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The Future of China-Russia Relations$
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James A. Bellacqua

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780813125633

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813125633.001.0001

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Russian Perspectives on China

Russian Perspectives on China

Strategic Ambivalence

(p.33) 2 Russian Perspectives on China
The Future of China-Russia Relations

Andrew Kuchins

University Press of Kentucky

This chapter explores the Russian perspective on China. This perspective is shaped by a complex amalgamation of geopolitical, economic, historical, and cultural factors that add up to a profound ambivalence toward their rapidly growing neighbor. Despite this ambivalence, Russian policy toward China for the past two decades under Boris Yeltsin, Vladimir Putin, and now Dmitri Medvedev has been driven mainly by pragmatic considerations, resulting in a gradual rapprochement and thickening of the relationship. Such perspectives are also very indicative of Russia's identity and view of its place in the world as a uniquely Eurasian power. Additionally, Russian perspectives on China and international relations more broadly tend toward traditional realpolitik considerations of the dynamics between rising and falling great powers. Topics covered include Russian domestic politics, regional security and ideology, and the cooling of U.S.–Russian relations. Despite perceptions of a shifting balance of power and the genuine cooling in U.S.–Russian ties, Russian elites remain at best ambivalent about the emerging Chinese superpower. For historical, cultural, geographic, and economic reasons, Russia's preferred option is to lean west, while improving ties with China both for intrinsic reasons as well as to enhance its leverage with the United States and Europe.

Keywords:   strategic ambivalence, China, Russia, domestic politics, regional security, Russian ideology, U.S.–Russian relations

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