"Asia and Africa today"
- is a scientificl monthly journal (in Russian)
of the Russian Academy of Sciences
Included in Russian Science Citation Index on
WoS platform, and EBSCO Publishing.
ISSN 0321-5075
Published since July 1957.

"Asia and Africa today" № 7 2019

TOP PROBLEM                                    

DISPUTES IN THE SOUTH CHINA SEA AND INTERNAL POLITICAL SITUATION IN VIETNAM

DOI: 10.31857/S032150750005562-0

Vladimir N. KOLOTOV, Dr.Sc. (History), Prof., Head, Far East History Department, St. Petersburg State University; Director, The Ho Chi Minh Institute ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

    The article presents the results of a study on the influence of the Eurasian System of Arcs of Instability on territorial disputes in the South China Sea (SCS), the priorities of the United States, People's Republic of China, Vietnam and the Russian Federation regarding the SCS in accordance with the strategic levels of Sun Tzu, as well as the impact of these factors on the development of internal political situation in Vietnam.

    The current rapprochement between Hanoi and Washington can be viewed as a logical result of Chinese policy in the SCS. The current policy of Beijing is counterproductive, because it pushes Vietnam into the sphere of dominant US influence, which in the long range is unfavorable for the PRC. The possible transition of Vietnam to the other side of the East Asian segment of the Eurasian Arc of Instability will become the most important geopolitical defeat of the PRC since its foundation in 1949.

    Growing tensions in US-China relations and in Vietnamese-Chinese relations create favorable conditions for strengthening Vietnamese-American relations, but the reinforcement of ties with the United States creates specific threats to homeland political stability in Vietnam. In this situation, the scenario of relying on the United States to protect the faraway borders (islands) from China’s expansion in SCS is risky for Hanoi, because following the stratagem “Befriend a distant state and strike a neighbouring one” poses a threat to the stability of regime in Hanoi.

    To sum up, the current foreign policy situation is not very favorable for the protection of Vietnam’s interests in the SCS, relying on the United States. The problem is aggravated by the remarkably reduced level of propaganda of Hanoi, both in the country and abroad, which is used by external forces to support opposition to the regime.

Keywords: Vietnam, stratagems, territorial disputes, South-China Sea, regional security issues

 

 POLITICS, ECONOMY 

ISLAM IN CONTEMPORARY AFRICA: LIMINALITY AND RE-ISLAMIZATION

DOI: 10.31857/S032150750005563-1

Evgeniy I. ZELENEV, Dr.Sc. (History), Professor, Head, Department of Asian and African Studies, National Research University “Higher School of Economics”, Saint-Petersburg ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

    The article is devoted to the analysis of the Islamic factor in political processes inъ Africa. The author analyzes whether the concept of "re-Islamization" can be applied to modern African realities and if it covers the entire African space or may be applied only to its part. The article reviews the Muslim countries of Africa in the context of the concept of dependent development and the phenomena of "Liminality" and "re-Islamization" in the countries and societies of Africa in the polarization of the Muslim spiritual elite on the scale of minimalism-maximalism. The author characterizes the Islamic States and Islamic international organizations on the African continent, provides information about the spread of Islam and the number of Muslims in Africa. The author describes the crises of elites, that has spread over almost all the countries of the Islamic area. This crisis stimulated the split within the local Islamic communities (Umma). Religious and ideological platforms of minimalism and maximalism appeared. After 2001 and particularly after the events of the Arab Spring of 2011-2012 many Islamic countries of Africa found themselves in the transition period (liminality) and even re-Islamization.

Keywords: Africa, Islam, Islamic factor, Liminality, re-Islamization

 

BELT AND ROAD INITIATIVE: PERSPECTIVES IN CENTRAL ASIA

DOI: 10.31857/S032150750005564-2

Maxim S. MIKHALEV, PhD (Law), Post-doc Fellow, Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Russian Academy of Sciences ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

