The most crucial breakthroughs, in terms of development of specific countries and civilization as a whole, were always interrelated with some large-scale projects: let us remind you “Lend Lease”, “BAM” (Baikal-Amur mainline) or any space programs of the 50-70s. In modern history we can highlight a project of sustainable development (and alternative energy development as a part of it) or, for example, a “New Silk Road”, which has already been presented. Another large-scale project being discussed in Russia is the Trans-Eurasian Corridor “Razvitie”, which has potential to spur the technical-economic development of our country. We interviewed one of the ideologists of that project – methodologist Yury Gromyko.
– What is this project?
The project is about forming a new type of platform for investment and economic development. The main aim of this project is to create a new wealth generating pole in the Russian territories (first of all, West Siberian, East Siberian and Far Eastern) together with Western Europe basing on friendly, neighboring and mutually profitable trade exchanges with China. In fact, we are talking about another emerging technological pole in the area of Eurasia, besides China. The crucial issue is how to create this industrial science-intensive asset of the new type and its placement within the infrastructures of the next generation. Those infrastructures become a crucial factor of the production defining transportation (in its broad sense) of the needed quantity of the qualitative resources (energy, information, materials, technology) and also an important factor in the process of the new settlement’s and city’s formation.
– Can we consider the project “Razvitie” as an alternative to the New Silk Road?
The Trans-Eurasian Corridor “Razvitie” implies principally new geo-economics, geopolitics and geo-cultural concepts. It differs from a concept “land bridge” and “development corridor” that are simply integrated within the new emerging concept. Geo-economics novelty clues lie in the forming of the new pole of common wealth generation, evident on the background of existing world economics. The geopolitical aspect presupposes the creation of the new form of international cooperation within strategic planning and neo-industrial settling of a wide area. At last, geo-culture aspect clues in the display of the Eurasian ideology, based on the dialogue of civilizations.
Undoubtedly, that approach allows us to activate the idea of the Great Silk Road anew, but not only as a transport highway, but as a communicative super-infrastructure for interaction of different states, different religions and civilizations.
It is important to note, the initial moment pointed the start of the discussions on the issue of land bridge or – as it was named by the Chinese experts on geopolitics – “continental bridge”, was the conference which took place on 7th of May, 1996, in Beijing, with the participation of the group of American economists Lyndon LaRouche. It is on that conference where the ideas of the corridor of the development were announced. Further, they were developed in a number of interesting papers by Jonathan Tennenbaum.
According to the data of American researcher Kathy Wolfe, the concept of the Eurasia continental land bridge was first mentioned in the papers of Katsuhide Nagayama. The researcher supposes to use metaphorical term Iron Silk Road (for the railway road construction) referring to the Government and the President of Korea Republic. It was in the papers of Tennenbaum where the terms “land bridge” and “development corridor” were filled with an instrumental sense.
The idea of the corridor of development was, at that time, interpreted by the American official geo-strategists as China`s attempt to begin territorial expansion beyond the borders of the country, the ambition to seize the whole continent and to make Chinese economics the dominant center of a logistic networks, obtaining a huge reserve for growth. Therefore, Chinese geo-strategists and logistic groups proposed to first develop t the ideas of the Southern branch of the country`s bridge from China to Europe (on the basis of a railway) through Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Iraq and Turkey.
Surely, the development only in this direction would weaken the Tran-Siberian railroad serving as a main Russian transport infrastructure uniting Europe and the Far East. But due to the war with Iraq this discussion on the Southern Silk Railway Road seemed to be at inappropriate times. Perhaps nowadays, after the US troops pull out, the discussions on the idea of a Southern Silk Road can be initiated again.
Regarding Russia, it is clear that Russia is interested in modernization and development of its railway land bridge in two main directions: one goes from Urumqi, through Almaty to Astana, Petropavlovsk and Ekaterinburg, while the second route is the one embracing the Trans-Siberian railroad. The modernization of the Trans-Siberian railroad means the necessity to use the BAM (Baikal-Amur Mainline) and build a tunnel or bridge to connect Sakhalin Island with the mainland. This connection may also be used in order to connect it further with Hokkaido, thus involving Japan in the railway transportation infrastructure of the BAM and the Trans-Siberian railway.
– In other words, the project of Trans-Eurasian Corridor “Razvitie” is an attempt to maintain the functionality of the Trans-Siberian railway and to give China a fitting response.
I would say that the prerequisites of the project are much deeper, for instance one of them, as we claim, is an attempt to find the ways out of the continuing world financial and economic crisis. This solution is connected with the conditions for advancement of the new techno-industrial formation, though its structure and essence are still unclear for members of large financial groups, investment companies, and private capital. What is more, it is still not evident how to connect the technologies of the new techno-industrial capital, new industries and new industrial sectors to exact territories. What will be constructed and where? And how will it appear?
