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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Why Is Russia Excluded From Seattle Summit?

Russia is an Asian power with a long coastline on the Pacific Ocean, where Russia also deploys the second most powerful naval force. Shrunken though it is, the Russian army deployed in Asia is at least the second most powerful military force on the continent. and the raw materials of Siberia probably represent Asia's greatest store of potential wealth.


So why is Russia pointedly not being invited to the first Asian-Pacific summit, which Boris Yeltsin's good friend Bill Clinton is hosting in Seattle later this month?


China will be there, along with Japan and South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Australia will play a big role, having urged the Americans for years to start taking the Pacific Rim seriously.


The fast-growing Association of Southeast Asian Nations countries will be there, Malaysia and Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia and the Philippines. The economic dynamics in this region are compelling. Bear in mind that these nations now take more of Australia's exports than either the United States or the European Community.


Russian diplomats have been dropping some heavy hints about their exclusion. One point they make is that Russia is a member in good standing of the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council. So was there something deliberate in the United States and its Asian friends deciding to hold the Seattle summit under the auspices of the Asia-Pacific Economic Council, which excludes Russia, rather than Pacific Economic Cooperation Council?


You bet there was. It was partly to do with the American-Australian decision that the Pacific summit should focus on economics rather than the more contentious issues of security. Already, the trade and investment flows across the Pacific are much greater than those across the traditional commercial route of the Atlantic. The other reason for Russia's exclusion was China. It was tricky enough getting China to attend a summit alongside Taiwan and Hong Kong. and China is not keen on welcoming Russia into the new summit club.


The latest issue of "Foreign Affairs", the house journal of the U. S. foreign policy establishment, cites an "internal and classified document, circulated among senior Chinese officials", which helps explain the problem.


"One cold war is over; two more are beginning. The Sino-Soviet Cold War has ended, but the confrontation between the two systems and the two ideologies continues to rage", it read.


According to current growth rates, China should have a bigger economy than Japan sometime in the next decade, and should overtake the U. S. economy another decade or so after that.


One of the great tests of Russian statesmanship in the near future will be how it handles the Chinese problem. Being excluded from the crucial world gatherings where everybody else is grappling with the same problem is a bad way for Russia to start.