    This article explores risks and opportunities for China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative in Central Asian Region (CAR) that consists of the ex-Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan. As Beijing is actively pushing its new foreign policy agenda here, there is concern growing among the expert community and politicians alike about the superpower’s real intentions towards this sensitive region situated in the immediate vicinity of Russian borders. In order to understand the reasons and the possible outcome of China’s foray into CAR, author suggests considering this region as a unique buffer zone in the heart of the continent that has its own mission of neutralizing geopolitical potential of the more influential states situated along the rim of Eurasia. After the demise of the Soviet Union that shaped CAR in its current form and impregnated its countries with the common ideology, the dangerous vacuum of power and ideas emerged here at the end of the last century. With all the subsequent efforts of the other major geopolitical players like EU or US to fill this vacuum failing, rising China effectively dragged itself into CAR with its unique agenda of full-scale economic development as a new ideology. Beijing’s cautious country-by-country approach, its economic might and the willingness to consider political specifics of the region bring it generally positive responses from the elite circles in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan. However, the lack of common cultural background and the widespread distrust of the common people across the region towards Chinese may put Beijing’s ambitious goals in CAR at risk.

Keywords: China, Central Asia, Belt and Road Initiative, buffer zones, multiple partner policy

 

IRAN AND SANCTIONS: EXPERIENCE OF OVERCOMING AND INFLUENCE ON SOCIO-ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

DOI: 10.31857/S032150750005565-3

Nikolay A. KOZHANOV, PhD (Economics), Research Fellow, National Research University Higher School of Economics; Research Fellow, European University at St. Petersburg ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

Leonid M. ISSAEV, PhD (Political Science), Associate Professor, National Research University Higher School of Economics; Research Fellow, Institute for African Studies, RAS ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

    The international sanctions has been affecting Iran’s economy for the last forty years. During this time, their pressure on Iran’s economy was uneven. The most sensitive measures of economic pressure against Tehran was applied in 2010 – 2015. They cut the country from the international banking and insurance system. Tehran’s access to foreign investments, advanced technologies and international sea carriage services was restricted. Its options to sell oil in external markets and import gasoline were also limited. Consequently, the adoption of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, so called nuclear deal) signed between Tehran and the international group of negotiators in 2015 was welcomed by the Iranian population and large part of the country’s elite. This document was lifting most of the previously imposed sanctions and gave Iran hopes for less troubled economic development.

    Yet, the decision of US president, Donald Trump, voiced in Spring 2018 to leave the  JCPOA change the situation around Iran once again. The renewal of US sanction pressure on Tehran caused serious concerns among the international community. The authorities of the EU, Russia and China are rightfully worried that the re-introduction of the US sanctions can create difficulties for doing business with Tehran and provoke the Iranian elite to consider options for Tehran to leave the nuclear deal. According to these concerns, sanctions might have negative impact on the domestic situation in Iran causing the growth of social unrest and strengthening of the position of conservative forces less prepared for the dialogue with the outer world. These concerns got only strengthened when, in November 2018, Trump imposed oil trade embargo on Tehran (with the provision of oil sanctions waiver for only eight countries and limited period of six months). Yet, these pessimistic scenarios should be taken with a grain of salt. Some of the current events and past experience clearly demonstrate that the re-imposed sanctions might become less effective than expected by the US.

Keywords: Iran, sanctions, economic development, sociopolitical instability, JSPOA

 

PTI ELECTION SUCCESS IN PAKISTAN: SOCIO-POLITICAL ASPECT

DOI: 10.31857/S032150750005566-4

Alina L. FILIMONOVA, PhD (History), Associate Professor, Institute of Asian and African Studies, Lomonosov Moscow State University ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

    The article explores the features of internal political and socio-economic developments within the Pakistani society that predetermined the electoral success of PTI. The first-ever rise of this party to power following 2018 general elections drew a wide response: unexpected by many, it elaborated the model of political interaction which has been forming in the country over the past decades. As it stands, PTI`s current predominance in the political arena signifies a slump in the popularity of traditional political favorites. However, given the social and cultural specifics of Pakistan, the situation is apparently more complicated. As a number of researches demonstrate, Pakistani society is ethnically heterogeneous and highly stratified; it is run by traditional models of interaction. In this context, the rise of one party and the fall of another mark more than just a sudden whim of preferences within the disillusioned electorate. It is, first and foremost, a confirmation of the informal commitments that allow a common Pakistani to consider themselves a part of a certain social group. It might be a sign of a deep and long-term social change, underlaid by its own causes. A closer look reveals that the remarkability of PTI success follows a certain logic. This article is focused on determining what kind of social changes formed the basis of PTI electoral triumph, and whether this victory adds any new elements to the previously formed political discourse or merely unravels previously existing tendencies.

