- Press review: Normandy Quartet summit postponed and US helps cement Russian-Chinese ties
- Press review: Can Brexit boost Russian-UK trade ties and will Donbass talks offer any hope
- Press review: Saudis eye Russia’s S-400s and will Syria see peace after Ankara summit
- Press review: Russia, Belarus moving closer and Putin to meet Erdogan, Rouhani in Ankara
Top stories in the Russian press on Wednesday, July 31, prepared by TASS
Media: Russia seeks to establish foothold in China-US dominated region
The foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries and other leading world powers have gathered in Bangkok to try to find ways to strengthen regional security. The US is expected to take advantage of the forum to accuse China of making unfounded claims for control over maritime routes. Russia is not involved in this conflict, Nezavisimaya Gazeta notes.
The focus of meetings between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his counterparts was on the prospects for economic and cultural cooperation between Russia and Southeast Asian countries.
The Russia-ASEAN, China-ASEAN and US-ASEAN events will take place during the forum. As for the scale of trade and investment, Russia cannot compete with heavyweights such as China, the United States and Japan. However, Russia’s advantage is that it never took part in colonial land grabbing and never waged wars in the region, the paper writes.
Meanwhile, leading research fellow at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Far Eastern Studies Grigory Lokshin pointed to mounting regional tensions. "On July 3, a Chinese research vessel accompanied by two coast guard ships entered Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone near the Spratly Islands and started to conduct seismic surveys for oil and natural gas. A Japanese drilling vessel operates in the same zone under a contract with Russian oil producers. When the Chinese came, the Vietnamese deployed their coast guard ships to the area. So they have been trying to frighten each other off for a month," the expert said.
While commenting on a declaration adopted at the ASEAN summit in June, Head of the Southeast Asian Department at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute for Oriental Studies Dmitry Mosyakov told Kommersant that "Russia is pretty satisfied" with the document. "The United States seeks to turn the region into a military bloc and a theater of military operations aimed at isolating China. However, ASEAN’s goal is to create an inclusive space somehow reminiscent of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. Russia can participate in this and search for suitable niches to occupy," the expert remarked.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Conflict between China and US enters cold phase
Another session of trade talks between China and the United States has kicked off in Shanghai. On the eve of negotiations, Chinese media pointed to the country’s readiness to settle for a temporary agreement that would put an end to a hot phase of the trade war, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes.
However, experts doubt that the trade crisis will be resolved quickly. "Right after the trade talks had begun in Shanghai, Trump lashed out at China. The US president claimed that the US economy outstripped that of China and Washington was only ready to make an agreement the US would benefit from. Following that, the negotiation process may take a long time," the Academy of Finance and Investment Management expert Gennady Nikolayev said, adding that China’s economic slowdown is a problem for the entire world. "If the situation doesn’t change, we are in for a global crisis," he warned.
The parties will not take any sharp actions before the 2020 US election, Skolkovo Business School professor Oleg Remyga emphasized. "The economic aspects of the talks directly concern the two countries’ long-term economic development so populist decisions are fraught with economic and social shocks. None of the parties can benefit from it at the moment. This is why protracted negotiations logically flow from the current situation," the expert underscored.
China will make every effort to avoid finalizing agreements on intellectual property protection as long as possible, TeleTrade analyst Pyotr Pushkarev noted. According to him, partial and temporary agreements may ensure that no additional tariffs on new categories of goods are imposed before the year end.
The conflict between the US and China, which has taken the form of economic, technological and ideological competition, has only just begun and will last at least 10-20 years, Veta Expert Group Managing Partner Ilya Zharsky noted.
Vedomosti: US re-attempts to set up coalition against Iran
The United States has resumed talks with countries in Europe, Asia and the Middle East on sending a joint mission to international waters of the Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz, the Strait of Bab-el-Mandeb and the Gulf of Oman, Vedomosti wrote, citing Suddeutsche Zeitung.
