The Baltic Region

2018 Vol. 10 №2

One Belt - One Road Initiative: A Window of Opportunity for Russia’s Western Border Regions

Abstract

In recent years, global geo-economic transformations have been considerably affected by the development of the People’s Republic of China, its reviving leadership and ambitions, and its increasing efforts to reformat and integrate the Eurasian space. The One Belt — One Road Initiative is a manifesto and a tool to advance China’s long-term geostrategic interests that spread to the bordering states and regions and to the prospects of their socioeconomic development. The initiative encompasses transportation and logistics, production and investment, finances, research and technology, humanitarian affairs, and foreign policy. In this article, we will highlight the key geoeconomic and geopolitical aspects of the One Belt — One Road initiative implementation, based on the Chinese and Russian studies. Another goal is to weigh up the risks and benefits associated with the extension of the project to Russian territories. Special attention is paid to Russia’s western borderlands — 17 regions that account for 8.6 % of the country’s territory, 17.4 % of the total GRP, and 20.8 % of the national population. We analyse the factors in effect — including geopolitical ones, as well as current trends in the development of Russia’s western borderlands. It is shown that the inclusion into the Chinese Eurasian integration initiatives creates additional incentives for a positive re-evaluation of the Russian space as a whole and holds special relevance for Russia’s western borderlands. We analyse the possibility of including Russia’s Baltic regions — the infrastructural and economic island of the Kaliningrad exclave among them — into the One Belt — One Road Initiative.

Download an article

Equivocality in Delineating the Borders of a Cluster: The Baltic’s Case

Abstract

Increasing competition between states striving to integrate into the global economic system has created a need for a spatially targeted regional policy as a means of boosting national competitiveness. The regional polarisation approach, which seeks to create new and support the existing nodes of a regional economic system — clusters, technopoles, industrial districts, etc., — has gained wide currency in public administration. The heralds of such forms of spatial networking are various institutional, cultural, organizational, technological, social, and cognitive proximities. Combinations of these proximities create the unique mosaic of a regional milieu. Geographical proximity translates into the boundaries of spatial networks, which rarely follow the existing administrative divisions. Thus, the identification of spatial networks is becoming the focus of regional governance. This article is part of a complex study on equivocality in identifying the boundaries of spatial networking. In this work, we pay particular attention to delineating the boundaries of territorial clusters. This form of spatial networking is both a contemporary tool for targeted regional development and a result of spontaneous functional integration of economic entities. Building on an extensive factual base, we present a complex model of territorial cohesion for delineating the boundaries of a territorial cluster. The model makes it possible to integrate data on geographical, institutional, cultural, organisational, technological, social, and cognitive proximities. The properties of a cluster as a form of networking warrants distinguishing between internal, external, thematic, and absorptive types of boundaries. The feasibility of this approach is tested in the Baltics’ national and regional clusters, with special attention being paid to the Latvian IT-cluster. Committed to economic clustering and glocal cluster interactions beyond national borders, the Baltics are an ideal case study for testing our model. Latvia’s mature IT-cluster is an important national growth point. Regional and industry-specific policies should consider the differences between the cluster’s geographical and non-geographical boundaries.

Download an article