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Vladislav Inozemtsev: "Bridges for hundreds of billions will not help to move to new shores"
- As long as Russia exists, so much it has been trying to “turn its face” somewhere. It cuts the window to Europe, then - as now - it intends to make a "breakthrough to the East", "turn to Asia", "move to the Pacific Ocean." Vladislav Leonidovich, do you think these ideas are feasible? And are there any mega-projects possible after the Ukrainian events with the participation of Western or Eastern partners - the same Northern Alliance of Russia, America and the EU countries in the Pacific Ocean?
- On the part of different alliances - certainly, the changes have been cardinal, and in the foreseeable future no one and nothing like us will create. I appreciate the skepticism of scenarios of all sorts of "breakthroughs" somewhere, especially in the eastern direction. Yes, now much has been said about this. The eastern vector is a government idea, and the fact that one should "look towards Asian markets" is the official point of view. But if the words are spoken from a high rostrum, this does not mean that we should take them as an axiom or the truth in the last instance. There are a lot of questions. For example, what are Asian markets? This is for us not only China, but, to a much greater extent, our allies in the Eurasian Economic Community and the Customs Union in Central Asia. Why are we so enthusiastic about cooperation with China, to be honest, I do not understand at all. From the economic point of view, the Celestial Empire is our absolute enemy, we have cardinally opposite interests, but let's talk about this a little later. I will only note that even if the globe is to conduct from Moscow a "vector to the east," it will pass through Japan, Canada, the northern territories of the United States and point to Vancouver rather than Beijing.
Our country has today a "raw" economy, the export of resources from the regions of Siberia and the Far East is the foundation of its welfare. In all truly successful countries, the lion's share of national wealth is created in large industrial, financial and technological centers, rather than in raw material-rich but sparsely populated states or districts. However, we have a special way of building a public administration system that is clearly outdated and needs replacing - a system in which resource regions feed the whole country, and sometimes they stand with their outstretched hand when it comes to their own vital interests. Therefore, the first thing that should be abandoned is that from the vicious practice of carrying out in the vastnesses of the eastern lands, basically large state projects, without worrying about the technological progress going "in depth". In this sense, any alliances with those foreign partners are dangerous, which are only ready to take our resources from us, without caring (and why would they?) About increasing efficiency, about "technologicalization" of the Russian economy.
At a minimum, the global plans of the state policy towards Siberia (under which I understand the whole part of Russia that is located between the eastern slope of the Ural Mountains and the Pacific Ocean) also cause perplexity. For today, they too are a pure quasi-colonial approach. It means only "mastering" of resource-rich but sparsely populated territories, and not at all a redistribution of powers or the abandonment of unprofitable, pompous, initially unviable strategies and mega-programs in favor of developing the initiatives of the regions themselves. This is contrary to the practice of other countries (the same Canada, America, etc.), where the rate is placed on compact and effective regional projects independently implemented by the business community with the support and control of the state.
In my opinion, the main enemy of any development is the so-called "project thinking". It is impossible to ensure the progress of the region if one constantly poses unattainable goals or designate landmarks purely by bureaucratic logic. This, by the way, is described in detail in the book "The Siberian Blessing", which we, together with the Doctor of Economics, State Duma deputy Valery Zubov, have recently written and published in the run-up to the Eleventh Krasnoyarsk Krasnoyarsk Economic Forum.
- This forum, by the way, also discussed the report of the Valdai Club, prepared by a group of experts headed by Sergei Karaganov, "Towards the Great Ocean". Do their arguments also appeal to you?
- Is the Chinese threat really real?
- No, I'm not talking about China's expansion to the Far East. This is very unlikely. Moreover, they do not have such a policy at the state level either. The Chinese are so busy with themselves and their economic development that they have no sense of "stepping on" anywhere. Yes, and the standard of living in this country is still growing, and quite a decent pace. Speaking about the demographic aspect, the inhabitants of the Far East are much more often forced to leave "to the mainland" not Chinese expansion, but household discomfort, lack of work and life prospects. They are being replaced not by "alien" migrants, but by economic despair. To attract people to the Far East may be the emergence of a chance to solve the housing problem, the low cost of apartments and land, business benefits-in short, all that drove energetic and enterprising people to Vladivostok and to the same Chinese Shanghai at the beginning of the last century. There's nothing new you can think of: romance without an economic basis is unthinkable, but the economic factor can become decisive.
Speaking about the fact that the Chinese are "economic enemies", I mean something else. When we are talking about the fate of Siberia and the Far East and about joint projects with foreign investors in this vast territory, a natural question arises: what can the Chinese give us in terms, for example, of experience in developing deposits. China is not a raw country. And if you take any experience, it's more likely that Mongolia, a sovereign country that has a comparable population and resource potential, is comparable to some of our "Siberian" regions. It gives us an example of investment flexibility and ability to defend the interests of the country with the prospect of a future rather than a momentary benefit. We have not yet developed a copper deposit in Udokan, and the Mongols are already exploiting their own, almost identical. With the help of the British, Canadians and Australians - because reasonably judged that these are countries where you can learn advanced technologies. Americans do not allow the Mongols to join them - they can not be dealt with. And the Chinese are afraid, although they sell a lot, but in development and credit with them "are not friends." And this approach seems to me more robust than ours. The Chinese do not develop deposits that are similar to ours, therefore, except for loans on bail, we do not get resources from them.
- Something we have already received in the form of "best practices" and even try to apply - I mean the system of free economic zones and territories of priority development. Do you think this will have an effect somewhere near Magadan or Khabarovsk, just as it did in Shenzhen or Guangzhou?
