17 Malaya Ordynka, building 1, room 115
The School of International Regional Studies is a research and educational centre seeking to revive international regional studies as an academic discipline in Russia. The department’s world-class professors train the next generation of regional studies specialists while developing an increasingly prestigious research school.
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The welcoming speech was given by the Head of the HSE School of International Regional Studies of the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs, Associate ProfessorVera Vishnyakova.
Professor Freeman started his speech from linking important historical events that shaped the relations among the countries and policy-makers. The Sino-American diplomatic relations started in the 1970s with so-called “Ping Pong diplomacy” and later visit of President Nixon to Beijing in 1972 that marked the end of Chinese isolation from the world’s markets.
The expert noted that the present pandemic and trade wars haven’t occurred unexpectedly: China and the US have the long chain of past events that caused the tensions as well. The first important event was the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests that received a huge attention in the global media, especially in the US, though China claimed it to be a completely domestic affair. The next important point is the 1996 Taiwan Strait Crisis that involved military measures and the US “diplomacy of muscles” (or diplomacy of ships). The next tension happened during the war in former Yugoslavia in 1999 when NATO bombed Chinese embassy in Belgrad, as they claimed, accidentally. And the latter accident that happened in 2001, when the US spy plane collided with Chinese jet.
Before the outbreak of COVID-19 there was a certain approximation of the US and China caused by the North Korea nuclear crisis and trade deals concluded by Donald Trump and Xi Jinping, though there were a lot of talks whether it is free trade but not fair trade and whether both sides follow the deals. Before the pandemic, Chinese were buying bankrupt American businesses and were the first opened a factory in the US, what caused a big challenge for American production.
Moreover, China has greatly modernised its army in the recent years. The expert expects that in the future Chinese soldiers could be involved in the Syrian war. Nowadays China id building artificial islands in the South China Sea and places military bases there to tests their capacities. As well Chinese army is heavily involved into the domestic affairs, such as Hong Kong protests.
In the present-day situation Professor Freeman points are four main changes observed. First one is the governmental and business institutions that can become the potential incidents such as the case of Chinese embassy in Serbia. The second point is the students exchanges that were one of the main Chinese “soft power” tools. With the outbreak of the COVID-19 many students returned to their home countries, not only Chinese, but also Americans preferred to go back and stay home. The third change is observed in the movie industry: due to the pandemic no movies can be released in 2020 what will bring huge loses to the whole industry, while Chinese movie industry is expected to flourish. The forth change is the change of touristic patterns, while tourism industry suffered dramatically due to the fear of racism and mistrust among countries.
The virus itself is only a part of the picture. The US started a massive information war with regards of virus origin, the official timeline and the reliance of the official data from the governments. This information war has already caused the negative tendencies in the common opinion of Americans towards Chinese, what can be used by the politicians in the future elections.
The virus also caused the shifts in alliances. According to the expert, in future a formation of two camps should be expected. The historical alliances will be reshaped by the new powerful states, such as India, South Korea and Israel. This can be an important step in Sino-Indian rapprochement and weakening of the US. China, with its investments projects all over the world could become a mediator helping to prevent future crises.
At the end of the lecture Professor Freeman provided some practical pieces of advice to the countries on how to prevent the social instabilities in the global crises:
- Countries should bolster strategic stockpiles to have enough in stock in case of emergency;
- Find the mechanism of combining public and military emergency drills to make people practice how to conduct in case of civil emergency;
- Oversight the foreign investments not only by their origin but also where they are invested;
- Plan to future increase of the population due to repatriation.