"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" № 8 2019

TOP PROBLEM                                    

“RUSSIA – CHINA” OR "GREAT AMERICA"? WILL THE "END OF HISTORY" BECOME A REALITY?

DOI: 10.31857/S032150750005765-3

Sergey G. LUZYANIN, Dr.Sc. (History), Professor, Director, Institute of Far Eastern Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

    The article offers the analysis of the new vectors in the international-cooperation domain of the Russia-China strategic partnership. Special attention is focused on the influence, caused by the US factor on Russia and China with regard to different issues, including the military-strategic component, the attempts to renovate the global and regional institutions, the correlation of the two countries' potentials, as well as the chances of, and conditions for transformation of the RF-PRC Strategic Partnership Treaty of 2001 into a form of alliance. The author also addresses different scenarios, such as the probability of signing the Russia – China alliance in case the world would move to the situation of 1939 or June 1941, or the further unstable balance among the great powers. Other subjects, analyzed in the article, include the potentials of the humanitarian / cross-civilization dialogue between the two countries, their joint containment of the US economic expansionism, and formation  by Moscow and Beijing of their "specialized" bilateral agendas - such as the "Eurasian" one (building the "Greater Eurasia"), Arctic (cooperation in the Arctic and mastering of the Northern Sea Route), the outer-space, hydrocarbons, and others, the author devotes special attention to the efficient interaction between Russia and China in such formats as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, BRICS, "G20" and other ones, as well as presents the road-map of seven vectors that would lead to positioning of Russia and China as a single regional and global center of force.

Keywords: trade war, USA, Russia, China, strategic partnership, Treaty of 2001, confrontation, military alliance 

 

 

 POLITICS, ECONOMY 

THE PRC AND THE USA, WHO IS WINNING: A COMPARISON OF THE MAIN PARAMETERS OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

DOI: 10.31857/S032150750005767-5

Vitalii A. MELIANTSEV, Dr.Sc. (Economics), Professor, Head of the Department of International Economics of Asian and African Countries, Institute of Asian and African Studies, Lomonosov Moscow State University; member, Editorial Board, “Aziya i Afrika segodnya” journal ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

    The paper, based on a series of models and computations, analyzes main features of international competitiveness of the PRC and USA. It is shown that during the last four decades China, having substantially increased its level of physical and human capital formation, participation in international division of labor, succeeded not only to surpass the USA by the volume of GDP in PPP, shares in the growth of world GDP, exports and investments, but was rapidly catching up with it by level of per capita GDP, total factor productivity, human development index.  Having at first profited by its natural comparative advantage (gigantic masses of cheap, hard-working labor force), China has stepped more or less firmly on the path of innovative development. It nearly caught up with the USA by the absolute level of R&D expenditures and has achieved great progress in the publication of scientific articles and issuance of patents with relatively high impact-factor, in the use of robots and supercomputers. 

    However, first, the USA as well as the other advanced economies, which are grappling now with many structural disproportions, possesses a huge science and innovation potential, and average growth rates of their total factor productivity are, perhaps, understated by 1/5 to 1/3. Second, China which during the last decade has been suffering from overaccumulation of capital, decline in the efficiency of investments, substantial increase in total debt, enlarged ecological price, significant rise of inequality in incomes and wealth, should urgently undertake a new series of institutional pro-market reforms, if it wants to carry on fast catching up development, improving the standards of living of its population,   upgrading its level of international competitiveness.

Keywords: The PRС and USA rivalry, accumulation of capital, innovations, institutions, productivity, competitiveness, total debt, inequality, index of development

 

RUSSIAN-IRANIAN ECONOMIC INTERESTS IN SYRIA (part 1)

DOI: 10.31857/S032150750005777-6

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. )

Hamidreza AZIZI, PhD (Regional Studies), Assistant Professor, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

    This paper discusses Russian and Iranian economic activity and interests in Syria and focuses on two macroblocks. First of all, it seems to us important to highlight the level of trade and economic cooperation between Russia and Syria, on the one hand, and Iran and Syria, on the other. If for Iran’s economic relations with Syria, it should be noted that although the country has long been one of the top priority targets for Iranian trade and the trade interactions between the two sides were on the rise before 2011, the Syrian Crisis caused bilateral trade to fall drastically. However, Russian economic interests in Syria do not look so obvious and convincing. If we talk about the Russian economic presence in Syria after the Arab spring, it would be more correct to consider the interests of individual Russian businessmen and representatives of the economic elite in specific projects in Syria. Also, this work will be devoted to the difficulties faced by Moscow and Tehran in the implementation of their economic and investment projects in Syria and prospects of cooperation and competition between Russia and Iran. Given the close partnership between Iran and Russia in supporting Bashar al-Assad government, this paper also takes a look on the prospects of economic cooperation or rivalry between Tehran and Moscow in Syria and shows that no mechanism has yet devised by the two parties to manage their competition and promote cooperation in Syria’s economic sphere. Of note, this paper deals exclusively with Iran and Russia’s non-military economic activities in Syria and does not cover issues like arms exports or military aids of the two countries to the Syrian government.

