Country Report: Russia (July 2019)

Russian authors continued to show a preference for big questions. What is the character of the transformation under way in Northeast Asia? How has history been altered by developments in Sino-Soviet relations worthy of further investigation? Is an Indo-Russian alliance within reach with transformative impact on the regional order? Is conflict between Russia and China just the imagination of the West or a possibility deserving of Russian concern and interest in trilateral talks on strategic weapons? What conclusions should Russia draw from the Sino-US trade war? The propensity to view the region through a wide lens did not, however, rule out attention to such developments as the Trump-Kim summit at the DMZ, the massive demonstrations in Hong Kong, and the worsening of Japan-ROK relations—all occurring within a week in early summer.

Northeast Asia

In Rossiya v Global’noi Politike Aleksandr Lukin and Dmitrii Novikov wrote about a book edited by Torkunov and Strel’tsov on the transformation of Northeast Asia. They note that although especially from 2012-14 the region gained a big place in the hierarchy of Russia’s foreign policy priorities, few serious academic works on its international relations have appeared in Russian. Even in the foreign literature, it is usually subsumed in a wider context or seen narrowly through distinct problems. With Transformation of International Relations in Northeast Asia and the National Interests of Russia, the gap has been partly filled. Russia interests are seen to be, above all, integration of its Far East and Siberia and attraction of economic resources for its development, as well as a fuller involvement of Russia in the political and economic process of the region. The book proceeds at three levels: national, regional, and inter-regional with attention to sub-regional systems within the international system. Unique to the region is: conflict between the two Koreas and the almost complete absence of institutions in support of security; enormous economic interdependencies along with sharp economic and political contradictions linked to a difficult historical context and rising competition for regional leadership, against the background of a world order in transformation. Similar to postwar Europe, the region has weak institutions and enormous potential for conflict, urgent need for economic cooperation for development and to enable some states to overcome deep mutual distrust, and rising competition of superpowers. Yet, the area is much more complex than Europe in the 1940s-50s, posing an intellectual challenge to forge an international system. The authors of the book analyze the historical context, but they concentrate on events of the past 2-3 years to forecast the region’s direction useful for the effectiveness of Russia’s strategy.

One of the main questions is whether Northeast Asia comprises an autonomous system of international relations, as in managing inter-Korean problems. At present fragmenting Asia into tinier regions often seems artificial, and a tendency has strengthened to extend the regions, such as the Indo-Pacific region. Northeast Asia is just one field of competition of the US and China. Analysis of Russo-Chinese relations and their influence on the transformation of Northeast Asia demands attention to such factors as the docking of the EEU and the Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB) and the concept of a Great Eurasian partnership. Russia is integrating not into Northeast Asia but into Eurasia. The American factor appears as an unconstructive factor in resolving critical political problems, standing in the way of creating a new security architecture. Given the rising impact of domestic factors, their omission is a problem in the book, the review indicates. The strongest part of the work is the analysis of Russian national interests and possibilities to strengthen Russia’s regional position. A regional FTA of China, Japan, and South Korea would force Russia to integrate through the EEU. The review fails, however, to mention what Russia needs to do differently in its relationship with any country, the reviewers remark.

