After intense summits of BRICS and SCO, the press was filled with pompous headlines about the upcoming “new world order”, which will be determined by the union of China and Russia. However, in reality, this alliance is not in a hurry to form, breaking up against the inertia of the Russian bureaucracy and the “public opinion” of the elites.
In the first six months of this year, the volume of trade between Russia and China declined by almost a third compared with the same period last year. At the same time, exports from China to Russia decreased by 36,2%, and from Russia to China by 23,9%. Of course, the reason for this was the weakening of the ruble, the economic problems of the PRC, and the fall in oil prices. But the matter is not even in these figures, but in the fact that the “turn to the East” does not seem to be taken seriously by anyone except the top political leadership of the country. I will give an example.
Recall the Chinese project "New Silk Road". One of the branches of the corridor "Western China - Western Europe" is a modern automobile highway almost 8,5 thousand kilometers long. Most of them have already been built - this is 3,4 thousand km in China and 2,7 thousand km in Kazakhstan (the site is completed and will be commissioned next year). For Kazakhstan in general, this construction has become a real national project, on which N. Nazarbayev has high hopes. And it is clear why this is the revival of trade, the development of small business along the highway (often in depressed regions of the country) and, in the end, the most modern road infrastructure in Kazakhstan. Moreover, this is, in fact, an extremely important Eurasian project, because it connects not only Kazakhstan and China, but also Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan. With Russia by itself, but here there is a hitch. Next year, the Kazakhs will bring their plot to the border with Russia in the Orenburg region, and then the fate of the project completely depends on us, and not to say that it is positively determined. We are still thinking whether we need it. No kidding.
It got to the point that Nazarbayev personally asked D. Medvedev to connect to the project and pull the road to St. Petersburg through Moscow, Kazan, Orenburg. I will note here the obvious fact that we need a road for all the same reasons as indicated above. This is especially true not spoiled by investments and development projects of the Orenburg region. But instead of vigorous work on our part, we see the already familiar red tape:
“On the eve of the meeting of the first persons of the Orenburg region, who discussed the construction of the highway (...) When construction begins, the federal authorities did not respond. This is due to the fact that there is no agreed project and, consequently, funding for it. To begin construction, it is necessary to prove the future efficiency of the road. First of all, it should have a return, be convenient for residents and guests of Orenburg ... ”
Actually, this is all that we need to know about the “turn to the East”, which was first announced, if I'm not mistaken, in the 2012 year.
In the same Orenburg region there is a wonderful city of Orsk on the very border with Kazakhstan. So: in the nearest Kazakhstani city of Aktobe (also known as Aktyubinsk), signs on the doors of the offices of large international companies are duplicated, in addition to Kazakh, in Russian, English and Chinese, and their top managers speak Chinese fluently. But after a little more than a hundred kilometers, in the Russian Orsk, the Chinese were only seen on TV.
One gets the feeling that the Russian management and business elite, which is habitually oriented towards the West, still consider turning the East to be a temporary political bliss of top management. It is understandable. After all, her money is not exactly stored in Asian accounts, and overseas property is not in Beijing and Shanghai. If you read the numerous statements of HSE experts (namely, they still largely determine the economic course of the country), the gap between political declarations and real practice becomes even more obvious. Add here almost complete disregard of China by our media (except for rare outbreaks of interest about summits or any bird flu) and the resulting ignorance and denseness of society, which remains at the mercy of outdated myths about China.
In general, the country still hopes for the lifting of sanctions and the restoration of ties with the West more than for integration with Asia, although time requires from us quite different.