Far Eastern Studies N1, 2024

The Contents of the «Far Eastern Studies» N1, 2024 [e-version].



Portyakov V.Ya. On the Staffing of Chinese Diplomacy

Bochkov D.A. Interests of China and India Regarding ASEAN: Rivalry or Parallel Courses?

Trunov Ph.O. Germany`s Approach to the Cooperation with Singapore in the Sphere of Security and Defence in the Early 2020-s

Han Shiying. Evolution of Chinese Researchers’ Views on the National Interests (from the 1990s till Present)


Stepanov N.S. About the Future of the Formation of the Chinese Yuan as a World Currency

Akimov A.V. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership is the Largest Integration Association in Asia and the World

Zueva A.G., Samsonova V.G., Shirikalova A.A. Current State of the Economy of the Republic of Korea


Maloletko A.V. On Some Aspects of the Establishment and Development of Russian-South Korean Military-Political Ties


Datsyshen V.G. Chinese Workers on the Construction of the CER 1898–1899

Pirozhenko O.S. His Majesty’s Eyes and Ears: on the Establishment of the Institution of Control of Provincial Authorities in Korea during the Joseon Period

Kolnin I.S. Zheng He — Sinbad’s Prototype? (A Critique of a Popular Viewpoint)

Li Dongxin. The Palace Coup of 1900 in China (Based on the Materials of the Archive of Foreign Policy of the Russian Empire)


Verchenko A.L. Activities of the USSR Society of Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries on the Visit of the Chinese Education Mission in 1933


Guleva M.A. Influence of Demographic Processes on the Development of the Education System in Modern China


Maliavin V.V. Book Review: Shih Chih-yu. Post-Chineseness. Cultural Politics and International Relations. Albany: SUNY Press, 2022. 358 p.

On the Staffing of Chinese Diplomacy

Vladimir Ya. Portyakov

Recent events — the adoption of the “Law on foreign policy», the general significant activation of the People’s Republic of China on the world stage, the resignation of the country’s Foreign Minister Qin Gang and the return to the leadership of the Foreign Ministry Wang Yi — attract increased attention to Chinese diplomacy today. Meanwhile, this topic has not been fully disclosed in Russian and foreign studies. The main reason is the obvious opacity of the object of analysis. It is unlikely that Chinese diplomacy can be called completely closed, but information about it has to be collected literally bit by bit. The recently published texts by K.M. Barsky and E.V. Zhuravleva are very useful in this regard. Somewhat earlier, the formation of Chinese diplomacy was reviewed by Wang Chunying, a professor at the Diplomatic Academy in Beijing. Among the English-language efforts addressing the problems of Chinese diplomacy, John Garver’s monograph «Chinese Quest: The History of International Relations of the People’s Republic of China» (2016) should be mentioned. In general, this topic is far from being exhausted and requires further study. Our article examines in detail the features of the initial stage of the formation of the diplomatic personnel corps in the People’s Republic of China, analyzes the evolution of forms and methods of training and retraining of Chinese diplomats, the legal regulation of their obligations and rights. The activities of the country’s foreign ministers from 1949 to the present (Zhou Enlai, Chen Yi, Ji Pengfei, Qiao Guanhua, Huang Hua, Wu Xueqian, Qian Qichen, Tang Jiaxuan, Li Zhaoxing, Yang Jiechi, Wang Yi, Qin Gang) are briefly described.

Interests of China and India Regarding ASEAN: Rivalry or Parallel Courses?

Danil A. Bochkov

The paper examines whether the interests of China and India in relation to ASEAN reflect rivalry or rather co-exist in parallel without rigid confrontation. ASEAN occupies an important place among the key vectors of foreign policy of China and India in the Asia-Pacific region. ASEAN represents interest to China as an important trade and economic partner. The Associations is also important for China in regional security issues and the protection of the “first island line”. Strategically, deepening contacts with ASEAN is crucial for China in order to neutralize US plans to contain it. For India, the development of cooperation with ASEAN is aimed at balancing the strengthening of China’s regional positions. Geopolitically, ASEAN is one of the key components of a “self-reliant foreign policy” of India, and enhances its role as a more active participant in key regional processes. New Delhi sees some potential for the development of joint transport, logistics and economic projects, and plans impetus to domestic economic development by strengthening trade relations with ASEAN.
Despite the increasing rivalry between China and India for leadership in the region, Beijing and New Delhi are pursuing parallel courses with regard to ASEAN. ASEAN occupies an important place in the regional subsystem. Based on the concept of ASEAN-centricity, ASEAN plays one of the leading roles in the regional institutional architecture. Its members remain committed to a multi-vector approach and are interested in developing ties with all regional and non-regional actors, which help to uphold autonomy by maintaining foreign policy balance and benefit from multilateral economic cooperation.