- I do not think that direct parallels will work here. Too different "introductory" when creating these zones for us and in China 1970-80-x. The Central Committee of the CCP did not give direct instructions to invest a billion dollars in the Guangzhou free economic zone. There was another agreement between the state and business: we do not touch you, but you do not. The state allocated the territory and freed the business from taxes on profits for 10 years. On this, his "influence" was exhausted. Inside the zone, the business built the work as it saw fit. Hired Chinese workers, paid them a salary, made insurance contributions - and that's it. The state was no longer involved in its affairs and did not restrict freedom, although it provided the minimum necessary support for insurance and other social issues. That's why the real "zones of advanced development" appeared quickly enough. We have a different situation, and the main problem remains who controls these TORs and FEZs. Nobody, as far as I know, has yet calculated that in these zones there will be produced (and whether it will be possible at all) what the cost of production will be, whether it will be possible to sell it on the domestic and, even more, external market, where competition is acute enough. It is unclear who will want to come to these "territories" and why. But already now the regional authorities should report "on implementation" - although, in fact, our TOP projects, voiced from high bleachers, are in pure form fairy tales. A sort of "I do not know what, I do not know where and I do not know how much is unknown when." The problem is not to fence and ennoble the territory under some extended "business park". First of all, we need a clear plan for what will be a measure of mutual responsibility, what laws will be in effect, what, conditionally speaking, we plan to get at the entrance through this "checkpoint" and what is on the way out. While I can not find any clear answers to this with all the desire, I can not.
“But Chinese loans are a necessary thing for us too.” How else to build, for example, railways, to establish the entire infrastructure? We always have “sluggish joints, and the spaces are huge” ...
- You know, the construction of railways in BAM's likeness is also an echo of "project thinking", which is now essentially nonsense. There is, for example, a program for the development of the Far East, providing for the laying of a railway to Chukotka and then joining it to the BAM. But pulling such highways is only meaningful to the ocean, because it is by sea that most of the transportation of raw materials takes place, the rest are too expensive and therefore unprofitable. It is much easier to build one branch on Magadan, create a couple of new ports on the Pacific coast with high-tech processing zones - and ship it further. Pulling the way to Chukotka is a project with a high degree of idiocy. By the way, in the USA in Alaska there is only one railway branch - from the center of the state to Anchorage. On it to other places in America you will not reach. There is no point in such construction: the main products from Alaska are exported by sea. By the way, although there are quite serious oil and gas production there, the basis of Alaska's GDP is fish and seafood. There are far fewer oil workers here than fishermen and fish processing plant workers. As for China, more than 90% of those goods that it delivers to Boston, Washington, to European countries, go to the consumer by sea.
“However, the idea of a“ logistics corridor ”from the Far East to Europe through Russia is not so fantastic. In addition, commodity companies complain that, in fact, railways are clogged and transport is not so easy ...
- I do not argue - are clogged. The question is what. This is mainly coal and ore. And in each, for example, 40 million tons of coal and ore - only 2 million tons of finished rolled products at the output. It turns out that we carry "heavy emptiness" in huge trains. If the same Koreans are given the opportunity to build a turnkey processing plant in Russia, investments in it will be a dozen times less than the money spent for the same time on the transportation of raw materials by rail. In this case, a new enterprise, jobs, etc. will appear in Russia.
By the way, try to guess how much the length of the railway tracks in the world has increased since 1850, when the rails and sleepers were stacked with a kyle, up to 1914-go? At least the order of the numbers.
"I do not know, I can only guess." On 10, on 20 thousand kilometers?
- Take the above. For these 34 years in the XIX-XX centuries the length of railways in the world It was engendered on 770 thousands of kilometers! And the second question - what changes have occurred from 1913 to 2013 year?
- Nothing like this! The length of all railways in the world has decreased by 6 thousand kilometers. Only Americans dismantled two-thirds of their roads as useless. In California, led five branches, now left alone. The same thing happened in Europe.
And that's what you should keep in mind when planning and creating geopolitical or economic alliances. Areas of terrestrial land remote from the ocean coast for less than a hundred miles, constitute 9% of the total area of all continents of our planet (Antarctica does not count). However, this territory produces 68% of the world's gross product. The economy of the modern world is absolutely "maritime". From this point of view, the Eurasian Union, uniting the countries, of which none has access to the sea, looks like a strange construction. The whole world goes one way, we are at 180 degrees from progress.
- And what is the bad idea of the "Eurasian association" now, when relations with the West in Russia are quite tense? Thus, there is a huge territory, living according to general laws and rules, as experts and analysts repeatedly spoke about, stressing the geostrategic role of such alliances.
- You know, this hysteria around "huge spaces" is more a tribute to traditions and stereotypes. For example, Alexander Dugin speaks of "Heartland" (from the English Heartland - "core", middle land) as the focus of the continental masses of Eurasia in the form of a geographic springboard that allows for geopolitical control over the whole world. It is based on the ideas of the famous British geopolitician Halford Mackinder, put forward in the 1904 year. But let's take a closer look - what did Mackinder say and what was the reality of his time? He argued that the territories of Central Asia, Kazakhstan, South Siberia, etc. can be considered the most important geopolitical construct because they are far from the oceans, protected from aggression, and the technical capabilities and availability of railways give a chance to master them and make them a central element of the industrial base. And again we look at the date: 110 years ago. The economy has since become completely different. Space, unlike the sea, is already not needed by anybody - an example with a reduction in the length of railways proves this convincingly. Again the doctrine is purely theoretical, without "binding" to specific conditions and realities.
Russia should not artificially strive for integration with the countries of Asia and, on the contrary, nurture anti-Western and anti-American sentiments. Do not try to become an "empire," while simultaneously surrendering and actually plundering your resources, receiving little in return. To become great, it is enough for itself. Only in a new capacity and with a new consciousness.