Sino-Soviet legacy

On the occasion of the 30th anniversary since the 1989 normalization of relations, Ambassador Leonid Moiseev in Mezhdunarodnaya Zhizn’ recalled some episodes from history that led to normalization after the low point in relations in 1969. Already in September of that year the two premiers agreed on initial steps to end the ensuing crisis⁠—the first “mini-normalization.” In 1970 ambassadors were exchanged, but ideological polemics of the time stood in the way. In January 1974 a spy scandal unfolded, China sent home five people at Russia’s embassy and Russia retaliated. Inertia kept ties bad after 1976 despite many changes in China’s policies. At the time of the Sino-Vietnam war, Soviet troops gathered at the Chinese border to exert pressure. Tank maneuvers occurred. Yet talks avoided any ideological discussions, and signs of normalization could be seen in 1979 on the border demarcation issue. At this time, the negotiators found that Moscow insisted on an uncompromising show of force with the aim of forcing China to stop its aggression against Vietnam. In 1982 Reagan’s hard line on Taiwan and Polish events boosted talks as did Suslov’s death and Brezhnev’s Tashkent speech in March. It was clear that the USSR had not wavered in backing China on Taiwan. In 1982 China specialists, including the author, were sent to embassies to follow events in China closely, reporting with care to Moscow, that China was shifting its approach toward the US and USSR, at odds with information at the center positing an anti-Soviet alliance. By 1984 a real thaw was under way, producing a modus operandi in the territorial talks, progress on exchange visits, and removal of anti-Soviet positions in party and official documents, but propaganda aimed at each other continued. China did not respond to the moratorium on criticism in Soviet publications, and Soviet authors, paid handsomely for propaganda, seized any chance to resume their efforts. In April 1984 China’s army began new provocations on the border with Vietnam, causing concern before major restoration of economic cooperation at the end of 1984 and in the first half of 1985. Both sides knew that political normalization would boost their position in world politics but proceeded very cautiously not to damage the process. Deng probed first right after Gorbachev took office, expressing willingness to meet to discuss normalization if Moscow pressed Vietnam to pull its troops from Cambodia, leaving other issues for later. Finally, when Gorbachev in 1989 met Deng, he chose not to answer when Deng gave a kind of historical lecture, focusing on the future, as Deng had indicated China would do. The message from a veteran of this endeavor ignores the cost of delay in a process that required more effort than it should have while highlighting the momentum that was building toward the results seen today.

Iurii Tavrovskii on June 3 recalled Tiananmen demonstrations, especially his experience in May 1989 accompanying Gorbachev, when, he says, the fate of the Soviet Union was decided. Gorbachev was deeply affected by what he witnessed on the square, deciding that he could not follow the Chinese path despite recommendations to the contrary given to him prior to his visit. Chinese leaders who met with him called for shifting the accent of perestroika, which was destabilizing the Soviet Union. He met with Zhao Ziyang, called the Chinese Gorbachev for his advocacy of political reform. Deng at this time was little inclined to share China’s experience and give advice. Already staring into an erupting volcano, Zhao was in shock. Gorbachev did not stay for June 4, and he did not know that Moscow too would experience uncontrollable crowds and he would suffer a fate similar to Zhao’s. Beijing and Moscow simultaneously faced deepening crises, which Tavrovskii argues was not coincidental since in 1949 Mao followed the Soviet model and then tried to skip stages. The model could not be fixed, which Khrushchev had tried at the cost of Sino-Soviet relations, until Deng succeeded in convergence of a planned and market economy despite economic and political problems that ensued. Rejecting those who supported the youth and those who sought cruel repression of the protests, Deng took responsibility and made the decision that saved the fate of the nation. As many in the leadership insistently called for him to follow the “Tiananmen variant,” Gorbachev lacked the will to do so, driving the party to self-liquidation and the country to collapse. This proved not the failure of socialism as an economic and social formation, but the danger of one-man leadership when his caliber is not up to the challenge of history, unlike in the case of Deng. That is the message conveyed to Russian readers.

Indo-Russian relations

In Rossiya v Global’noi Politike, Aleksei Kupriianov, Aleksandr Korolev, and, from India, Nanndan Unikrishnan, wrote about Russia and India as the third force in the new world order. They said that the US and China may be convinced that a second cold war can be avoided with awareness of the price of extending it to the third world. Unlike the first case, this one is not about ideas but about imperialism. The US and China are similar in seeking to extend their influence and status as a world hegemon in the world market system. This time around armed actions will be exceeded by trade wars, cyberespionage, one-sided sanctions, and local conflicts in the “Third World.” Currencies will be manipulated and elites bought off in a search for loyal clients, giving states a choice to side with one or another hegemon. As in the first Cold War, each side will seek to limit the sphere of influence of the other. As great powers with a big say over the future balance of forces, India and Russia’s responses can form the basis of an unofficial, non-military alliance for positive globalization⁠—a “movement of peaceful development.” In a period reminiscent of the run-up to WWI when economic interests drove policies, the effort to forge a G2 has failed, and other states need to take sides or find another pathway, argue the authors. 

