The three-day long Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, which concluded on September 13, showed the increasing shift in Russian interests towards Asian countries and the development of Russia's eastern territories, Neues Deutschland writes in an article.
The newspaper stressed that Moscow has recently intensified its efforts to develop the Far Eastern Federal District by introducing territories of advanced development, which have simplified legislation for businesses and reduced taxes. Moreover, authorities have created several free trade areas, such as Vladivostok and plan to create a tax haven on Sakhalin Island.
All these moves, according to Neues Deutschland, are steps to develop economic ties with Asian states, especially China, which overtook Germany in trade with Russia back in 2010 and has only strengthened its positions following the imposition of sanctions against Moscow by Western states. Although Russia mostly exports raw materials and imports cars and technological products, the economic cooperation between the countries doesn't stop there, the German newspaper added.
Neues Deutschland brought up a recently announced joint venture in Vladivostok between Chinese tech giant Alibaba and two Russian companies — the IT conglomerate Mail.ru and Megafon, which focuses on telecommunication services. Aside from this, the newspaper continues, Russia is positioning itself as a transit route between Asia and Europe in the New Silk Road (Belt and Road) initiative.
Moscow is also making diplomatic efforts to enhance its relations with Tokyo. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held talks on September 10 about the new Japanese missile defense system. The following day, the Russian president made the unexpected proposition to Japan to sign a peace treaty without any preconditions by the end of the year — something that the two countries haven't achieved since the end of the Second World War due to an unresolved territorial dispute.