Germany`s Approach to the Cooperation with Singapore in the Sphere of Security and Defence in the Early 2020-s

Philipp O. Trunov

The article explores the dynamics and results of German-Singaporean dialogue in political and military spheres. The city-state has a great value to Germany as a partner, but the potential had remained largely unclaimed. The article shows the reasons of such situation during the bipolar period and in the 1990s — 2010s. The situation changed in the early 2020s when Germany has started to ensure strategic penetration into the Indo-Pacific region. Unlike the example of the majority of Western democracies in the region (first of all, the USA, Australia and Japan) Singapore has had more balanced position to the containment of China. This approach was close to the cautious one of Germany itself. Common for both sides was interest to fit the interstate dialogue into the EU — ASEAN cooperation. The article explores the features of the contacts on the highest and high (foreign ministers and their deputies) levels, the content of joint statements and negotiation agenda. Since 2021–2022 rather large military exports from Germany (key components were the tanks and submarines) has been supplemented by the troops` cooperation. In 2021 the frigate “Bayern” visited Singapore, and in 2022 it became the temporary base for a group of Luftwaffe aircrafts as part of the Rapid Pacific mission. The article shows the influence of the usage of tanks Leopard 2 in the Ukraine over Singapore`s interest to military-technical cooperation with Germany. In the conclusion general patterns of the dialogue in the sphere of security and defence are presented.

Evolution of Chinese Researchers’ Views on the National Interests (from the 1990s till Present)

Han Shiying

This paper aims to contribute to this relatively under-studied field in China by analyzing the development of the Chinese academia’s definition of national interest. It wasn’t until the early 1990s the concept of national interest grew more popular and garnered the attention of the Chinese academia. During his regime in the 1990s, Jiang Zemin continued to adopt Deng Xiaoping’s policy of prioritizing economic development. But during the Hu Jintao era, Beijing began shifting from Deng and Jiang’s policy of “hide and bide” to the new peaceful development policy, of which forming a stronger diplomatic presence and influence is an important part. As such, some scholars began to argue for the importance for security interests and increasing China’s diplomatic influence, which was later confirmed by the Chinese government to be its national interest through official document. In the Xi Jinping era, new changes in the international arena prompted Xi to call for diplomacy with Chinese characteristics. Two paths laid out in front of Chinese scholars. One was a complete introspection which consisted of searching for China’s national interest purely from its history and from opinions of significant Chinese figures, combining elements of traditional Chinese philosophy. The other was to continue learning from the best practices of other great nations. The theories of Russia scholar Kortunov caught the attention of the Chinese academia. An analysis of the development of China’s national interest theories reveals that China went through discussions on public interest and economic interest, before shifting the narrative back to security and nationalism.

About the Future of the Formation of the Chinese Yuan as a World Currency

Nikita S. Stepanov

The article presents an analysis of the possibilities and prospects of the Chinese yuan on the way to becoming a world currency. Research arguments in favor of the broad and growing internationalization of the yuan are presented, including regional initiatives seen as a promising stage of internationalization, as well as encouraging forward-looking analysis. It describes the constant obstacles preventing the yuan from becoming a full-fledged payment mechanism in the field of cross-border transactions. It is shown that the Chinese currency is now becoming an important settlement currency in bilateral cross-border transactions, in addition to cross-border settlements and payments, the yuan also demonstrates its strength in cross-border investments and financing, and the growth of the yuan’s share in global payments has allowed China to be in fifth position among all countries in the world in terms of currency activity for global payments. The elements that show that at this stage the yuan should rather be considered in its regional dimension, especially on the basis of the existence of a de facto regional currency bloc, are listed. Possible directions for the reorganization of the global financial system are formulated, taking into account the role of the Chinese yuan and the possibilities of the digital yuan in this. The possibility of the yuan’s growth in a reserve function and a means of payment is highlighted, taking into account the fact that the value reserve function is an important criterion for the degree of internationalization of the currency. It is concluded that there are obstacles to the Chinese yuan’s ability to become a full-fledged payment mechanism in the field of cross-border transactions, in particular, capital account liberalization and institutional development, if these obstacles were eliminated, the potential of the Chinese currency could be realized.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership is the Largest Integration Association in Asia and the World