The alternatives ahead are a cold war that stays cold (primarily economic) or one that turns into a hot war. In the first type, both powers have a chance to win. In the second, the Pacific Ocean is the main battleground, drawing in their closest allies. Russia and India need to be careful in their choice. Russia controls the North, India has a key position controlling the routes of South Eurasia and access to East Africa. They are swing powers, striving for multipolarity, who can demand coalitions to resolve concrete problems and block unipolar or bipolar mechanisms. The authors refer to Russia as the leading power in the Arctic-Pacific region and to Russia and India as complementary in trade routes between Europe and Asia. If Russia allied with China or India with the US, the dynamics would shift. They could guarantee the loss of either hegemon if they worked together. Yet optimal for both is maximally to maintain their strategic autonomy. Much is made of the reasons why India should avoid siding with the US—to avoid escalation of border conflicts, to maximize its own development, and to gain access to technology and arms. To side with China would contradict its intent to become a great power. An alliance with Russia is ideal.

The authors proceed to showcase similarities between Russia and India, adding that India of all Asian countries never part of the Soviet Union is mentally closest to Russia—the narrowest gap in civilizations. Both oppose interference in their internal affairs and support globalization with a more just world order. Remarkable to readers may be the claims that Russia opposes a new cold war, supports globalization, and is inclined to distance itself from China (although there is little said about that). Indeed, the main message is that India can have ties with the US and Russia with China as long as they do not become vassals—a simplistic sleight of hand⁠—if the extreme is avoided that suffices for the scenario in which the two become allies and pillars of a third center of gravity centered on peace and stability, as each acts or turns to the East.

How can Russia and India help each other? Readers are told that Russia can act to guarantee India’s interests in Afghanistan, as if Russia would defy Pakistan as well as China, and India is able to facilitate Russian business to return to Africa. Other potential partners include Iran, the states of Southeast Asia, some in the Middle East, and even the EU. Yet, problems exist: a lack of elite contacts, the Indian press coverage that Russia is a Chinese vassal and supports Pakistan, the Russian coverage that India is ready to become a US junior partner and Russia is losing out, and insufficiency of military cooperation rendering them unable to engage in joint operations. The answer, readers learn, is to form a kind of alliance to overcome all of the shortcomings and show the US and China a different path, enabling Russia to restore the lost position of the USSR.

Sino-Russian relations

In Rossiya v Global’noi Politike Vasilii Kashin asks if conflict between Russia and China, predicted in the West, is unavoidable. He notes that many radical attempts by Moscow and Beijing to accelerate progress in relations have turned out largely unsuccessful, but the gap in separate projects, the short-term closeness of Russia and the US after September 11, and the economic crises of 2009 and 2014 also could not halt the development of relations. Year by year China occupies a more significant place in Russia’s foreign trade and military and political cooperation advances some. The West since the late 1990s at first ignored the partnership as if this were a naïve tactical move by both to strengthen their position in dialogue with the US, even as Russia began to help China achieve an unprecedented leap in 1-2 generations of military technology, enabling China by the start of the 2010s to become a military great power. This obliged the US to redirect its military planning mainly in an “anti-Chinese” direction. Finally, the significance of this bilateral relationship was impossible to ignore; so it was treated as if would not endure.