Keywords: Iran, Russia, Syrian crisis, economic development, Syrian reconstruction

 

IRAN'S INFLUENCE IN SYRIA

DOI: 10.31857/S032150750005772-1

Timur R. KHAIRULLIN, Junior Research Fellow, Center for Civilizational and Regional Studies, Institute for African Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

    The article focuses on the reasons for the strengthening of Iranian positions in the Syrian Arab Republic since the beginning of the events of the "Arab spring" to the present time. In the analysis, it was found out that the preservation of the state integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic is one of the most important tasks in the foreign policy strategy of the Iranian leadership. Tehran has provided active financial, military and logistical assistance to the Syrian leadership, because Syria is a link in relations between Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah, The Syrian state, where the Alawite minority has greater political weight than the Sunni majority, is of great interest to Iran and is the first Arab government with which the Islamic Republic had been able to establish close relations on a religious basis before the war in Iraq and the consolidation of Hezbollah's political power in the Lebanese government. The leading role in the preservation of the Assad regime has been played by the armed forces of Iran, which conducted quite active hostilities together with government troops. Tehran relied on the fighters of the Lebanese Hezbollah movement, as well as mobilized loyal to the Iranian leadership groups of Iraqi, Afghan and Pakistani Shia, who had shown their effectiveness in the Syrian theater of operations. The formation of Pro-Iranian Shia supported by Iran, has played an important role in the preservation of the Assad regime. In general, Iran, through a number of factors, has managed to seriously strengthen its positions in the Syrian Arab Republic, as well as to ensure the integrity of the strategic political axis Iran-Iraq-Syria-Hezbollah.

Keywords: Iran, Islamism, Syria, Islamist project, alawites, Hezbollah, Shiites, Assad

 

CHINA AND INDIA AS THE DRIVERS OF AFRICA

DOI: 10.31857/S032150750005774-3

Tatiana L. DEYCH, Dr.Sc. (History), Centre of Russian-African Relations and African States Foreign Policy Studies, Institute for African Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

Vyacheslav A. USOV, PhD (History), Centre for Global and Strategic Studies, Institute for African Studies ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

    The article deals with the cooperation of two Asian powers – China and India – with African countries. The turn “to the East” in contemporary international relations is available. The World interest in Africa as in a store-room of natural resources and in the continent of the intensive growth rises. China and India display the growing activity in African countries .Both countries are increasing steadily their presence on the African continent. Very important tools for Chinese and Indian policy in Africa are the Forums for Cooperation, where both countries announce the programs for future relations with Africa. For example, at the 2018 China-Africa Forum for cooperation (FOCAC) summit China announced that it had set up $60 billion for Africa development. The authors analyze China-Africa and India-Africa trade relations, the Beijing and Deli activities as donors and investors in African countries. China and India trade relations with Africa are very important for both sides. China is a leading trade partner for many African countries. The trade volume of both Asian countries with Africa grew very actively for many years, but 2015-2016 showed the decline of trade in connection with the falling prices for raw materials. However trade growth has resumed in 2017-2018. China has been increasing its presence in Africa, cooperating with the continent in pressing issues such as infrastructure development. The Chinese have been engaged in such projects as industrial parks, construction of mega-projects as railways, airports, sea ports. India lags behind China in these spheres, but outstrips Beijing in IT. As the analysis shows, these “emerging powers”, which some scholars propose to call “southern powers,” are developing their cooperation with Africa in different spheres of economy, forcing out the traditional partners of African countries and sometimes coming out as rivals.  

