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VEF: from the "Potemkin village" to the "global city"

How the Eastern Economic Forum will help Vladivostok become one of the Asian capitals

VEF: from the "Potemkin village" to the "global city"
Photo: TASS / VEF photo bank

Leonid Blyakher

Professor, Head of the Department of Philosophy and Culturology of the Pacific State University, Doctor of Philosophy
In the first decade of September, the largest economic forum in the region will take place in the capital of Primorye. Already the third in a row. It is customary to write about the Eastern Economic Forum carefully. Yes, something happened, but there are a lot of problems, the organization here and here pumped up, whether investments will be, or not. Perehvalish now, and then nothing will come of it. Yes, and that, in fact, should go out? That's about it makes sense to talk.

The idea that as soon as the Far Eastern regions submit their projects, a golden rain of foreign investment will pour into the territory, hundreds of enterprises with tens of thousands of jobs instantly build, a full galactic chess tournament, etc. will take place, it does not seem particularly sensible. Such iridescent pictures were drawn except by official officials. What then?

The Far East for most of the world, and even for Russia - the region is mysterious, almost unknown. To go there far, and the meaning is not obvious. So they did not go. During the entire Soviet period, the region was, first of all, a military outpost, and a place where completely free workers in quilted jackets with numbers were forged "the golden shield of the motherland". In 90, a slow entry into the APR economy began. It began with cross-border trade. Yes, and it ended. The scale of trade, of course, grew. Region she fed. But its volumes did not go to any comparison with the trade between the countries of the macroregion. And the trade itself was completely "colonial". The raw material was exported abroad (at the prices for which they bought), consumer goods, technology and technology were going back. The reason is simple - the region, and the country in the APR did not have its own trading platform, its "global city".

The modern world economy is arranged in a very peculiar way. Its key elements are concentrated in special centers - global cities. Historically, these were cities where trade routes (sea and land, sea and river, etc.) were connected. If the city could provide minimal security to traffickers, then people began to trade here. Such were the medieval León, Genoa and Venice, such were Amsterdam, London and Frankfurt in the Modern Times. Gradually, in the shopping centers there was a necessary logistics infrastructure, the hospitality industry. In convenient trading cities, the largest banks opened their offices. Because there was much to invest.

In a city with a lot of money and good (convenient) trading, new production facilities opened, it was easier to find an investor under the idea. And, in general, it's easier to find your "place under the sun". As a result, the most talented, restless, adventurous people begin to arrive in the global city. Here, the flow of goods from the entire adjoining territory begins to converge. This, sometimes a huge, territory scientists called "good". The global city attracted people, money, resources. And, without any violence. It's just that it was more profitable to work there, and it's more profitable to trade, and to live more comfortably. It was there that the world stock exchanges were located, the most developed leisure and social infrastructure, the largest universities and mass media, theaters and film studios, scientific and technical centers, there were innovations. They global city "paid" with the adjacent territory. In addition, because of the high cost of labor and raw materials in the global city, he inevitably began to export to his periphery production and capital. But this is if the territory is close. And if not?

Then the resources and people continued to flow out of the remote periphery, and the oncoming traffic was extremely weak. Something similar happened and is happening to the Far East of Russia. And for the centers in the APR, and for their own country (in Russia, one global city - Moscow), the Far East turned out to be a far periphery. Resources, technologies, innovations flowed there only under the strongest pressure of the state, and only when the state was "on the rise." The slightest failure, and about the far periphery "forgotten". That's why we needed our own trading platform, our own global city in the region. And finding a better candidate for him than Vladivostok is difficult in the region.

Here the port and Transsib converge. It is not good here, but the hospitality industry is better developed than anywhere else in the region, there are already long-term stable ties with Japan, Korea and China. It was not by chance that in the pre-revolutionary years it was here that the “fish” and “forest” exchanges worked, setting prices for products throughout the macroregion. Large-scale reconstruction of Vladivostok was the first step on this path. Today they write a lot that money was spent inefficiently, the reconstruction was carried out wrong. May be. I am not an urbanist, not a builder - not for me to judge. But the fact that for the first time in a century the city has been radically renewed is a fact.

However, a one-time action does not create a global city. This takes decades. Not immediately, but gradually, the logistics infrastructure is developing, financial instruments and operators are being formed, administrative procedures are being simplified, cargo handling is accelerating and much more. This is how the forum works, as well as many other events that are held in Vladivostok. With each of them a little, but the hotel fund is increasing, the transport situation is improving. People from neighboring countries "get used" to this site.

Once the most illustrious prince PG. Potemkin-Tavrichesky, in order to show the Empress Mother how the life in the country flourished under her rule, ordered to build along the monarchy's journey to the southern journey the sham villages and expose the mocked peasants. This "show-off" and was called "Potemkin villages." But it was only afterwards that the villages were built exactly on these places, paved roads, plowed the earth. "Potemkin villages" were not so much an imitation, as a time-appropriate PR project, an attempt to construct a desired future.

Something similar is happening with the WEF. Yes, for now this is even more the report of the governors and the Ministry of the East Development on the work done before the main investor of our country, furnished with the speeches of businessmen and lit up by the "pool" of journalists. But soon (not tomorrow, but not through the centuries), a PR project can heal with its quite real life. Indeed, as a result of the decision of the main investor or major investors, money is still invested in the region, and not always in PR. Sometimes in quite sane projects. Port facilities are growing, hotels, warehouses, shopping centers are being built, roads are being repaired. Yes, I would probably like it better and faster. But what happens is what happens.

There is, however, another circumstance, extremely important, for the emergence of a global city in the Russian Far East - global cities, for the most part, lie away from the places of residence and spawning of officials. Just the lack of them makes doing business easy, convenient and relatively cheap. In the meantime, there are more and more officials in Vladivostok. It is the officials who are trying today to come up with a mechanism by which it will be possible to protect the business from officials in uniform and without. It would seem that it would be wiser to simply “remove” them from the city, or at least minimize their number. But while we go a special way. However, already the fact that such a problem (protection from officials) is worth it, can not but rejoice. Suddenly, they will succeed.
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