Western predictions have been proven false: not only did China’s demographic expansion not materialize, Chinese fled the Northeast for the flourishing megalopolises of South China; after the devaluations of the ruble in 2009 and 2014, Chinese workers found it absurd to head to Russia in large numbers; the problem became failure to attract Chinese investors; economic competition in Central Asia was limited; Russia and China are present in different sectors of the local economies with Russia attracting labor and sending imports, while Chinese draws natural resources, and countries balance the two as Russia and China keep their competition under control. Finally, in the last stage of repudiation of the future of Sino-Russian cooperation, Westerners saw Russia rejecting the prospect of being a “junior partner.” Such naïve arguments avoid the essence of the question since alliances are based on political, not economic factors.

Russia lacks debts to China, unlike 20th century debts in Europe to the US. Russia takes care not to give China effective, long-term instruments that could be used to pressure it. In December 2014 at the moment of its financial crisis, Russia rejected China’s offer of financial help. Russia is cautious about joint projects, as seen in its meager participation in BRI despite supporting it at the political level, and in March 2019 Putin postponed indefinitely the Moscow-Kazan’ high-speed railway despite its political salience for bilateral relations. It is hard to imagine how China could use an economic imbalance to pressure Russia, given the dominance of Russian energy exports or would deny military and dual-use imports. Only in areas very close to China, as in North Korea does it take the lead, i.e. China is more dependent on Russia in international affairs. While one should not idealize Russo-Chinese relations and can expect ups and downs, artificial schemes do not fit them.

Aleksandr Gabuev in Kommersant on June 7 wrote about the inundation at the St. Petersburg forum of Chinese businessmen and officials, an unprecedented presence of one country at this forum. Is this not evidence of the improbably high level of the bilateral economic partnership? of the long-awaited flow of Chinese investments? Gabuev explains that there is no reason for such hopes; these visitors were accompanying Xi Jinping in return for a large delegation from Russia accompanying Putin at the recent BRI forum. This is a common pattern to be seen by the leader of your country, not meaning that projects discussed will be heard from again. China is ten times larger economically and in population; so more people accompany Xi. In 2019, five years after the dramatic Putin visit to Shanghai, Russia receives just 2 percent of Chinese direct foreign investment—minimal if one looks at private investment rather than those of state companies and institutions such as the Silk Road Fund. A reason many Chinese cite is the way Michael Calvey, one of the most successful foreign investors, has been imprisoned, as reported in the global financial news. Gabuev reports that he has no response to those concerns.

A special Kommersant project produced an article on China’s army and its relative strength in comparison to Russia’s, tracing the history of a 350-year old relationship that has changed often. It declares that it could change again at any moment; it is necessary to understand what kind of possibilities are present across a 4,209 km border. How has China’s military doctrine changed? How have its technology changed in comparison to other countries? How have its management structure, territorial organization, nuclear weapons, and capacity for innovation changed? While no overall conclusion is drawn, the impression is of a formidable force across the border.

In Sravnitel’naya Politika, No. 2, Aleksandr Lukin and Vasilii Kashin discuss Russo-Chinese cooperation and security in the Asia-Pacific region, insisting that the closeness of the two is a fundamental feature of the changing system of international relations even if both pursue an independent foreign policy. Complementing each other—Russia leads in the military, intelligence, and diplomatic areas, while China is an economic superpower⁠—they have made Central Asia into a sphere of cooperation, extended cooperation to South Asia with the entry of India and Pakistan into the SCO, and coordinate closely on the Korean Peninsula. Preparations are advanced for a military alliance, although neither government is politically prepared. These tendencies are now tightly associated with the idea of forming Greater Eurasia, the authors state. Parallel identities are cited from Western sources, no longer perceived in Russia as predicting a Sino-Russian split. The US is confronting China more sharply, while the root of the conflict between the West and Russia is the lack of a consensus on Russia’s international role. Stress is put on the Security Council playing the central role in the new world order, steering competition to avoid confrontation. Countries will maintain their unique economic models, ideologies, and political structures. In Putin’s first years he was ready to enter the Greater West, but his stance was seen as weakness by the West, which moved its military machine closer to Russian borders. Russia’s turn to Asia was accelerated along with awareness that, culturally, it is not part of the West but autonomous. Russia’s military cooperation, to a significant degree, enabled China to become a major military power and to skip stages in arms advances. As reassurance to Russia, China pursued broader global aims corresponding to Russia’s interests. As a pair they could weaken the US role and advance a multipolar international system.

