this region today.
“Y”: Today we have another opportunity to master it?
P.SCH .: If the development model will meet the challenges of time, and will not be a repetition of the Soviet protracted construction, then surely yes. If we build the infrastructural and industrial solutions that will use the most modern approaches, we have a chance to smooth out the problems associated with the small number of people, for example. It is possible to create fully robotized enterprises in this region. But for this it is necessary to have projects of these industries, for them to build an education system, a distribution system. The raw material development trend is used as a resource base for solving development problems. To create there the most modern environmental planning system, so that the quality of life is high, the most modern agriculture, which would be controlled from space and have high productivity, the most modern residential sector of the most modern materials. That is to turn this region into a springboard for the realization of the most advanced achievements in the field of technology and management.
“Y”: What, in your opinion, is the specificity of the city of Vladivostok itself?
P.SCH .: Let's remember that Vladivostok was founded in July of 1860, that is, quite recently by historical standards. The city is located so that from it many world centers are located closer than from Moscow: San Francisco, Tokyo, Seoul, Beijing. Vladivostok in the center of the APR is a favorable geographical position. The city was originally created as a military settlement and at the same time as a port. But its military functions were never seriously used, but the port was implemented through the ideology of "Porto-Franco", which existed for about half a century, until the tenth years of the 20th century. For fifty years, the city has passed such a path of development, which many old Russian cities have been passing for centuries. And by the beginning of the century was already a powerful center of attraction for all kinds of commercial and industrial activity.
“Y”: Who was the main population, was and is?
P.SCH .: We need to understand that from the very beginning Vladivostok was a multicultural, multi-national city. It actively settled foreign experts and traders: both Americans and Germans. Many streets and houses still bear the imprint of this first trade development. Quite a lot there settled Chinese. And, for example, the trade in water or sea kale was monopolized by them. Russian merchants actively developed the fur trade, trade with America and with the underdeveloped - then still - countries of the Asia-Pacific region.
"Y": And the military?
P.SCH .: And the military were. But let me remind you that, in fact, the military status of Vladivostok has never been used. At the same time, since the population was multicultural and multinational, and from Russia a rather active stratum, oriented towards entrepreneurship, was going there, the city was booming. The level of self-government and self-organization was much higher than in the whole country.
In addition, the Far East was not bound by the fetters of the traditional Russian peasant community, for example. Agriculture was mainly of a commodity nature: these were large farms that developed practically along the American path, if you recall Lenin, that is, through the creation of a farm.
"Y": Has that human capital been preserved?
P.SCH .: In general, yes. Indeed, over the years, the most active people rode out of the traditional social fetters, which at one time or another characterized Central Russia, drove to this region.
"Y": What are the strengths of Vladivostok can be noted today?
It continues to be prone to multiculturalism, like any city that was a platform for mixing diversity and a meeting point for different cultures, types of activities, ways of life. That is, it is one of the few cities in the country — perhaps partly close to St. Petersburg — in which such a possibility exists. And diversity inevitably generates innovation, one way or another: technological, social, political, organizational, cultural.
"Y": And this diversity, apparently, will help to integrate into the concept of working with the ATP?
P.SCH .: Of course! Because even then, at the dawn of the heyday of the city, representatives of the diasporas of key countries represented in this region lived in it. And today this connection is. Walking through the streets of Vladivostok, you will see a lot of non-Russian people, whose number is increasing year by year. And it is right. In New York, Hong Kong or Singapore, you also meet representatives of very many nationalities. Vladivostok is the same city as a “mixer”, a city in which a combination of different cultures takes place, generating innovation.
“Y”: In your opinion, what should you rely on today at the next stage of the development of the eastern territories?
P.SCH .: I think you will agree that any kind of activity requires some spatial organization. We need one or another infrastructure, a communication system, a mobility system, and one or another density of interaction, taking into account the type of activity. Therefore, it is most reasonable, in my opinion, to rely on clusters. The cluster phenomenon is directly related to the indicator that we need to increase for the successful development of these lands - with the density of activity in the territory.
The essence of the cluster is very simple: the efficiency of economic activity depends on its density. If three people live on the territory, the maintenance of the infrastructure for these three people - transport, medicine, schools, electricity - will be prohibitively expensive. Therefore, if the activity density in the territory is low, then the effectiveness for each participant is also low. And if the activity density is high and there are more participants, the infrastructure costs are the same, but they are divided between a large number of users, and for each it becomes more profitable.
If we managed to collect such a high density on the same territory, then we created a cluster. Clusters are of different types. Linear production, which were created in the XIX - early XX century: butts are put redistribution of the same production process. The efficiency of each increases, and the costs decrease.
"Y": For example?
P.SCH .: For example, if you cultivate a forest, then you have a research institute that is engaged in the breeding of modern types of forest, there is an agriculture, there is a felling of this forest, there is processing for some specific production. And it is also desirable that there be an educational institute for training specialists in this field and, for example, some kind of furniture or paper design. Here you have assembled a linear cluster.
And there are clusters that are built on the transfer of knowledge and competencies from one area to another. Not one line, but several, and between them different transitions. The so-called cluster synergy arises: technological solutions obtained in one area unexpectedly give effect in other areas. These are modern clusters that use the effect of the knowledge economy.
"Y": What kind of clusters does the Far East need?
P.SCH .: It is not yet known what type will take root in our Far Eastern territories. There are lots of nuances. Since Russia is traditionally late, many niches are already occupied: the Japanese, Chinese, Koreans, Vietnamese, Australians are doing a lot. Your niche must be sought. It is necessary that the analytical and research center, which will directly solve this problem, work purposefully.
And, of course, we need highly qualified personnel. If we want to create a modern economic infrastructure in the developed areas, then the requirements for people should be up-to-date, in all areas.
“Y”: Let's summarize: how do you see the development of our Far Eastern territories?
P.SCH .: I think that the most correct decision is to create conditions for two different types of development of these lands. On the one hand - to strengthen urban centers, create a modern urban environment. To do this, we have Vladivostok and Khabarovsk in the Far East. On the other hand - to create conditions for the local economy, focused on supporting ecological agriculture, small house-building, maintenance, tourism and recreation. Well, and most importantly: use the energy of the growing Asian region, gradually integrate into it.
"Y": Is the APEC Summit here to help?
P.SCH .: Certainly. The fact that the APEC summit arrives in the Far East, which, among other things, formulates today's agenda for this macro-region, is a very serious step forward in the integration process.
The questions that will be submitted to the panel discussions, in my opinion, are extremely relevant to the media and intellectuals of Vladivostok. I once wrote that a world power is one that "holds the world on its hands," that is, it answers world problems. Therefore, Russia has the opportunity to discuss world problems in Vladivostok and participate in solving them. But these problems need to be made our own: we should not say "we" and "they", otherwise there will be no interaction. Integration into the Asia-Pacific region begins with an integration into the agenda. A picture of the world and priorities should be shared.