Keywords: Africa, China, India, cooperation, trade, aid, investment 

 

NIGERIA: THE RESULTS OF MUHAMMADU BUHARI'S FIRST PRESIDENTIAL TERM AND THE 2019 GENERAL ELECTION

DOI: 10.31857/S032150750005775-4

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

    Muhammadu Buhari's first term as president ended in early 2019. On February 23, the general election took place, as a result of which the current head of state retained his position. Buhari did not receive unanimous support of the citizens of the country, because in his capacity he did not fulfill the main promises he had made to the Nigerians during the 2015 election campaign. He had not achieved notable successes in the economic sphere, although certain progress in this area had been registered; he had not established an acceptable level of security for Nigerians and had not reduced the level of corruption. However, despite the regime’s failure to fulfill its election promises in part or in full, it was the absence of a decent and at the same time fairly well-known alternative figure that led most Nigerians to vote for a candidate who may not have yet managed to implement all his plans and programs.

    The main problem of the Buhari administration remains security. Although the regular army has managed to drive Boko Haram militants to the far northeast of the country, where they are mainly occupied with cross-border smuggling of weapons, drugs, oil products, food, etc., the Buhari government has failed to completely destroy the extremists. The question of the Niger Delta, where militants from anti-government groups keep on attacking oil infrastructure facilities, is still acute. The problem of separatism in Biafra has re-emerged, and against the background of these "long-standing" conflicts, a new conflict – between farmers and herders – broke out in the central regions of Nigeria.

    Meanwhile, the fact that Muhammadu Buhari stayed in power in Nigeria may be viewed as a factor contributing to the expansion of contacts between Russia and the largest West African country.

Keywords: Nigeria, General elections, Muhammadu Buhari, political parties, economic reforms

 

EXPLAINING CONFLICTS IN DR CONGO FROM INFRASTRUCTURE PERSPECTIVE

DOI:10.31857/S032150750005779-8

Evgenii N. KIRILLOV, Independent Researcher, Military Observer in the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

For more than twenty years the Democratic Republic of Congo has been experiencing bloody conflicts which have resulted in millions of deaths. The intervention of international community had a limited success and violence continues to date. Despite abundance of academic literature related to the theme, there are very few papers which employ quantitative research to explain this violence. Furthermore, there has not been any research which illustrated conflicts in the country from the perspective of what is called infrastructural violence. The article aims to fill this gap and prove that infrastructural deficiencies are among the primary contributors to the violence in the DRC. The paper employs results of quantitative research and personal experiences of the author (three years as part of the UN mission in the country) to support its theoretical assumptions. The article might be very informative and helpful for the personnel of international organizations, the DRC Government and its donors. It might also be interesting for a broad circle of researchers from such areas as African, conflict and peace studies.

Keywords: DRC, Congo, conflict, violence, infrastructure

 

POINT OF VIEW

NATION-STATE BILL IN THE LIGHT OF ISRAELI WEST BANK POLICY

DOI: 10.31857/S032150750005781-1

Victoria A. KOROCHKINA, PhD (Political Science), St. Petersburg State University ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

    The article examines the Basic Law: Israel is the national state of the Jewish people adopted by Israeli Parliament – Knesset – on the 19th of July, 2018. Author handles the Basic Law in the context of the final status determination of the West Bank which is the key problem of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and further way of Israel existence as well. It is noted that according to the steps taken by the Israeli political leadership including those in the legislative field, it is determined to annex the territory. This Basic Law is rather reviewed from the standpoint of the Israeli leadership intention to address the territorial and demographic aspects of the Palestinian-Israeli relationship in the near future. As far as Arab citizens of Israel are concerned, author partly agrees with the proponents of the Basic Law which insist on its ‘lofty aims’ and that it is not of discriminatory nature just because in fact it hardly can spoil their status more comparing with the present rights of the case. The Nation-State Bill is more about alignment of the legal framework according to the national and geo-political agenda adopted by the right-wing including far-right parties which are forming ruling coalition in Israel. Its adoption must be considered under the circumstances on the international arena during the presidency of Donald Trump – the most pro-Israel US President in history – and internal political process in Israel which is marked by swinging of the Israeli society to the right.

Keywords: State of Israel, Basic Law, “Jewish character”, Knesset, West Bank, occupied territories, Jerusalem

 

