We have lost the West, but we have discovered ‘the rest’: Dugin

Children wave Chinese and Russian flags before a welcome ceremony for Russian President Vladimir Putin outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on May 16, 2024 Photo: VCG

Children wave Chinese and Russian flags before a welcome ceremony for Russian President Vladimir Putin outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on May 16, 2024 Photo: VCG

Editor Note:

Russian political philosopher and analyst Aleksandr Dugin
(Dugin), whom some Western media call the “Putin’s brain,” is one of the most controversial scholars in Russia and has now joined China’s social media platforms such as Sina Weibo and Bilibili, to seek more and deeper communication with Chinese web users and scholars. 

Before the announcement of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s state visit to China, Global Times
(GT) reporter Yang Sheng had an exclusive interview with Dugin in Moscow, where he shared his views about China-Russia relations and responses to some sharp and critical comments made by Chinese netizens on his opinions.  

Some questions and answers have been edited for brevity and clarity

GT: How do you predict the outcome of President Putin’s state visit to China and also the future about the China-Russia relations?

Dugin: In diplomacy there are many things that have symbolic meanings. This is Putin’s first foreign visit after his reelection and inauguration. This visit is, however, quiet unique. There is something more behind – the will of the creation of a multipolar world. 

China is not just a part of Western capitalist, liberal, economic and political system, but it’s already out of this system. China participates in it, it’s connected with it, but it is a totally independent pole, a sovereign and civilizational state. So, there is no question about China representing such a sovereign pole and pillar of multipolar world order.

The other pillar is Russia. When these two pillars of a multipolar world are meeting and communicating, it’s to show the will to continue to build this multipolarity with the two most important instances of it. The world today is not unipolar anymore, so the hegemony of the Western power is over. 

Thanks to this communication and cooperation between two poles or two pillars (China and Russia), the other countries and regions also want to join “the multipolar club,” such as India, the Islamic world, Africa and Latin America.

That doesn’t mean we are constructing or building alliance against someone. Now, if the West accepts multipolarity, they can participate in the construction of this multipolar world. But if the West continues to oppose an emergence of this multipolarity, we will be obliged to fight against this attempt, not against the West, but against hegemony.

We have seen already many times that when the West declares something they pursue, they presume that there is the “rules-based world order.” But when it comes to contradiction with their interests, they simply change that position. 

They invited China into the open global market, but when China started to gain an edge, some Western countries started to impose some protectionist measures against China. They change the rules to serve their own interests, because they are “the rules.” 

Together, we want to defend against any attempt to destroy this multipolarity or to maintain hegemony of any power in the world. 

GT: How could Russia overcome all those difficulties and challenges that it has experienced in the past two years since the outbreak of the Ukraine crisis in 2022? A series of sanctions have been launched by the Western world against Russia, but last year we see that according to the data released by the Russian government, the Russian economy has realized about 3.6% GDP growth in 2023.

Dugin: In order to answer your question, we need to research different versions of the participation and globalization process. You Chinese have very special experience in that. You entered the globalization as more or less a country delayed in its development. And during and after reforms you have managed to use the participation in globalization to your favor. You have taken all the positive sides of that and to save and reinforce the sovereignty and the rule of the Communist Party of China (CPC). These have guaranteed your country some kind of stability.

Russian experience of participation in the globalization was quite different. First of all, we lost order. We lost our geopolitical system, including our control over Eastern Europe. We lost Warsaw Pact countries and gave them to NATO. We accepted Western values, Western systems, Western type of constitution, and we lost the Soviet Union. 

We also lost our industries, our economy and our financial system. We lost everything during the 1990s. So those are two different experiences of the globalization process. China’s style is better and realized the fast growth while also preserving its own independence and sovereignty. Now the wisdom of Deng Xiaoping and the CPC, during all of these decades, is clearly manifested.

Putin, when he came to power, he started to restore this sovereignty of Russia step by step. Sovereignty was put at the center of his politics. And when we were cut from the globalist Western economy, we did not lose anything. But we gained because we were obliged to the will of our own, even this will possibly make us lose some interests. And at the same time, we were not isolated and rediscovered that we are not lonely in this world.

