The Idea of Eastern Countries in Pacific Russia: The Paradoxes of Public Opinion
This article examines the research results of the Public Opinion Research Laboratory of the Institute of History of the RAS obtained during field studies of 2010–2021. The authors analyse the key elements of the views of the Far Eastern Federal District residents on the countries of East Asia – China, Japan, North, and South Korea. Also, the authors focus on such basic elements of these notions as historical memory, people’s economic and humanitarian needs, and external threats to regional and national security. It is established that historical memory works selectively. Regarding China, it supports the uncertain feelings of Pacific Russians in the finality of resolving the border issue between the two countries, while Japanese territorial claims are primarily perceived through the prism of modern politics. However, neither one nor the other prevents the inhabitants’ interest in the history and culture of the neighboring states, focusing their economic interests on interaction, first of all, with these three countries. It is China, Japan, and South Korea that they consistently view as major economic partners of Pacific Russia. The authors estimate that the high level of development of these countries’ economies along with the uniqueness and attractiveness of authentic cultures, as well as positive assessments of the current state and prospects of bilateral relations en masse have become the forces of attraction that encourage the Far Easterners to have a fellow feeling for them. At the same time, the countries of the Korean peninsula receive much less attention in Pacific Russia, and their images are mostly neutral and vague. The authors also note that the stereotypes that were rooted in the minds of Russians more than a century ago (the refined culture of Japan and the poor, uncultured China) place these two countries on different levels in the rating of their sympathies: Japan was a stable and undisputed leader, while China, despite noticeable rising popularity in recent years, along with South Korea remained in the middle. Finally, they conclude that a large proportion of the residents of the region, although not trusting their Asian neighbours too much, are not only interested in an economic interaction with the surrounding Asian world but are also psychologically committed to it.
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