In early summer, European countries chose to distance themselves from the conflict between the US and Iran, and before Boris Johnson took office as British prime minister, there were plans to establish a European coalition to protect navigation in the Persian Gulf. However, the United Kingdom volunteered to join a US mission in the Strait of Hormuz at a recent conference hosted by the US Central Command.
Director General of the Europe Insight company Andrei Kulikov believes that measures such as "patrolling, monitoring and the limited presence [of joint troops in the Persian Gulf] won’t affect Johnson’s rating as long as there are no military activities" but if a war broke out, the new British prime minister would hardly secure support from parliament. "Since Iraq, London has been sensitive to any armed conflicts," the expert claimed.
A statement by the US embassy in Berlin made it clear that Germany had also been invited to join the maritime mission. According to Vladislav Belov of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Europe, the German government may consider participation in a US-led coalition because the transatlantic idea remains the backbone of Germany’s international relations and the United States is still its most important ally.
According to foreign media, South Korea and Japan have also received US invitations. Head of the "Europe — the Middle East" Center at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Europe Alexander Shumilin said that any alliance in the Persian Gulf seemed unlikely. If a coalition was created, it would be a European one. As for Japan and South Korea, they are "unlikely to go for it", the expert pointed out, adding that "no one wants to take a tough stand against Iran side by side with the US."
RBC: What helps Huawei resist US sanctions successfully
Chinese tech giant Huawei sold 118 mln smartphones in the first half of 2019, up 24% compared to the same period of 2018, the company’s Chairman Liang Hua stated. Huawei said earlier that smartphone sales dropped by 40% a month after US sanctions had been imposed. However, sales have already rebounded by 80%, RBC writes.
Information and Computer Technologies Industry Association Head Nikolai Komlev pointed out that China’s economic policy was one of the reasons behind Huawei’s success. "The Chinese government provides financial support to domestic tech companies, particularly backing their efforts to expand exports," Komlev explained.
"If a company gets big investments, it can spend money on research and development works, patents and so on. The government’s support and immense domestic demand ensured the company’s financial viability," Senior Vice President of the Kraftway IT Renat Yusupov commented.
Sanctions spurred demand on the Chinese market, the expert noted. "The people’s patriotic sentiment and desire to support domestic producers were the reasons behind the growth," he pointed out. China’s huge consumer market of more than a billion people helps the company’s sales remain at the same level, Yusupov pointed out.
According to Komlev, apart from the government’s support, effective top managers, who bet on training highly qualified personnel and developing new technologies, also played a role in Huawei’s success. "There aren’t many telecom equipment manufacturers in the world. Besides, changing a telecom equipment vendor is a complicated process that can take years. All this may have been the reason why global companies opted not to stop the installation of Huawei’s 5G equipment, ignoring Washington’s call," Yusupov explained.
Kommersant: Using taxis is cheaper than owning private cars in Russia
Owning a private car is far more expensive than riding taxis regularly in Russia, HSBC said in a report. The situation results from relatively high car prices and relatively cheap taxi fees, said analysts interviewed by Kommersant.
An HSBC official told the newspaper that its international research was based on the price of a Toyota Camry, fuel and car maintenance costs, average taxi prices and people's income level. Russia dominated the comparison because of a relatively low income level, which makes it difficult for people to buy cars, and relatively low taxi prices, the bank official explained.
A taxi ride in Russia is roughly 75% cheaper compared to the US, while car ownership cost is only 30% lower. "Taxi prices are proportional to people’s incomes in Russia, but car prices are not," the HSBC official pointed out. According to the bank’s analysts, taxi aggregators can afford to offer low prices because of their large customer audience, since poor public transport systems in many Russian regions boost the demand for taxi services.
It does not come as a surprise that riding taxis is cheaper than owning a car in Russia, said the Head of the Sharing Economy Cluster at the Russian Association for Electronic Communications, Anton Gubitsyn. If car fines and parking fees were also taken into consideration, the difference would be ever so evident, he emphasized.