The SRC international symposium
“Comparing the Politics of the Eurasian Regional Powers:
 China, Russia, India and Turkey”
was held on December 12-13, 2009

January 14, 2010, by TANG Liang

  The Second International Symposium of Comparative Research on Major Regional Powers in Eurasia was held at the Sotobori Building at the Ichigaya Campus of Hosei University on Dec. 12-13, 2009. This symposium was mainly organized by the Domestic Politics Group (Group 2). The symposium considered the dynamics of political change, the realities of economic transition and issues of local governance as well as methodologies in comparative politics of regional powers in the context of phenomena such as globalization, liberalization and development in information technology, under the general theme “Comparing the Politics of the Eurasian Regional Powers: China, Russia, India and Turkey.” The event consisted of a panel discussion composed of keynote speeches and a round table, and three other sessions.

The 3 speakers that delivered the keynote speeches analyzed the political and economic transition as well as the impact of the development of the Indian economy on development economics, within the framework of the comparative perspective of each regional power based on the experiences of the former Soviet and Russia, China and India. The panelists at the roundtable discussed the greater aim of comparative research and methods of conducting comparative research as well as the methodological and practical issues that may arise in the joint efforts or collaboration among area studies scholars of various fields or disciplines. The roundtable ended with the recognition of the importance of the intellectual process to conduct comparative analysis to not only to extract each country’s unique characteristics but also to generalise common issues.

The presentations during the first session, “Sub-national Units for Modernization and Democracy: Villages and NGOs in Russia, China, and India,” included a comparative analysis between India and Russia concerning the relationship between sub-national democracy and the influence of Christianity, comparative study on the governance and public goods in Chinese and Russian villages and a comparative analysis of social conflict and conflict resolution using the case of land expropriation issue in China and India. Much of the focus of the audience was on the achievements based on rich statistical data, field work and case studies.

There is nothing more political than religion. Religious politics is a crucial touchstone for the future of regional powers as we are witness to the Xinjiang issue in China, Chechnya issue in Russia, religious conflict between the Hindu and other religions and the heightening of Islamism in Turkey. The presentations in the 2nd session “A Key to Greatness. Religious Politics in Regional Powers” consisted of the influence of the religious and cultural difference-- particularly Christianity and the distinctiveness of Asian values--on human rights, the management of Islamic mosques and organizations in Turkey, Russia and China, and a comparative analyasis on ethnic and religious conflicts and foreign policies in South Asia.

Economic development has progressed in regional powers and the quality of life of the people has improved to some extent, however, the distribution of the benefits of development is not always equal. In the 3rd session “Realignment of Social Strata and its Cleavages” The first speaker, Vamsi Vakulabharanam, identified the similarity and difference between India and China regarding the economic inequality using statistical data. The second speaker, Hiroaki Hayashi, analyzed the composition of the Russian middle class and the diversity of values and compared it to the middle class in China. The last speaker, Shigeto Sonoda, presented his comparative analysis on how social inequality is perceived in China, India and Russia, based on the survey data of the Asia Barometer 2008.

The underlying perspective throughout the symposium was a challenging and dynamic attempt for “comparison.” We were able to not only illustrate the particularities of each regional power, but also move towards the direction of abstracting common or universal qualities. Moreover, the two day symposium brought in an audience of 150 and vigorous and lively discussions took place between the speakers and participants. The Nihon Keizai Shimbun and Hokkaido Shimbun both reported on this event on their paper issued on Dec 13th. The famous Chinese news site, Xinhua, also uploaded an article regarding this symposium. The presentations and the roundtable discussion will be published as discussion papers of the Comparative Research on Major Regional Powers in Eurasia Project. The valuable knowledge and information obtained from this symposium will certainly be significant asset to the project in the future.



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