 POST-GRADUATE COLUMN

BURDEN OF ASSAM: COUNTERING ILLEGAL MIGRATION FROM BANGLADESH

DOI:10.31857/S032150750005783-3

Svyatoslav A. PODOPLELOV, Post-graduate student, 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 discusses the political and legal aspects of illegal migration from Bangladesh to the Indian state of Assam. The 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War gave a huge impetus to the existing flows of migrants. Porous nature of the newly established India-Bangladesh border further facilitated this process. Assam’s indigenous population was upset by the increasing influx of aliens which resulted in a public outrage that took form of the so-called Assam movement in 1978-1985. The anti-immigrant and nationalist agenda of the movement predetermined its violent nature. As a result, in 1983 the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunal) Act was adopted to put an end to illegal migration to the state. In addition, the federal government signed an accord with the protesters yielding to their demands on paper. However, the struggle to protect the indigenous Assamese population from the inflow of foreigners as the anti-immigration movement took a political form with setting up the Asom Gana Parishad that formed the provincial government in Assam in 1985-1990 and 1996-2001. With the 1983 Act being practically inapplicable and failing to make any considerable difference, the harsh rhetoric is still employed by nationalist parties for electoral gains while moderates allegedly try to woo Bangladeshi illegal migrants in order to get an advantage over their rivals. Identifying illegal migrants in Assam is not an easy task, thus the estimates vary from author to author. The legal actions taken by Sarbananda Sonowal, one of the former AGP leaders, resulted in repeal of the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunal) Act. Now in his new capacity as the Assam chief minister and the local leader of Bharatiya Janata Party he seeks to update the National Register of Citizens in order to launch en masse deportations of foreigners residing in the state illegally in the run-up to the 2019 general elections.

Keywords: Bangladesh, Assam, illegal migration, Asom Gana Parishad, Sarbananda Sonowal

 

 PAGES OF HISTORY

NGUYEN CO THACH – ARCHITECT OF MODERN DIPLOMACY OF VIETNAM

DOI: 10.31857/S032150750005789-9

Grigory M. LOKSHIN, PhD (History), Leading Research Fellow, Institute of Far Eastern Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

    The article is devoted to the life and work of one of the prominent politicians of Vietnam in the 70-80 years of the last century, which in Vietnam deservedly considered the founder and architect of the modern Vietnamese diplomacy. He played especially significant role in designing and achieving agreement about withdrawal of American troops from Vietnam on Paris negotiations 1968-1973. All his colleagues unanimously note his great contribution to the development and implementation of the country's foreign policy in the extremely difficult international situation  for his country in the 80s of the last century and to the adoption of the liberated and United Vietnam in the world community as an authoritative, constructive and reliable partner. As a minister he drastically changed the structure of this body paying most attention to researches and preparation of professional diplomats of a new school. It is not by chance that in 2008 in Hanoi one of the new streets of the capital of Vietnam was named after him.

    The author considers erroneous and completely unfair the opinion expressed by some Chinese scientists and publicists about the Vietnamese Minister of foreign Affairs as "extremely anti-Chinese politician". Of course, as always, he was firm and inventive in defending the legitimate rights and interests of his country, but he did everything possible to prevent the terrible scourge of war from hitting the long-suffering land of Vietnam again. His consistent foreign policy was based on President Ho Chi Minh's favorite formula, which he bequeathed to his successors: "as many friends as possible, as few enemies as possible".

Keywords: Vietnam, Nguyen Co Thach, Paris talks, Le Duc Tho, Henry Kissinger, CPV, Li Pan Diary, secret agreement

 

 TRADITIONS, CUSTOMS, MORAL

«ITINERANT COURT» IN MOROCCO: THE UNFORGOTTEN PAST

DOI: 10.31857/S032150750005790-1

Daria V. SOLOVYEVA, Senior Lecturer, 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 is focused on the phenomenon of the itinerant court, or mobile government, in Morocco. This way of ruling the country was known in the Islamic Far West since the Middle Ages. The sultans travelled across the Empire in order to collect the taxes or tribute to hold a court and to arbitrate the conflicts between Moroccan tribes. The itinerant court was an effective mechanism that allowed the sultans to maintain their power in such isolated areas like the Atlas mountains and  the Sahara desert.

    The author shows that this tradition is still practiced today in Morocco: the king Muhammad VI travels across the country and takes part in different events which are not always of particular importance. This fact demonstrates that the king is eager to be present in everyday life of ordinary Moroccans, and this way of ruling the country goes back to the tradition of his monarchial ancestors. The participation of king in such events like opening a new airport or in a Friday prayer in local mosque allows to maintain his popularity among his subjects.

    The phenomenon of «itinerant court» is an example of flexibility of Moroccan traditions, especially the manner of ruling the country. The king shows by his actions that he is open to his people and that the dynasty can adapt itself to the changing world. Moreover, it is supposed that this resilience of the ruling family is one of the main reasons of the political stability in Morocco.

Keywords: Morocco, tradition, modernisation, «itinerant court», collection of tribute