Keywords: Pakistan, elections, PTI, Imran Khan, clientelism, «vote bank»

 

TURKEY IN CENTRAL ASIA: A PARTNER OR A RIVAL?

DOI: 10.31857/S032150750005567-5

Inessa  I. IVANOVA, PhD (History), Associate Professor, Department of languages of the countries of the Middle East, MGIMO(University) ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

    The collapse of the USSR and the formation of independent states in its place, including five Turkic, was greeted with great enthusiasm in Turkey, and the issue of uniting of the Turks under the auspices of Turkey was brought to the agenda. The union of Eurasian Turks took the place of one of the most important priorities of the country's foreign policy strategy.

    Since the beginning of the 90s, Turkey has been making every effort to establish political, trade and economic relations with the newly formed Turkic states of Central Asia.

    The article discusses the various integration initiatives of the Turkish leadership, aimed at maximizing rapprochement with the newly formed Turkic states of Central Asia.

    However, in the 2000s, Ankara realized the need to reconsider political approaches to the countries of Central Asia. The stake was made on the implementation of more realistic projects and on the rejection of excessive ambitious plans for these republics.

    The steps of the Turkish leadership to establish relations in various fields of activity with all five former Central Asian republics are analyzed. It is emphasized that Ankara is making great efforts in the development of business relations with the Central Asian countries. Direct investments of Turkish firms in this region at the end of 2017 exceeded $ 14 billion. Over 4 thousand Turkish firms operate in the region.

    The author believes that Turkey and Russia as large Eurasian states with a significant Muslim population are able to play the role of mediators in relations between the countries of Central Asia, the West and the world of Islam.

    It is pointed out that the multi-vector policy adopted by all Central Asian states can be used by Russia and Turkey for in-depth cooperation with the countries of the region in a bilateral format.

Keywords: Turkey, Central Asia, Russia, Turkic union, integration initiatives

 

CHINESE TOURISM IN EU: HUMANITARIAN AND INVESTMENT ASPECTS OF DEVELOPMENT

DOI: 10.31857/S032150750005568-6

Karina A. GEMUEVA, Junior Research Fellow, Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

    The aim of the article is to consider the EU countries as the direction of Chinese tourism and investments of Chinese companies in the tourism sector. The first part studies the current stage of development of Chinese tourism in EU countries. The analysis reveals the complexity of accurate assessment of tourism flows from China to the European Union. Much attention is given to the outstanding characteristics of Chinese outbound tourism, including passion for shopping and broad using of mobile payment platforms. The author points out several problems that can be connected with Chinese tourism, such as overtourism and «uncivilized behavior».

    The second part concentrates on Chinese investments in the tourism sector of the EU countries. It is spoken in detail about M&A deals related to airports, airlines, travel companies, hotels and large entertainment centers. At the same time different investment strategies used by Chinese investors are underlined. Further the author describes several examples of bilateral cooperation in serving Chinese tourists. Successful results are more common for companies invested in the field of their expertise or for those used partnership with local partner instead of aggressive investments.

    Since introduction of tighter capital control policies in China in 2017, a number of Chinese companies famous for their high-profile transactions in tourism sector began coming under pressure. In some cases such companies were forced to sell its overseas assets including tourism infrastructure in EU countries. The author believes that extensive penetration of EU tourism market by Chinese companies during last decade thereafter will be significantly limited.

Keywords: China, EU, Chinese investments, Chinese tourism

 

NIGERIA'S FOOD SECURITY CHALLENGE AND THE RESPONSE OF INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

DOI: 10.31857/S032150750005569-7

Nina G. GAVRILOVA, Junior Research Fellow, Institute for African Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences  ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

Tatyana S. DENISOVA, PhD (History), Leading Research Fellow, Institute for African Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