The article explains that Russia conducts a fully independent security policy in Asia, including with China’s rivals (Vietnam and India) and with the US ally, South Korea, and does not in any way coordinate with China on its territorial dispute with Japan. Yet, it emphasizes coordination on the Korean Peninsula with the exception of November 2016 when China discussed with the US new sanctions and did not consult with Russia, later recognizing this shortcoming, and in 2017 the level of joint planning intensified. Cooperation on the South China Sea is less, but it has been growing since 2014, even if at times China has mischaracterized the Russian position. Russia supported China’s rejection of the court decision on the South China Sea. While Russia avoids direct involvement in the most serious problems of regional security in the Asia-Pacific region, it influences the main problem by limiting the possibility of the US repositioning its arm forces from the Middle East and Europe in the direction of Asia. A formal alliance of Russia and China is technically within reach after much work to prepare the soil, but politically it awaits a situation where the security of both states is simultaneously under threat, the authors foresee.

Vladimir Mukhin on July 16 in Nezavisimaya Gazeta wrote that China’s nuclear weapons threaten not only the US but also Russia. As US-Russian consultations on strategic stability are beginning in Geneva, the Americans are interested in drawing China into the discussion of questions about reduction and control over strategic nuclear weapons and are asking to know how Russia views this matter. Trump raised the issue with Putin and Xi in Osaka. One Russian analyst is quoted saying that more than 90 percent of the rocket-nuclear potential of China is directed at Russia, not the US. A Chinese official in May declared that it does not intend to take part in three-way talks on this since its nuclear forces are kept to a minimum for defense of the country. However, these are only words. Americans hold Chinese forces in high regard and demand participation, and Russian military experts also are concerned. Russia face a new reality in preserving strategic stability. The threat is growing not only from the US but also from other countries. Moscow has reason to listen to the Americans and be more active in seeking the PRC’s involvement in international negotiations on the control over nuclear weapons.

Sino-US relations

In Profil’ on July 8 Vasilii Kashin asked what conclusions should Russia draw from the Sino-US trade war. Noting the passing on July 6 of one year since the start of the trade war—when China began its retaliatory tariffs and the US fixation on China beyond other targets was confirmed⁠—he asserts that the negative trade balance for the US has only increased since then, and China’s stimulus measures have so far compensated for the losses in exports, despite their distorting effect. Both China and the US have relied on budget deficits; US optimism that China will yield due to its unsustainable approach is misplaced, readers are told. All major players in world politics, with the possible exception of India, are going through a serious crisis and need to change their model of development—parallel to the events at the beginning of the 20th century. The US deficit is unavoidable, and cutbacks on imports from China will only lead to more imports from other countries. The real US motive is to contain China as a competitor. The trade war is one element, along with technological competition, military and foreign policy pressure, intensified intelligence and counter-intelligence pressure, and propaganda mixed with undercover political activities. The trade war aims to get Western companies to transfer their operations from China and to block Chinese high-tech leaders in foreign markets and in access to foreign technology. This process has begun, but it will not transpire very quickly.

China will have time to restructure its economy as this long-running confrontation takes shape. Delay is more useful to China than the US since China faces greater technological challenges in the “divorce.” China is prepared to pay a price for postponing the worst of the clash, increasing its purchases of US production, but the US will not easily agree. In the process, ideological myths of recent decades will be exposed as people recognize that cooperation of world leaders in high technology is a source of vulnerability and that the drive of great powers for hegemony is more important than cooperation or international division of labor. Armies and weapons are more important than “soft power.” Hope that big business in the West investing in your country will restrain attacks are baseless. Major countries now must ensure production on their own territory of vital technologies, ignoring warnings of uncompetitiveness. Free competition is a myth. Choosing either US or Chinese 5G is a recipe for spying on your country. Taking shape are closed technological alliances. The Sino-US conflict is only beginning and will last for decades, and Russia’s strategy of development must take this into account, we read.