Alexander V. Akimov

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a free trade area with prospects for deepening economic integration. It includes China, Japan, the Republic of Korea (ROK), all ASEAN countries, Australia and New Zealand. Negotiations on the creation of the RCEP began in 2012, the agreement on the creation of the RCEP was signed in 2020, the operation of the organization began on January 1, 2022. The RCEP is the world’s largest free trade zone in terms of GDP with a population of 2.2 billion. The RCEP is based on the following key principles of regional integration: rules-based trade and investment, access to the markets of the participating countries, economic cooperation, the central position of ASEAN and the changing conditions and responsiveness provided by its status as a flexible agreement. In the RCEP, import tariffs remain in place for 20 years, although their reduction is planned. Commodity items in the tariffs are prescribed for detailed classification groups for the selective regulation of customs policy. The member countries are open to trade in high-tech products (electronics and aviation equipment), and do not impose duties on imports of those types of raw materials, fuel and food that are not available in the country. The most protected import items are goods that ensure food security, as well as selectively those manufacturing industries that ensure the internal security of the population and ensure international competitiveness (automotive equipment). Of the 15 member countries, five account for more than 90 % of the total GDP of the RCEP: China — 61 %, Japan — 14 %, ROK — 6 %, Australia — 6 %, Indonesia — 5 %. The RCEP is the first experience of economic integration of countries so different in terms of economy and technology. The prospects in the RCEP are associated with the large size of its economy and population and the catching-up development of lagging member countries. The sources of risks are the inequality of countries and competitive integration projects organized by the United States.

Current State of the Economy of the Republic of Korea

Alexandra G. Zueva
Viktoria G. Samsonova
Alisa A. Shirikalova

The Republic of Korea’s economy is entering a critical phase due to the negative geopolitical environment, escalating trade wars, growing domestic socio-economic problems and weak economic growth prospects. In addition, the current year 2024 will be the midway point of President Yoon Suk Yeol’s term in office, which will allow summarizing the latest results of his foreign and domestic economic policies. South Korea is currently facing the following key challenges that need to be addressed immediately: falling birth rate and aging population, polarization of society and impoverishment of socially vulnerable groups, destabilization of trade relations and increasing dependence on the United States, search for new growth drivers and related risks. However, despite a number of negative trends, the South Korean economy is expected to grow gradually in 2024. This is primarily due to the recovery of the ROK’s exports, namely the sale of semiconductors and other high-tech products. Among the external challenges that may have a negative impact on economic development in 2024, the following should be emphasized: military conflicts in the Middle East, technological confrontation between the US and China, and other equally serious factors. The paper analyzes the current economic situation in the ROK, South Korea’s policy towards its key trading partners, and examines the problems and prospects for further economic development of South Korea. In addition, the authors note that the unbalanced policy of the ROK administration may lead to serious negative consequences both domestically and in international markets.

On Some Aspects of the Establishment and Development of Russian-South Korean Military-Political Ties

