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What can the Far East

Leonid Blyakher about whether anyone can develop the Far East, except for its inhabitants

After, in connection with the results of voting in the elections of governors in the two largest subjects of the Far Eastern Federal District, the Far East again got on the federal agenda, quite a lot of wise articles appeared about the strangeness of people in the Russian Far East. The articles were different, from quite interesting to very strange. But the logic in them was lined up in the style of Winnie the Pooh: they are the wrong bees and their honey is wrong. Far Easterners are essentially paternalists, they were written by respected and not very respected authors, they wanted and continue to want everyone to get all the benefits from the center, but they don’t want to give anything in return. Only whine. Say, we need (they, the Far East) to pay extra for the very fact of living here. And since no one wanted to be led by their impudence, they began to resent, vote for the wrong candidates and behave in an extremely rude manner.

What can the Far East
Photo: shutterstock.com

Leonid Blyakher

Professor, Head of the Department of Philosophy and Culturology of the Pacific State University, Doctor of Philosophy
In principle, one could simply ignore the wise and astute political scientists. Far Easterners (including the author) perfectly understand why and against what they voted. But even before everyone (plus or minus) turned out to be experts on the Far East, questions about what the value of the Far East is, why they “whine all the time,” sometimes surfaced. Even sensible ideas floated up to evict them (not all, about eighty percent) from here, and to populate the territory, as is customary, with guest workers who would work and not interfere with the progressors to develop the Far East. Indeed, why do we need these very aching, eternally dissatisfied Far East people? Let's try to figure it out.

Is there a significant group with the most paternalistic sentiments here in the region? Of course have. Until the very last Soviet years, a significant part of the population of the Far East was military. The described claim - we are owed, since we are defending the country - is characteristic of this class, and not only in the Far East. But if in the 50s the military in the region was incredibly large (with families - more than half of the population), then in the 80s there were much fewer of them. Other inhabitants of the region - workers, engineers, scientists, writers - were completely different. They knew that honey was not smeared here. That in order to survive, you need to be able to negotiate, work together, get along with neighbors, calmly do your job.

When Russia decided that it did not need the region, it was these Far Easterners who were able to rebuild themselves, the regional economy, and create profitable activities in the shortest possible time. They chopped wood, fished, traded with all the countries of East Asia. Of course, not all went to the rich. But since the “rich people” lived here in the region, they, willy-nilly or otherwise, invested in the region. Invested in construction to live in good homes. They invested in local health and education for the same reasons. New restaurants and clubs, musical groups and theater entertainments were created for them. Created for them, but enjoyed by all. In a relatively short time, hundreds of thousands of new, well-paid jobs have sprung up in the region, and small businesses have flourished.

It is also important that the authority with which it is necessary to come to an agreement was near - the mayor, the governor decided on the spot all important issues for the population. Not only because they were especially good, but because they could decide. The ability to negotiate extended to the neighbors. For several years, the active part of the population of the region had “exits” to China and Korea, Japan and the countries of Southeast Asia. A circle of friends was formed who insured business in the absence of a coherent government policy and allowed for effective dialogue, including at the state level. Were there any outside workers in the region? Of course. But only for the most part they were there, where the local did not want to work.

But times have changed. State money went to the region. Local money and the local economy were considered “crime and corruption”. The fact that it was they who fed the region did not particularly bother the new progressors. After all, they also create jobs, conclude "protocols of intent" with neighbors, build, repair, varnish. And they certainly do it better. After all, otherwise it turns out somehow stupid: to destroy an efficient economy in order to introduce an ineffective one. Controllers followed the state money. Everyone knows that the Far East will plunder everything, give them free rein. The governors turned into distributors of federal money in accordance with the previously given articles. Regional power and "regional elites" remained only in the writings of political scientists. Some of these elites joined the federal ones, losing interest in the region, some moved abroad, and some decided to sit in places not so remote for several years.

As a result, tens of thousands of new jobs were created in the region. True, hundreds of thousands were eliminated. But these were the wrong jobs. Enormous construction began. Only firms were not built from here. Finance, engineers, workers, subcontractors - they are all from there, from a beautiful far away. Even the building materials are not supplied by local firms. How can you trust them (us)? And don't you dare be indignant! We are building for you. The fact that you say that you do not need it, you simply do not understand your happiness. Do you want our money "no return"? Yes, the Lord is with you and your money. We do not want your money, or your supervisors, who are already monitoring the correctness of the process of inhalation and exhalation, punishing for violation of technology.

In the course of general improvement and deepening under the knife, the long-term contacts of the Far-Easterners with the neighboring countries also went. We do not need it. We have signed protocols of intent for incredible billions. The fact that the protocols for the most part remain protocols, any normal official worries in the tenth place. He reported, built a picture, and well. It is then that business people will complain on the sidelines of how difficult it is to do business in the East. What are they - Eastern people - strange and incomprehensible.

This is where the Far Eastern or former Far Eastern inhabitants living today in neighboring countries could join. They know how to negotiate with their neighbors. They have support and connections in business circles, an understanding of how, not on paper, but in reality, laws work in these countries. But for this you need to understand why and how far the Far Easterners are unhappy. Understand a simple for local and so uncomfortable for progressors from the outside truth - to develop the Far East can only residents of the Far East. It is difficult, but you need to realize a simple truth: it is not only on your territory that you need to “accompany” investment projects, joint ventures. It is much more important to do it there, abroad. Then many obstacles that today seem insurmountable will simply disappear.

Things are easy. It is necessary that the Far Eastern people themselves and the members of the Russian diasporas in neighboring countries want to do this. To do this, they need to be heard, to be believed. Unfortunately, this is not happening yet.     
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