There are a lot of partners, such as China, the Islamic world, India and so on. We have also discovered who is willing to cooperate with us. We have found that more and more countries are interested in being involved in an economic partnership with Russia. We have discovered the other replacement for the West, such as countries in Africa and Latin America, so we have lost the West, but we have discovered “the rest.” 

GT: You have recently opened your personal accounts in some Chinese social media platforms such as Sina Weibo and Bilibili. Many Chinese web users are following you to see what you are going to say to the Chinese public. Why did you do that, and do you read the comments made by Chinese netizens?

Dugin: First of all, I have great respect for modern China and traditions in China. I wrote a book called The Yellow Dragon, dedicated totally to the Chinese civilization from the beginning to the modern time. Now I’m seeing the glory of China’s spirit, culture and philosophy. And that is the book of a China lover and admirer. 

Now I consider that we need to elaborate more the philosophical basis of China-Russia friendship. The two countries are not just tactical partners but are an alignment between two great civilizations, and in order to promote this, we need to understand each other better. 

Our societies, cultures, civilizations, traditional values are very different. They get divergent, and in some elements, they are convergent. In order to promote a full-scale dialogue between two civilizations, I have decided to open social media accounts in China and to talk to the Chinese public, to open discussion. In this, I’m just expressing my opinion on what is going on in Russia, what is going on in the world, how Russians see the importance of China, and what principles should be put in the basis of our future relations. 

I started with a very friendly gesture and open for discussion. But after that, a huge wave of debates emerged, and for me, this is amazing and astonishing. I didn’t expect that. 

Some people started to use some fragments of my previous opinions from the 1990s, when we lived in a totally different condition in Russia. Before Putin, the country was ruled by “the traitors of our civilization.” I considered [at that time] that China is entering the globalization and it will lose its sovereignty, and it is going to betray its traditional values to in favor of global capitalism by betraying its socialist and communist ideas.

GT: So in the 1990s, you thought that China would be changed by globalization, and maybe even join the West to become a threat to Russia. But after that you changed your opinion because China also changed, and China’s change surprised you, because you didn’t expect that and then you became friendly to China and you support the China-Russian friendship again. Is that correct? 

Dugin: Absolutely! Absolutely! The fact that the change was about 25 years ago, so it was not a new change. 

My opinions have changed because China has changed, the world has changed, Russia has changed, geopolitics has changed. And it is not correct to use my opinions that are taken out of context to attack me.

I finally changed my opinion after I made visits to China from the 2000s. I met with many Chinese intellectuals, and we had serious and very fruitful discussions. At present, I have a totally different opinion, not only theoretically, but I am heavily involved in working to lift the life of China’s academic society. The more I know about China, the more I admire it. 

GT Voice: Russian Far East holds potential to cooperate with Heilongjiang

Illustration: Tang Tengfei/GT

Illustration: Tang Tengfei/GT

The eighth China-Russia Expo is scheduled to take place from May 16 to 21 in Harbin, the capital of Northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province. 

As the highest-level and largest exhibition hosted by the two countries, the expo serves as a significant platform for fostering economic and cultural exchanges between the two nations. In particular, leveraging the China-Russia Expo cooperation mechanism has the potential to breathe new life into Heilongjiang’s economic and trade collaboration with Russia’s Far East.

A closer connection with Heilongjiang will bring more development opportunities for Russia’s Far East, a prospect that offers strong certainty and has high expectations from both China and Russia.

The development potential in Russia’s Far East is vast, and with the deepening of China-Russia relations, many believe that the region is poised to emerge as a new bright spot in their cooperation. Not only is the Far East abundant in mineral, forest and agricultural resources, but its superior geographical location, adjacent to the East Asian economic circle, also makes it conducive to economic exchanges with China.

Heilongjiang, which shares a 2,981-kilometer border with Russia, also benefits from a unique geographical advantage, fostering close people-to-people exchanges and strong economic complementarity with Russia’s Far East. 

