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‘Developing Asian and Area Studies is a Huge Priority for the Next Decade’

Researchers and diplomats from 35 countries and eight Russian regional universities gathered at HSE University to discuss globalization in Asia and how it differs from what is taking place in Europe.

Yaroslav Kuzminov, HSE University Rector, opened the plenary session of the First International Conference on Globalization in Contemporary Asia, emphasizing the role of universities in general and HSE in particular in bringing together people from diverse social backgrounds and political interests in order to elaborate a joint view of the future. He noted that the main challenge facing Asian countries is the pursuit of unity, a feeling of common historical fate and a common cultural heritage.

According to Sergey Karaganov, Dean of the HSE Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs, the faculty’s experts have been engaged with Asia for the last 11 years by designing and bringing to life the concept of ‘Russia’s Turn to the East’.  The faculty is also home to the concept of ‘Big Eurasia’, which became an official Russian foreign policy concept three years ago. Today, one of the faculty’s key priorities, Sergey Karaganov believes, is developing a programme for new Asian Studies.

Developing Asian and area studies is a huge priority for the next decade

The faculty has all the resources necessary for that: it has brought together the country’s leading experts on Asia, who are elaborating new approaches to Asian studies. Joint departments with the RAS Institute of Oriental Studies and the RAS Institute of Far Eastern Studies, which have been founded at the faculty, will be the main drivers of this movement. Sergey Karaganov believes that the conference in international Asian studies, which has brought together leading orientalists, serves as a good start for the new programme.

The importance of fostering cooperation with Asian countries cannot be overstated, says Grigory Logvinov, ambassador-at-large of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a conference guest. He said that in today’s changing global political and economic environment, the pole is shifting toward the Asian region. New challenges and threats are emerging, and in addition to terrorism, industry-related problems like climate change and the environment are becoming relevant. This complicated situation requires joint work by researchers from different countries acting alongside government representatives, Logvinov said.

Seyed Mohammad Kazem Sajjad Pour, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran and an honorary guest of the conference, also spoke about the importance of academic exchange and joint research. He said that globalization means, above all, technological and economic evolution, which has changed the world. This includes not only economic reform, but social phenomena, including issues of identity, ideology, and political manipulation. Asia plays a key role in today’s world with its demonstration of rapid economic progress. At the same time, a number of conflict zones remain, some of which emerged as a result of globalization. Big countries are trying to dominate Asia, said Seyed Mohammad Kazem Sajjad Pour. Political and ideological aspects of globalization, such as human rights, are becoming a weapon against Asian players, not to mention Russia and Iran, which have been sanctioned via global financial institutions. Globalization processes should be managed by Asian countries themselves and lead to reduced costs and increasing profits.

Collective effort is essential to study Asia, and Russia plays a key role in this process

According to Iran’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, cooperation in Asia will be strengthening thanks to such big conferences aimed at expanding cooperation in academia, among other factors.

Meanwhile, assessing the profits and losses incurred by globalization remains essential. According to RAS member Vitaly Naumkin, Academic Supervisor of the RAS Institute of Oriental Studies, many experts believe that globalization has failed as a project, although as a process it is proceeding rapidly. Mass migration has become one of the main challenges in the contemporary world. Globalization is also hampered by chaotic international relations and expanding unpredictability.

Sergey Luzyanin, Director of the RAS Institute of Far Eastern Studies, believes that the problem of globalization concerns not only conflicting trends of openness and liberalism, on the one hand, and protectionism on the other. In fact, the future global and regional agenda for international development and cooperation is taking shape today.

Globalization issues in contemporary Asia can be assessed precisely only in the context of the global situation, said Andrey Baklanov, Professor at the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs School of International Regional Studies. It is often believed that if we create a multipolar world system, all the problems accumulated over decades of a monopolar world will disappear, but this is not the case. We have to think about the rational goal of developing international interaction both in Asia and globally. Baklanov says that an important role today is played by the international associations initiated by Asian countries, which have already started moving towards more sensible, sustainable international relations on the basis of consolidation and synergy of different countries and organizations.

China has suggested a clear concept of globalization that is stronger than the American one, says Vladimir Maliavin, a leading expert on China and Research Professor at HSE University. He believes that globalization is, first and foremost, an issue of information and communication that is capable of covering the entire world. In the new context created by information technology, China’s example clearly demonstrates that he spiritual and moral values of traditional cultures may be a powerful factor in global processes. The issues of society’s spiritual development should not be avoided, at least because the global information system is reigniting the question of what truth is, said Prof. Maliavin. Moral values come to the foreground, so it is necessary to move forward together and offer what today’s Russia is lacking. That said, Russia has all the capabilities for a breakthrough that will allow it to take a respectable place in the international globalization process, Maliavin believes.

This process can’t be ignored; we should understand it and make new attempts to plan for it, Kuzminov noted in his concluding remarks. Living outside the global economy is impossible, and the share of economies not included in the global competition will be shrinking each year. That’s why it is essential to build the new lines of thinking, and Asia is a good platform for such a project. ‘We are facing a really interesting challenge,’ Kuzminov concluded.

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