At the same time, what we call “territorialization” of the new techno-industrial formation is a very important explanation of the government goals, as they claimed an intention to create new industries and new sectors of employment. Despite the desires of the state authorities, foreign and national capital would flow to those areas and into those projects where profit rate is the biggest and political risks are the least. That is why the changeover of the new techno-industrial formation on the “territorialization” base is a challenge for society. And we are eager to work in order to have a solid platform where all the necessary conditions could be created.
Therefore, we believe that the two following aims are so important: – modernization of the existing industries in the country using new industrial technologies; – creation of joint international technological systems that would be brand new for every country-participant – which will be oriented towards the new emerging markets. Thus, an important step is to create the infrastructure of the Tans-Eurasian corridor “Razvitie” on the basis of transport and energy corridors. This task is important not only in terms of eliminating customs barriers for trade and exchange of existing lists of goods among the states, but also in order to set new large-scale industrialization agreed among the participants on its terms, using Soviet and international experience in the sphere of producing new goods, services, technologies, basing on the vision of international processes of the contemporary world.
There is a proposal to mark the zones within the “Razvitie” corridor where the new industrial systems will be situated. New industrial systems mean the systems where you can find some technological solutions for infrastructure development, settlement building that does not exist somewhere else on the Earth and that, therefore, signifies the next step for development of the whole of mankind. In these “future-zones” researchers, inventors, architects, who have important and bold decisions for society breakthroughs into the future can be found and those ideas and decisions will be examined very carefully and attentively in great detail. In this respect the Trans-Eurasian Corridor “Razvitie” can become a form for mobilization of the EU system of industries and practice-oriented projects.
The Trans-Eurasian corridor “Razvitie” must be based not on catching-up but on the advancing industrialization. We are eager to create new breakthrough technologies, in order to form the infrastructure of the next techno-industrial formation – thermonuclear and sun energy, nanomaterials, laser machine-tool equipment, space engines, biophotonics systems, maglev transport systems. It is about multi-technological centers embracing 3, 4, 5 new discoveries at the same time.
In the post-Soviet scientific centers – in Kazakhstan and Russia – there are technological solutions for a large spectrum of industries. But post-Soviet applied science with the ability to create experimental equipment is far away from the existing mass production industrial systems owing to institutional weakness and the collapse of projects and applied research institutions. That is why there is a strong need for integration of Russian and Kazakh scientific research and European industrial systems of the future. For instance, such advanced industrial systems are a network of industrial enterprises “Fabbrica del Futuro” (Italy). The main conditions for transferring scientific research and new discoveries into new technologies that can be, then, deployed into mass production (thus, becoming turnkey technologies for large corporations), are formulated and outline in the practice of such type of innovative networks and groups.
The most important point is that Trans-Eurasian Corridor “Razvitie” should meet our own requirements, when we need to develop vast territories having a small population, which should provide motivation to have big families. This is another way towards the future than the one that Southeast Asian countries are experiencing with having vast populations. And we surely need a big network of international “over-competent” experts in order to implement and elaborate on this project.
– I guess the existence of such a network of experts is not the only precondition for a successful launch of the project, is it?
That is true. In order to approach the future one should have one’s own vision and “long will”. The project of the Trans-Eurasian Corridor “Razvitie” is not an exception to that rule. When I talk about an outline of the architecture of the project, I mean long-term infrastructure projects of territorial reclamation based on transport, energy, ICT infrastructure, as well as water transport infrastructure. Though these are long-term and large-scale projects, they should not follow the case of socialist “dolgostroy” (unfinished and delayed constructing) with serious changes in deadlines and costing increases during the construction period. On the contrary, there should be identified such units of projects that a profit would be made before the finish of the whole project. An elementary example of such a project would be a hydro-electric turbine, which starts producing electricity before the dam is finished.
In order to increase the return of investments into the Trans-Eurasian corridor “Razvitie” it is important to apply the cascade way of launching the projects. This means that there should be designed such a type of industrial through-activity that can be taken from one object to another. For instance, it is well-known that the group of workers who constructed the biggest tunnel along the BAM, after finishing it they did not find another job, which meant that they did not have a chance to capitalize on the unique competences of tunnel-building.
– How will the work on architecture of the Trans-Eurasian Corridor “Razvitie” be started?
To begin with, this will be new types and forms of settlements, households, young cities, that will form the natural environment around the corridor “Razvitie”. New modern settlements must become centers for attracting young people from all over the world. If Italians and Spanish, having enormous levels of unemployment, are unable to build their house and raise their family on their own land, they will come for territorial reclamation of Siberia, Yakutia and Northern Kazakhstan, and then Russians and Kazakhs will follow suit. Territorial reclamation is about new special projects for developing vast landscapes, as opposed to natural increase of rural population in India and China and the movement of rural populations to the cities. An artificially constructed neo-urbanistic environment is regarded as an alternative form and way of territorial reclamation comparing to natural urbanization in Asia.