Economic and trade cooperation between Russia’s Far East and Heilongjiang encompasses various sectors including energy, agriculture, manufacturing and infrastructure. In terms of agricultural cooperation, Heilongjiang’s grain production has been combined with the agricultural development of the Far East to enhance regional food security and agricultural modernization. 

Moreover, the ongoing enhancement of infrastructure, such as the construction of cross-border railways and roads, has led to a substantial reduction in logistics costs and a significant improvement in trade facilitation levels.

Some Western public opinion has been critical of economic cooperation between China and Russia, often associating it with the Russia-Ukraine conflict. However, the rapid growth of the Asia-Pacific economy has prompted Russia to focus on developing its Far East region. For example, in 2015, Vladivostok was designated as a free port. With significant geopolitical shifts occurring globally, it is clear that the rise of the Far East is an inevitable trend. Therefore, business collaboration between China and Russia in the Far East not only demonstrates the mutual trust and friendship between the two nations but also aligns with economic rules and business sense.

It should be noted that cooperation between China and Russia in the Far East is greatly underestimated, with immense potential waiting to be unlocked. Russia’s economic structure, centered around resources, remains relatively straightforward. Also, some development commitments and plans for the Far East have yet to be fully realized, which has led to uncertainty among Chinese investors.

Clearly, the Far East’s development necessitates increased external support and collaboration, with China poised to play a significant role. Further opening-up efforts from Russia are essential in various areas to facilitate progress.

First, Russia could further simplify the investment approval procedures, lower the threshold for investment and provide more preferential policies and support for foreign investors.

Second, it could increase investment in infrastructure construction to improve the transportation, logistics, telecommunications and other infrastructure systems in the Far East.

Third, it could encourage in-depth cooperation with China in agriculture, forestry, energy, technology and other areas to promote industrial complementarity.

If China and Russia can jointly accelerate development and cooperation in the Far East, it will be an asset for the stability of the global supply chain and economic development in the Asia-Pacific region and even the world.

GT Voice: China-Russia trade has strong resilience, offers huge potential

Illustration: Chen Xia/GT

Illustration: Chen Xia/GT

It is normal to see fluctuations in the monthly readings for China’s exports to Russia, but those figures have been ironically cited by some Western media outlets as evidence of the effectiveness of the illegal US sanctions on Russia. Their self-deceiving propaganda is merely bravado.

The Voice of America has published an article distorting and hyping a decline in China’s April exports to Russia, attributing the drop to the impact of US sanctions. It is a bit ironic that while Western media outlets try to smear and criticize China’s trade with Russia by focusing on short-term fluctuations, they lose sight of the bigger picture.

China and Russia in recent years have further strengthened strategic coordination and achieved new results in mutually beneficial cooperation. Although customs data showed that China’s exports to Russia fell to 59.03 billion yuan ($8.17 billion) in April 2024 from 66.19 billion yuan in April 2023, exports from China to Russia increased in the first four months this year.

Trade between China and Russia grew steadily in recent years. In 2023, bilateral trade reached $240.1 billion, achieving the target of $200 billion ahead of schedule, which shows the strong resilience and broad prospects for mutually beneficial cooperation.

Trade and economic cooperation serve as key pieces in the jigsaw puzzle of China-Russia relations and enjoy great potential. Bilateral economic cooperation has advanced steadily not just in traditional fields such as energy, agriculture and forestry, but also in sectors including vehicles, home appliances and food processing.

This is the natural result of economic complementarity. To take the example of agriculture, Russia’s flour, beef, ice cream and some other agricultural products are favored by Chinese consumers, while made-in-China agricultural machinery and types of food-processing equipment are widely recognized by Russian farmers and companies.

Economic cooperation between China and Russia is mutually beneficial. Their cooperation neither targets any third party, nor is it influenced by a third party, let alone is it subject to interference and provocation by any third party.