    The main factor of economic and political stability in the country is food security. The unresolved food problem arising from the reorientation of the Nigerian economy towards the oil sector compelled the country's consecutive governments to develop programs aiming at optimizing agricultural production and food security. However, as a result of these programs, the country managed to achieve only partial food security. The authors present a modern assessment of food security in Nigeria using several methods. The value of the Global Food Security Index (GFSI) for Nigeria demonstrated a slight increase from 2012 to 2017, which can be regarded as a positive trend, yet the improvement in the constituents of the Index is extremely slow. The changes in the GFSI value reflect certain encouraging changes in Nigeria, such as a decrease in the level of corruption, relative stabilization of the political situation, limited diversification of agricultural production, and the formulation of national food standards. In another positive development, the value of the Global Hunger Index decreased between 1992 to 2017, but the proportions of undernourished population and of stunting and wasting children remain high. According to the methodology of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Nigeria was assigned extremely low ratings in terms of availability and quality of nutrition.

    The present study analyzes the assistance of international organizations rendered to Nigeria with the aim of stabilizing the food situation. The country receives international funds for the development of agricultural sectors and for providing the population with prepared foodstuffs. FAO, the International Fund for the Agricultural Development, Catholic Caritas Foundation of Nigeria, Mercy Corps, the Save the Children Fund, the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief and many other organizations have become contributors to the cause of mitigating the food challenge in Nigeria.

Keywords: Nigeria, agriculture, food security, international organizations, FAO, IFAD

 

RUSSIA AND THE EAST

PILGRIMAGE OF RUSSIAN MUSLIMS TO THE SACRED SITES OF ARABIA (2014-2018): ANALYSIS AND DEVELOPMENT PROSPECTS

DOI: 10.31857/S032150750005570-9

Ildar A. NURIMANOV, Post-graduate student, Institute of Asian and African Studies, Lomonosov Moscow State University; Editor-in-Chief, annual magazine "Hajj of Russian Muslims" ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ).

    The article analyzes the organization of the annual Muslim pilgrimage (hajj) from different regions of Russia to the shrines of Islam in Arabia for 2014-2018, identifies the stages of the process, carries out a comparative analysis and considers the participation of the authorities and leaders of the two countries (Russia and Saudi Arabia) dealing with pilgrimage issues. The article gives an assessment of the state model of the organization of hajj, which contributes to a clearer and more systematic work of all stakeholders. The author focuses on state-Islamic relations and coherence in the work of the structures responsible for the implementation of the pilgrimage in order to achieve quality results.

    Over the past 5 years, the pilgrimage tradition of Russian Muslims to the sacred sites of Arabia tended to develop in a positive way and was characterized by further improvement in the organization of the fifth pillar of Islam – Hajj, improving the quality of services offered to pilgrims. The article assesses the role of Muslim pilgrimage in establishing contacts and deepening cooperation between Russia and Saudi Arabia. The regulatory policy influences by a number of factors, among which the attempts to erect barriers against infectious diseases, prevent Russia’s Muslims from acquiring radical religious ideas, implement the passport system, choose the most secure routes and monitor the flow of pilgrims. All these organizational processes are aimed at improving the services offered to Russian pilgrims, providing them with everything necessary for the proper performance of the Hajj.

Keywords: Hajj, pilgrimage, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Russian Haj-mission, Hajj Council

 

 SCIENTIFIC LIFE

WORD ABOUT YOUTH OF AFRICA (about the International conference "Youth in the socio-political and cultural life of Africa”)

DOI: 10.31857/S032150750005571-0

Natalia L. KRYLOVA, Dr.Sc. (History), Center of sociological and political science research, Institute for African Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

    The Institute of Africa hosted an international conference on youth issues in the socio-political and cultural life of Africa. The main topics of discussion were the problems of demographic growth, poverty, unemployment, education and forced migration, which primarily affect the younger generation of the continent. Many African  countries are becoming concern about the critically situation of the increase population of the youths, unemployment, crime and how it affect the nation at last, non the less this issue is unique to third world countries. In the case of Africa, nations are not rapidly evolving enough to equal the population growth of the youth, this major problem pave way to other arising problem. In logical terms a country with high population rate of energetic youth should be more productive economically, financially, infrastructure and agriculture wise. It was noted in the reports and during the discussion that young people make up the largest share of the population in most African countries, so the States of the African continent and society should create the necessary conditions for the self-realization of young people and their active inclusion in the socio-political processes, the interaction of youth organizations, authorities and all interested structures, involving in this process all young people, without exception, who are not indifferent to their future. Economic growth in Africa needs to be inclusive and empowered for youths through better planning, progressive economic planning and policies, effective research institutes and coordination. Even with all this African youths need to be constantly active and continues to push for change and improvement of polies on the continent of Africa though the power of innovations, ideas and activism.

