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Russia shifts focus back to Far East

(People's Daily Online)

08:05, September 07, 2012

Russia has spent billions of dollars in Vladivostok, the administrative center of its Primorsky Krai, for hosting the 24th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit from Sept. 2 to Sept. 9. Chinese President Hu Jintao will attend the 20th informal APEC leaders’ meeting in the Far Eastern city from Sept. 6 to Sept. 9 at the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Russia’s creation of Far East Development Ministry in May this year and hosting of the ongoing APEC summit both indicate that the country stretching across Europe and Asia has shifted its focus back to the economically and strategically significant Russian Far East.

Russia spends billions for APEC summit, plans to build new economic growth corridor

According to preliminary estimates, the Russian government has spent more than 20 billion U.S. dollars refurbishing Vladivostok by building a new airport, new roads and bridges, installing communications equipment, purifying water from underground reservoirs, and other means for hosting the APEC summit.

The center of gravity of world economic activity has been steadily shifting to the Asia-Pacific region over the past few decades, and the economic downturn in recent years has accelerated this trend. Experts predict that the region’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate will be much higher than the world average just a few years later.

Putin ordered the creation of Far East Development Ministry in May shortly after his return to the presidency, in hopes that the Russian Far East can develop more rapidly and provide fresh impetus to the country’s overall economic development. Russia has made remarkable economic progress, but its economy remains overly dependent on energy exports.

Facing threat from US and Japan, Russia attaches increasing importance to Far East

The shift of Russia’s focus back to its Far East deserves special attention in the context of the United States’ “return” to the Asia-Pacific region.

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