The US recently imposed sanctions on about 20 Chinese companies for allegedly supporting Russia’s military-industrial and energy development. The move is a typical example of economic coercion, unilateralism, and bullying. China’s right to conduct normal economic exchanges with Russia and other countries on the basis of equality, mutual benefit and common development should not be infringed on. 

In recent years, the US has frequently used long-arm jurisdiction to abuse state power and arbitrarily place restrictions on trade and investment. Washington may try to drive a wedge to disrupt economic cooperation not only between China and Russia, but also between China and other countries and regions. This hegemonic approach has seriously disrupted the normal international economic and trade order and brought economic shocks to the global industrial chains. It will inevitably face a powerful backlash from people across the world.

As the global economy has entered a period of uncertainty and volatility partly due to the unilateralism and hegemonic practices of the US, developing countries, including China and Russia, should be further strengthening and consolidating their cooperation based on mutual respect, trust and understanding. They should address specific issues that hinder the further development of their economic and trade ties.

The challenges encountered by trade between China and Russia in the process of rapid development are controllable and can be solved through appropriate means. Both countries have the confidence, conditions and ability to further expand and deepen their mutually beneficial cooperation in various fields. For instance, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrey Rudenko was quoted by Russian news agency TASS as saying in February that Moscow is confident that the issues related to payments with China will be solved.

As the US escalates sanctions against Russia, the world is under pressure over its banks accepting payments from Russian companies, but it is believed that remaining problems will be gradually resolved, because it is consistent with the efforts by countries, especially developing economies, to ensure financial security and stability.

Trade with China mainly settled in yuan, rubles: Russian deputy PM

Aerial photo taken on Feb. 21, 2021 shows the first China-Europe freight train linking St. Petersburg of Russia with Chengdu departing the Chengdu International Railway Port in Chengdu, southwest China's Sichuan Province. Photo: Xinhua

Aerial photo taken on February 21, 2021 shows the first China-Europe freight train linking St. Petersburg of Russia with Chengdu departing the Chengdu International Railway Port in Chengdu, Southwest China’s Sichuan Province. Photo: Xinhua

About 92 percent of trade settlement between Russia and China is now conducted in Russian rubles and Chinese yuan, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexei Overchuk said on Wednesday at the ongoing Boao Forum for Asia in South China’s Hainan Province.

He also said that Russia hopes to strengthen financial ties with other countries to replace the US dollar in the international arena in the future, in a bid to ensure the stability and security of local currencies.

Overchuk’s remarks came amid growing emphasis by both sides on trade in local currency and de-dollarization efforts in a bid to reduce risks and costs. In July 2023, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced at the 23rd Meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization that over 80 percent of trade settlement between Russia and China was conducted in Russian rubles and Chinese yuan, according to media reports.

Bilateral trade between China and Russia continues to show upward momentum, reaching $240.1 billion in 2023, up 26.3 percent from a year earlier. The figure was over $190 billion in 2022, with energy taking the key share.

China-Russia relations are a model of relations between major powers. When talking about the relationship between Russia and China, Overchuk emphasized that the dynamic and stable relationship between the two countries is based on mutual respect, equality, and years of profound historical exchanges between the two governments. Russia will continue to promote the growth of trade between the two countries and advance new interconnection projects, he said.

One of the prominent changes over the past 50 years has been the rise of the Global South, Overchuk said while addressing a sub-forum titled “The Rise of the Global South.” Faced with increasing global uncertainty, countries from the Global South should strengthen cooperation and unite to meet challenges, he said.

Overchuk also pointed out Russia’s willingness to strengthen cooperation with countries in the Global South in the field of cross-border trade and transportation infrastructure construction, saying that Russia hopes to expand market access and push for the building of international transportation corridors.

“We are currently seeing signs of anti-globalization and rising trade fragmentation in global markets, which requires us to strengthen cooperation and connections with our neighboring countries,” said Overchuk.

2024 marks the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Russia. The determination of China and Russia to work together hand in hand is even stronger, the foundation of generational friendship is more solid, and the prospects for comprehensive cooperation are even broader, Zhang Hanhui, the Chinese Ambassador to Russia, said in an interview with Tass on March 21.