China and Russia: values for tomorrow's world

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MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Dmitry Kosyrev). A joint declaration on the international order in the 21st century will perhaps be the main document of a June 30-July 3 Russo-Chinese summit. Vladimir Putin and Hu Jintao will sign it in Moscow.

Nothing is yet said what the document will deal with. It may contain provisions on inadmissibility of some state or a group of states claiming a monopoly on world affairs and imposing its social development model on other societies and cultures. It may also feature many other points which Moscow and Beijing do not even need to agree on - it is understandable that these two capitals and two societies have one and the same political philosophy. Such documents have problems in that far from all of them get noted by their potential readers. Most of international forums attended by leaders of tens of states have resolutions looking like each other and containing about the same arguments we will see in the Russo-Chinese declaration. And yet some documents - the Bandung Declaration of fifty years ago, for example - play a long and lasting role in international politics, while others have less spectacular destinies. It is like with books - some, for all their brilliance, courage, depth and even large editions - go unnoticed, while others change epochs (the most outstanding example of them is perhaps the Koran). Moreover, the future destiny of such written texts is impossible to predict. But on the other hand, one cannot fail to see that in the case of Russia and China it is a joint document of two great powers in the ascendant. Both are bound to play in the coming decades a far greater role in the world than they are playing now. As for China, it is practically guaranteed the role of the world's first-ranking power in the next 20-30 years, and any disputes about this issue are in fact laid to rest.

But what is leadership? What makes some or other state a world leader, or, rephrasing this question, a "pole of influence" in the present multi-polar world? Its gross domestic product, or the world's interest in its economy? No doubt. But that is not enough. Military power? It is always limited as American experience in Iraq has shown. And even nuclear weapons as a factor of global influence are a thing of the past. Even Pakistan has nuclear weapons - and for all respect to it, no one is expecting it to lead the world in any way.

Yet ideological, moral and cultural values are growing in importance in the world today. And it can be assumed that the increasing world role of such countries as China or India is linked closely with values produced by their ancient civilisations - and this is going to be increasingly apparent with each year.

Western civilization, justly or not, considers human rights to be "its" value. China and other Far Eastern cultures can contribute to global culture their cult of human dignity - as is noticeable in daily contacts in these countries.

It will be noted that leadership is never silent. Perhaps the main task Russia and China are yet to learn to fulfil is to make their philosophy known to many countries and peoples in this world.

Too often in recent history have we seen countries so confident they are right that their leaders considered it unnecessary to explain their position to others. And each time the results were sad - Serbia in the 90s is just one example. But unlike an ideological struggle (as part of the Cold War), competition of ideas does not presuppose victories or defeats. It is rather like growing a common garden from different saplings. And the specifics of the declaration to be signed by Putin and Hu is that it is being adopted for dialogue, rather than confrontation. Incidentally, even the diplomatic timetable of both leaders supports this.

The Russo-Chinese summit is to be followed by a summit in Kazakhstan's capital Astana of the organization which can be regarded as a joint Russo-Chinese project in Central Asia - the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. Security and economic development, yet also ideology, are important for this organization, which includes the region's developing nations - Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Later the Chinese leader will, like Vladimir Putin, go to Britain to attend a G-8 meeting with heads of future leaders - Brazil, India, China, Mexico and South Africa. The make-up of this meeting is noteworthy. While the G-8 itself is largely an anachronism now (it includes many countries that carry little weight in the world), then combined with five "newcomers" it becomes a club of world leaders wielding the destinies of the globe.

An ability to formulate one's positions on world developments is the sine qua non of leadership. Moscow and Beijing proceed from this in their joint document.

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