Keywords: Africa, youth, poverty, education, employment, migration, demography, "soft power", students, family, childhood

 

 POST-GRADUATE TRIBUNE

MUSLIM PRIVATE LAW IN CONTEMPORARY INDIA: IDEAS OF REVISION AND MODERNIZATION

DOI: 10.31857/S032150750005572-1

Maria N. STARIKOVA, Post-graduate student, Department of South Asian History, Institute of Asian and African Studies, Lomonosov Moscow State University ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

    For decades, the Muslim Personal Law has been one of most controversial topics for the conservative Muslim organizations, Hindu organizations and secular parties in India. A complicated legal system combined with the absence of the Universal Civil Code has brought about legal inequality within the Indian Muslim community. Consequently, in the most cases Muslim women lose lawsuits, particularly, in the divorce cases. Being citizens of India and members of their religious community, they often fail to enjoy statutory rights. In the mid-20th century, the idea of the Uniform Civil Code as a guarantee of civil rights prevailed among Muslim activists. Nowadays, however, most Muslim women organizations have put this idea aside preferring to focus on the revision of the Muslim Personal Law and on the grass-root work among the poorest strata of the community. Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan has substantially contributed to modifying the Muslim Personal Law regulations and succeeded in banning the “triple talaq” practice. It pays special attention to the issue of dowry – a traditional payment by parents of the bride, which was officially prohibited in India as far back as 1961. Basing on the Quranic principles, Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan  has coined its own version of the Codified Muslim Personal Law. The organization has formulated new principles of a marriage contract, according to which the groom has to pay his one-year salary as mehr for the bride and is not supposed to have any claims against it during the marriage period. Following  country-wide consultations with religious scholars and lawyers, Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan  has been trying to introduce its version of the Codified Muslim Personal Law to the Indian government.

Keywords: India, Unified Civil Code, Muslim Personal Law, Muslim community, rights of Muslim women

 

 TRAVELS, MEETINGS, IMPRESSIONS

AT THE KUMBH MELA IN INDIA

DOI: 10.31857/S032150750005573-2

Valeriy P. KASHIN, PhD (History), Leading Research Fellow, Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

    Kumbh Mela-2019, the greatest sacred festival in the world, which was held from 15th January to 4th March  near an Indian city called Prayagraj, is at the center of the author’s attention. This ancient festival is a door to Hinduism. Kumbh Mela was first mentioned in historic sources in the 7th century.

The festival was a massive and well-organized event which attracted 140 million pilgrims and many foreign tourists. It also had a political meaning due to the upcoming election campaign to the House of the People (Lok Sabha) of the Indian Parliament. On 24th February Indian Prime-Minister Narendra Modi visited the Kumbh Mela to perform the sacred dip and participate in other rituals. The opposition called the actions of the leader of the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) an act of “populism and propaganda” and “collecting the political ambrosia” officially aimed to consolidate the Hindu community.

    The author tells about the akharas’ procession, the nagas’ manners, the sadhus’ dip, ritual dips, transfer of the pilgrims at Sangam, and the intense cultural program offered to all of them. The program included more than 500 cultural events in 6 pavilions as well as visiting the Museum of the history of India in the open air, different exhibitions, cinemas and a laser show. The ‘Global Participation’ Forum was a part of the program. Participants from 188 countries, including the writer of the following article, took part in. The Forum was held under the protection of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations.The series of the writer’s original photos is attached to the article.

Keywords: India, Kumbh Mela, Sangam, hinduism, pilgrims

 

 BOOK REVIEW

MADAGASСAR – MY LOVE

DOI: 10.31857/S032150750005574-3

Review of the book: A.N.Moseiko. Madagascar. Specifies of the cultural and civilization development (Moscow, 2018, 234 p.) (In Russ.)

Natalia A. KSENOFONTOVА, PhD (History), Institute for African Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

Keywords: identity, history of Madagascar, Madagascar culture, myth-religious system, civilization