Alexey V. Maloletko

The article examines the perception of the Russian Federation (Russia, RF) and the Republic of Korea (ROK) of each other in the process of establishment and development of military-political interaction after the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1990. The establishment of a bilateral military dialogue took place in conditions of a fundamental change in the priorities of the USSR’s foreign policy since the second half of the 1980s, then the collapse of the country and Russia’s assumption of relevant obligations as the legal successor of the Soviet Union. In Moscow, the intention to de-ideologize and abandon the principles of the Cold War period in favor of establishing strong ties with the countries of the «Western camp» prevailed, which put the Republic of Korea among a number of promising partners in Asia. Seoul perceived the Russian Federation from the point of view of beneficial influence on the DPRK, as well as increasing its own importance in the Asian region. The further development of military-political relations showed the presence of a mutual intention towards making the dialogue in this field systematic. However, significant results, for example, in the form of speaking from coordinated positions on key security issues for both countries in the North East Asia or fixing clear long-term goals in bilateral agreements on military cooperation, were not visible. Given the above circumstances, the author made an attempt to analyze the importance that the countries attached to the military-political component of bilateral relations, whether there were grounds to expect the formation of a proper level of trust between them in this area and whether there is a possibility of developing in the future full-fledged military ties, which are currently in an almost frozen state under the influence of external factors.

Chinese Workers on the Construction of the CER 1898–1899

Vladimir G. Datsyshen

In the Russian historiography of the construction of the Chinese Eastern Railway, there is a tradition of studying the contribution of Russians to the construction of the road and the city of Harbin. However, along with the Russians, from the first days of the construction of the CER, the Chinese worked alongside the Russians. From the first days of construction work, most of the construction workers of the CER were Chinese. Based on the evidence of the Russian builders of the CER and the first researchers of the road, the historical picture of Chinese participation in the construction of the road and the city of Harbin is restored, a set of issues and problems related to the involvement of Chinese in the construction site, the organization of work, the relationship between representatives of two peoples and states is revealed. Both published materials and documents stored in archival collections of Russia and the USA, documents of Russian and Chinese origin are involved in the work. The chronological scope of the study is limited to the first stage of the construction of the CER (1898 — early 1900). The first Chinese workers arrived at the construction site with Russian engineers or were recruited locally. Then several tens of thousands of Chinese were recruited and sent to construction work, the vast majority through large contracts concluded in the provinces of Shandong and Zhili (Hebei). The first and most important Chinese contractor who organized the supply of workers and the organization of their work was entrepreneur Cai Lianbi, who collaborated with the head of construction, engineer A.I. Yugovich. Russian Russian-Chinese cooperation’s first experience in the construction of the CER was complex and contradictory, but on the whole it was successful, which determined the future fruitful Russian-Chinese cooperation on the CER for several decades.

Zheng He — Sinbad’s Prototype? (A Critique of a Popular Viewpoint)

Ilia S. Kolnin

In modern popular literature, blogs on the Internet and other media aimed at the mass reader one is more and more likely to find an assumption that the famous Chinese admiral of the Ming dynasty, Zheng He (1371—?), could be the prototype of the legendary Arab merchant and traveler Sinbad, whose seven fantastic voyages were subsequently included in the collection of folktales “One Thousand and One Nights”. This article analyzes the historical, textual and linguistic arguments for and against such a presumption from both the Chinese and Arab-Persian sides. The first part presents a general criticism of this hypothesis, after which the three main arguments of its supporters are examined separately. The author comes to the following conclusions: it is most likely that the cycle about Sinbad was formed much earlier than the expeditions of Zheng He on the basis of various myths and a self-sufficient Arab-Persian geographical and nautical tradition; the generally accepted statement that both personalities made seven voyages is in fact very controversial; Sanbao was the name given not only to Zheng He, but also to other officials at the Ming court, including those who were in no way connected with the expeditions to the Western Ocean, and the history of the appearance and use of this expression is very vague. Thus, the desire to see Zheng He as a source of inspiration for the creation of the character of Sinbad the Sailor seems groundless, and the arguments in its favor do not stand up to scientific criticism.