On June 25 Sergei Tsyplakov in Nezavisimaya Gazeta wrote of the Trump-Xi summit in Osaka, which had been in doubt as each side blamed the other for not reaching a compromise. China insisted on the removal of all tariffs, purchases for a balanced trade outcome had to be real, and the text of the agreement had to be balanced rather than one side making demands of the other. Chinese firmly opposed being seen as the weaker, losing party. The key throughout for China is not to be seen as yielding to pressure. However, the US prefers to up the pressure and to block Chinese high-tech companies’ ties to American partners claiming national security. The conflict rose to a qualitatively new level. There was little hope for Osaka, but exacerbation of the confrontation is not in the interest of either side. Neither has room for error.

US-North Korean relations

On June 30 Georgy Toloraya in Mezhdunarodnaya Zhizn’ argued that the Trump-Kim meeting could have quite serious significance. The article calls North Korea’s proposal at Hanoi more realistic than the US one, but it was not understood by the US side for lack of preparation time, as Bolton made demands directed at torpedoing the negotiations. Yet, in June US political circles shifted to recognizing the justice in a stage-by-stage approach with parallel concessions and slow, careful forward movement. Even if North Korea ends up keeping its nuclear weapons, reducing the nuclear threat is better than exacerbating the situation, and it seems the US side has come to that conclusion. The latest Trump-Kim meeting ended the dead-end in talks and gave impetus for working levels talks that could even lead to Kim visiting Washington. The chances of a return to confrontation are reduced. All are satisfied, even South Koreans despite Moon Jae-in being excluded, given his role as peacemaker and middleman. This was the first three-sided meeting, a very good format for the future—in line with Russian understanding that questions of security on the Korean Peninsula should be resolved in a multisided format.

On July 10 in RSMD the Trump-Kim summit was assessed by Konstantin Asmolov as no spoiler. It was a media phenomenon but nothing that will change the status quo in US-DPRK relations. He supports this conclusion with comments on what had transpired after the Hanoi summit. In April a South Korean official was already talking about the possibility of a three-way summit if Trump were to come to Seoul, but US and North Korean statements did not suggest progress in narrowing differences, despite claims of a “beautiful” and “warm” letter. Relations remained volatile to the time of the summit amid accusations of ruining the spirit of the agreements or not being ready for negotiations. Both sides were ready for a third summit despite questions about the chances of achieving results. The US-DPRK summit overshadowed the formal visit of Trump to Seoul, which is connected to the fact that problems exist between the two allies. Not only is Washington troubled by Seoul rushing ahead with Pyongyang but also by information on the position of the North from Seoul not always being correct, which also applies to the North feeding Putin and Xi such information. Moon strives to boost triangularity, as if without Seoul Washington and Pyongyang would not be able to proceed. Prior trump’s meeting with the heads of the biggest Korean companies on June 30, the US embassy asked for data on their investments in the US. Trump thanked them for their interest and then asked them to make increased investments, while also asking for participation in his boycott of Huawei. As for the Trump-Kim summit, Russia and China should be satisfied, readers are informed even if the process will not produce results and the ongoing process is maximally drawn out as a show.

Hong Kong

Kashin in Forbes on June 19 wrote about what Beijing wants from Hong Kong, claiming linkage to the trade war, which forces Beijing to intensify control over the financial sector in Hong Kong. The real reason China initiated the legal change on extradition was economic, Kashin insists, at a time the role of the territory is changing. Among the crimes listed are white collar ones. China already has the tools to influence the important means of communication, the bureaucracy, and the police in Hong Kong, while big business must reckon with Beijing’s opinion. The problem was not democracy but the role of Hong Kong in Chinese FDI and as the main entry of money hidden abroad, enabling a vast outflow of capital from the PRC now intensifying in the trade war. This was understood by Hong Kong business, some of which is shifting to Singapore. As the trade war with the US intensifies, it is critical for China to intensify control over the financial sector in Hong Kong, Kashin concludes, anticipating that it will try again and warning that if Hong Kong cannot adopt to new conditions, its existence as a financial center will be over.