Trans-Eurasian Corridor “Razvitie” will be comprised of beautiful and convenient science-intensive towns, with a comfortable life environment, populated by highly qualified, highly paid professionals. By 2033, on the forming territory of the Eurasian union in the Trans-Eurasian zone of “Razvitie” 10 new towns will emerge. These must be new type of settlement engaged in servicing the new industrial megalopolises and science intensive plants that will be under construction.
Three main lines around which the Trans-Eurasian corridor “Razvitie” will probably be centered around were identified. The first line is “Novosibirsk-Krasnoyarsk” through Kemerovo, the second is “Astana-Almaty” through Karaganda, the third – “Vladivostok-Khabarovsk”. Probably, there should be a discussion over the fourth line: “Yekaterinburg-Tyumen” which is important for connecting European parts of Russian with Siberia. Therefore, new young cities should be constructed along these 3-4 lines. The basis for the transport corridor is the ultra-high-speed maglev trains both for people and cargo.
– This means that the infrastructures themselves should be constructed with the application of the elaborations of the new techno-industrial formation?
The main idea of the Trans-Eurasian Corridor Razvitie implies project development and creating physical infrastructures with the overall capacity several times more than existing ones (I am talking, first of all, about energy and transport infrastructure). We are interested in ultra-high-speed trains that have two times higher velocity than ordinary high-speed trains (i.e. 500-700 km/h). We are interested in such energy systems through which we can decrease the CO2 emissions and harmful effects for the environment, but also create higher density energy flows per territorial unit. This is an important point as we believe that for a new industrialization level we need to increase not only energy efficiency but also horsepower available within the industrial systems and existing territories. As Prof. Tennenbaum shows in his works, the possibility to buy some turnkey German technologies is intertwined with achieving certain levels of horsepower available. Petrochemicals, coal chemistry, natural gas utilization, laser building, machine tools building, biotech, engine building development is dependent on the level of horsepower available per worker. It is no coincidence that the world leader in energy consumption per person is an industrializing and technological superpower – Japan.
One of the main spheres of energy systems development is the creation of power bridges, ensuring the reclamation of river’s water power potential and energy transfer to Europe in case of its overuse based on superconductivity technologies. At the same time the power bridges ensure the connectivity of the whole Eurasian landmass and, thus, should serve as an electric bus line as well. This presupposes another direction for developing smart grids. If in the US the main purpose for developing smart grids is to ensure self-balance and self-sufficiency within exact energy-regions with minimum cross-flows among energy regions – energy systems, in case of Russia we should construct an electric busline as a common power line along the territory of the Eurasian union with other energy regions connected to this line. Connection means the ability to both consume energy but also to supply it, as well as the ability to connect power sites as if you just plugged them in. The energy busline should be constructed so to have special interfaces to be connected with energy systems of Europe, China, Korea, Japan, thus, being an energy bridge, supplying other regions with energy. It is impossible to construct such energy bridges – energy buslines without application of technologies of the next techno-industrial formation. As an example, I would mention a cable with superconductivity quality. To produce such cables one should have tens of high-intensive plants.
– But this would take enormous investments…
The project itself presupposes certain investment ambitions. There are a lot of project initiatives worth 10-100 billion Euros, but if we are discussing the Trans-Eurasian Corridor “Razvitie” as a populated area 200-300 km wide along the Eurasian transport corridors – it would be even higher – trillions, tens of trillions of Euros. The level of project planning is important for identification of the needed investments and capital. We need to create international financial pools, thus, identifying conditions for securing political risks and judicial forms of infrastructure used for investment return (concessions, access to new technological solutions, external social effects – decrease of the unemployment rate in the EU, mitigating ecological risks etc.)
The main precondition for long-term investments (some trillions of Euros) from foreign investors (Europe, China) into the creation and realization of such a program is a united system for the whole lifecycle of the integrated infrastructure – from the creation of the project plan to the utilization of old infrastructure units. Another important precondition is the ability for requirements management in the process of constructing the new types of infrastructure. Forming one united management system for the infrastructure complex is an alternative to the plans for privatization of state corporations.
During the elaboration of the financial tools of the new type of investment we lean on the work of the Long-Term Investors Club and closely cooperate with the representatives of that club. The main participants of the Long-Term Investors Club are the four greatest European banks: Italian bank «Cassa Depositi e Prestiti» (chairman – Franco Bassanini), French bank «Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations», legendary German bank, financing the «German miracle» – «Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau» and European investment bank.