The Palace Coup of 1900 in China (Based on the Materials of the Archive of Foreign Policy of the Russian Empire)

Li Dongxin

The article analyzes the palace coup in China in January 1900 on the basis of diplomatic documents based on diplomatic documents preserved in the Archive of Foreign Policy of the Russian Empire (AVPRI). The Chinese empress dowager Cixi chose a fourteen-year-old boy of imperial blood, Pujun, as the heir to the throne of the empire. It is impossible to understand why the Boxer Rebellion, one of the significant revolts against foreigners, led to military intervention in the early ⅩⅩ century without analyzing the events in the ruling imperial house. The Russian envoy M.N. Girs in his reports informed about the events taking place in Beijing, made observations and forecasts, compared Emperor Guangxu and the appointed heir to the throne. He speculated about the actions of the government of the empress dowager. The documents show that in the opinion of the Russian diplomat M.N. Girs, the palace coup did not represent a change of government and the intra-dynastic situation in China would remain stable in the near future. However, the Chinese palace coup in many ways posed a threat to the stability and independence of the country, changed the composition of the top echelon of power in China. It should be noted, the palace coup occurred precisely at the crucial moment for the Boxer Rebellion, which was spreading from the periphery to the capital of the empire. The key issue of interest for China was the recognition of the new rule after the palace coup, while for foreign powers it was the Chinese government’s reaction to the Boxer Rebellion. Due to China’s inefficient communication with the embassy quarter, this palace coup indirectly led to the deterioration of relations between China and foreign countries and was the catalyst for the war between China and the Eight-Nation Alliance.

Activities of the USSR Society of Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries on the Visit of the Chinese Education Mission in 1933

Alla L. Verchenko

The article for the first time in Russian sinology analyses the activities of the USSR Society for Cultural Relations with Foreign Сountries (VOCS) on the visit to Moscow in 1933 of the delegation of Chinese educators. The study was done on the basis of unknown in the scientific sphere documents of the State Archive of the Russian Federation, as well as the publications of foreign and Chinese researchers. China under Chiang Kai-shek planned a fundamental reform of the education system and intended to use suitable foreign experience, including the Soviet. On behalf of the Government, the VOCS dealt with the organizational and substantive aspects of the reception of the delegation that arrived in the Soviet Union after visiting Italy, Poland, Germany, Great Britain, France, Denmark, Austria, and spent 13 days in Moscow. The visit of a delegation, which was composed of key figures of the Chinese educational system, was important for the USSR from two points of view: from the political point of view (implementation of inter-state contacts after the restoration of diplomatic relations between China and the USSR in December 1932) and from the humanitarian point of view (development of interaction in a specific field of culture). It was an opportunity for our country to demonstrate to the international community the progress made in the reforming of the educational system and its advantages under socialism. The VOCS’s leading figures Vice-President E.O. Lerner and Secretary-General and Chairman of the VOCS Education Section M.J. Apletin met with the delegation. The delegation was received by the Chairman of the People’s Сommittee of Enlightenment A.S. Bubnov. The analysis of the documents shows that the delegation studied the Soviet experience and planned to use it to some extend in China. The VOCS has fulfilled the objectives set by the authorities of the country to organize the visit and to provide professional assistance to Chinese educators, made every effort to create conditions for maintaining and further developing Soviet-Chinese cultural ties.

Influence of Demographic Processes on the Development of the Education System in Modern China

Maria A. Guleva

Population structure is an important characteristic of society. As a key element of socio-economic development, the population is linked to the development potential of the nation and the state. Its scale, quality and structure have an important influence on the future direction of the educational system as a whole. In the development of educational activities, the number of students in each school year is directly correlated with the school-age population. The scope of education coverage, planning and organization of school activities are determined by the size of the population and the characteristics of its location. This is the basic logic of the relationship between education and population. Education in many ways influences society as a whole and the processes taking place in it, for example, the processes of population migration, etc. China is entering the era of negative population growth. China is entering an era of negative population growth, and it is important to predict how the education sector will respond to demographic changes. The new demographic trend will primarily affect the development of basic education. The decline in the total school-age population and the specifics of its regional distribution in the course of urbanization have led to a decrease in the number of students in rural areas and an oversupply in urban areas. Under such conditions, it is increasingly difficult to ensure high-quality development of basic education, avoid the emergence of new educational inequalities and a number of other social problems. All these problems of the current basic school will eventually be transmitted to higher education, and given the dynamics of population aging, it is clear that the labour market may be in a very difficult situation in the near future. If proper measures are not taken, systemic educational risks may arise that will have an impact on the overall socio-economic development of the state.

Book Review: Shih Chih-yu. Post-Chineseness. Cultural Politics and International Relations. Albany: SUNY Press, 2022. 358 p.

Vladimir V. Maliavin