Imagine walking into a place, where there are couple of hundreds of unfamiliar and very serious people, all being distantly-yet-friendly with each other. You try to find a safe and quite (and preferably a bit cozier) place to stay, but the announcement says that the session starts in couple of minutes. There are 5 halls, where to go? Why are some people still chatting, while the others grab some kind of special translating equipment? Uncomfortable enough? It’s economical congress; you are majoring in history (and indeed were always all about the humanities). In other words, here’s a story of how I visited a press-center as an accredited journalist for the very first time and listened to economics talks (surprisingly, I comprehended what was happening most of the time) all day at the Eurasian Economical Congress II.
As a person who is genuinely interested in politics and current affairs in general, I still have to have some sort of base knowledge in economics. Never have I ever thought that I’ll get to visit a congress in this field, though.
Last year people discussed the newly created Eurasian Economical Union, so I had some unclear understanding of what the topic was. Making a research on the Interned didn’t bring much more comprehension, though I noted several articles on issues that the union has faced lately. With some sort of slight confusion about the topic and fear of the unknown (read: visiting a press-center all by myself) I, in a way, was ready to go.
Basically, the first talk was about the results of the very first year of functioning of EAEU. It was mentioned by Pilko Aleksei Vasylevich, director of Eurasian Communications Centre that “the predictions of skeptics were false” and the union is working, while Tatyana Valovaya – a minister of the main directions of integration and macroeconomics – affirmed that “the set goals were achieved”. She said that the difficult 2015 was a year when the countries of the union faced crisis phenomena, but she supposed that without EAEU the situation would only be more difficult. One of the reasons for creation of the union was need to meet new global challenges jointly, and, as the future global architecture will be based upon several dozens of unions, EAEU’s destiny is to be one of the key-players. Igor Viktorovich Petreshenko, Belorussian ambassador wished that the business-sector was proving more active in the field of EAEU legislation creation, and that it would purpose realistic departmental decisions.
Then the talk proceeded to Gomin Vladimir Anatolievitch, who discussed the creation of the immensely important unified customs code. He mentioned several important problems in legislations that the countries in the union have for now. The laws are outdated, really cumbersome and are not orientated on the modern informational technology standards. Apparently, in the very beginning the model for EAEU was EU, and the interaction with it was in the main focus, but as the union was progressing, quite good business dealings were established, for instance with China, so the specter of interaction has widened.
President of Indian Business alliance Sammi Kotwani, who was also holding a forum as a part of the event, assured everyone that after the visit of the prime-minister of India to Moscow on, the relationships of the two countries will ameliorate, and Russia and the union will know who their true friend is. According to him, with Eurasian energy and Indian economic growth, “we can make it together”. Besides, the market that India can offer is quite impressive, isn’t it?
Discussing the expectations from 2016, the majority of speakers not abruptly wished that the crisis would end, that “integration of integration” would strengthen in its action. Mr. Galich’s wish concerned phasing-out of the barriers, while Slucky Leonid Eduardovich inter alia expressed his hope for the multi-polar world.
The discussion has ended and finally, there were several minutes for break. Some journalists went on stage to ask speakers for comments, which I needed to do as well. The action seemed so chaotic (cameras, recorders and the ceaseless exchange of the business cards) that I felt kind of alien and decided to make my journalistic move on the actual coffee-break, not press-briefing. But then a session went after a session, break after break, and the speakers were either hastily heading towards the exit or were nowhere to be found (and if they were, there’s no way I could ask the question I needed due its specific character).
The session on partnerships of EAEU was held quite lively. The issues discussed included the Silk Road, projects of BRICS ranking agency, creation of the common payment card etc. But the most interesting part for me was the discussion of what obstacles are business people facing when they are dealing with China because of the different characters of cultures. By some fortunate march of events, there were couple of minutes of break with very few people around, so, summoning my courage up, we asked Preksin Oleg Mikhailovich, vice-president of Russian alliance of manufacturers and entrepreneurs, who brought up this topic, to give his comment to the Read Square magazine on reasons of certain difficulty in communication with China and how we, fellow students, can make a change:
“Russia and China are two different civilizations. Between China being a civilization, that pretends to be a country and Russo-Slavic culture the difference is in thousands of years of isolated development. The process of rapprochement is happening right now, and probably both countries need to strengthen contacts in all ways, from students to pensioners, not mentioning businessmen, who should mind the differences in business practices that has were formed in each country. Then it would be possible to understand each other better. And there are no doubts that communications in education, such as exchange programs are helping to ameliorate understanding and the results can already be seen”.
Wishing to see the whole picture, we decided to talk with Nan Zhao, Chinese student of HSE, who represented an insight to his own culture:
“There are relatively huge cultural conflicts and counterstrategies between Russia and China in Cross-cultural communication, although the economic and business relationship between these two countries has reached a new peak since 1970s.
Starting from a simple example, it is to be said, that both Chinese and Russian business men hold a principle of hard work.
However, from Russian point of view, anything should be lagged until the work is completely finished. They would like to miss out on meals, be sleepless and even shorten the time spent with their families, just in order to finish their work on time and make it prosper. In addition, they never negotiate business affairs during meal or after drinking. Yet, in typical Chinese businesses, people prefer not to miss out or put off any meals, sometimes they just expect to get out from the stressful negotiating scene and earn a small break. On the other hand, Chinese businessmen prefer to negotiate during dinner especially after being tipsy, so that they could more straightly express their emotions. In other words in many cases, successful negotiations are based on good friendship. Namely, in the first place you need to make friends with Chinese before starting bargaining with them (and usually booze is the ideal platform for it).
It might result from the different views on trustworthiness of others. According to Hall (2013), the World Bank conducted a research that indicated that more than 50 percent of Chinese businessmen tend to trust the majority of people they meet in businesses, even the friends of their friends, while the figure for Russian businessmen was 16 percent lower. Russian people usually give enough trust solely to their interpersonal connections and the people they have met in person.
Meanwhile, there are some similarities between these two countries. As long as the trust between persons has been built up, it is very common to do gift-exchange as a sign of politeness, and to switch the business relationship into personal relationship. In other words, they could be close friendships, originated from business relationships”.
Sophia Ruoqi Cao is applying for Master Program in International Business: «The role of international students in another country is huge. We also should take responsibility to communicate with local people, get understand each other better, develop friendship. We should let people know more about the real China. If we go abroad, we will delegate our country, so should be polite.»
In autumn HSE International office hosted a Cultural Café. At the cultural café, Sophia Cao spoke about Chinese culture and wrote «Read Square» in Chinese.
«I know here are a lot of misunderstandings between foreign countries with China. I would be happy to show much more about Chinese culture and to solve some problems we have. And we shouldn’t forget how rich Chinese culture is! It’s not limited to several search results you could get on Google. What I want to give people is a true in-depth view on a real China»- commented Sophia Cao.
According to her latest interview to HSE News Service she has just been accepted by Caixin media company. «I want to show Chinese people and the world the real, beautiful Russia, to show Russian culture, so more people know how kind Russian people are, to clear up misunderstandings»- also mentioned Sophia.
Discussing the expectations from 2016, the majority of speakers at the Eurasian Economical Congress II not abruptly wished that the crisis would end, that “integration of integration” would strengthen in its action. Mr. Galich’s wish concerned phasing-out of the barriers, while Slucky Leonid Eduardovich inter alia expressed his hope for the multi-polar world.