Mikhail Korostikov for the Moscow Carnegie Center forecasts that Hong Kong will wind up as just another Chinese city. The current uprising cannot resolve the problems building up over years. The desire to preserve Hong Kong as an offshore financial center and model for “one country, two systems” will not survive. Noting that Chinese justice is dictated by political rather than legal forces and that Hong Kong citizens are using the British legacy of rights to free speech and assembly, Korostikov points to the millions of demonstrators and their demands, but he argues that the essence of the problem is the impossible demand for sovereignty. The PRC supplies 80 percent of fresh water and more than 90 percent of produce, energy, and electricity. So far, its response is restrained, as it seeks to show residents what chaos democracy can cause. Shenzhen has surpassed Hong Kong economically, migrants from the PRC are often rich and rarely speak Cantonese, housing prices are the highest in the world, and the youth cannot cope with a loss of financial security and freedom. While the struggle may cause Beijing to refrain from infringing on rights for a time, Xi Jinping’s approach to Tibet and Xinjiang reveals his penchant for making the country homogeneous, the July 5 article warns its readers.

SNOB on July 5 carried an article on Hong Kong too, stressing the violence of the past few days and the suspicions that Beijing was seeking to intensify control and deny freedoms enjoyed in colonial times. It cites Andrei Ostrovskii, who predicts a repeat of the “yellow umbrella” movement through repression until the next outburst and argues that the extradition law came due to Taiwan authorities seeking a suspected murderer. He points to worries of businessmen in Hong Kong that the response to the demonstrations will lead to harsher control. Further, he traces the problem to dissatisfaction with the turnover to China in the 1990s. In turn, Aleksei Maslov says that Hong Kong society loves to protest, whether against Great Britain or the PRC. It is the students and yuppies acting with little interest from those concerned about tomorrow. The local financial sector is fearful of losing appeal for international business and of coming under the “Great Chinese firewall” with loss of free exchange of information. This movement is more inclined to radical action than the “yellow umbrellas,” raising placards “Hong Kong is not China.” Yet the extradition law is a proper response to economic crimes. If China stayed on the sidelines Chinese would call Xi Jinping weak, to respond risks charges of violating international agreements and depriving people of democratic rights. For Aleksandr Lomanov, the key cause is an identity crisis of young people. If not Chinese, who are they? Holding up the flag of Hong Kong as a British colony was a mistake, turning off Chinese who regard the history of dependency since 1840 with antipathy. The Hong Kong elite seeks to use the protests in dealing with Beijing, but now the situation is out of control; business will turn away, needing stability.

Japan-South Korean relations

On July 6 Aleksei Anpilogov in Vzgliad wrote of Japan entering a war of a different sort versus South Korea, which could destroy an entire sector important for current industry as a response to court processes in South Korea. Anpilogov points to huge advances for Korea in the period of Japanese occupation but marred by discrimination and eventually by forced labor. The 1965 normalization agreement did not resolve individual labor compensation, leaving clashing views on whether the issue was settled and Japanese fearing unending compensation demands into the future. On July 1 Japan imposed export sanctions on chemicals critical for production of semi-conductors and other products in South Korea. Noting the power of sanctions, the author mentions that those on Russia since 2014 do not formally forbid the export of oil and gas but almost completely cut Russia off from high-tech equipment in this sector, setting Russia back five years. Huawei is hit hard by its dependence on monopoly suppliers. Now South Korea is the latest victim of “wars of high technology,” reminiscent of events in WWII, concludes the article.