RSIS Seminar by Dr Alexander Korolev, Research Fellow, Centre on Asia and Globalisation, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore
On the Verge of Alliance: Defining and Explaining Contemporary China-Russia Relations
Russia’s recent high-profile “Turn to the East” and the deterioration of Russia-U.S. relations as a consequence of the Ukraine crisis, on the one hand, and China’s “new assertiveness” in the South and East China Seas and the subsequent tensions in U.S.-China relations, on the other, have reignited discussions among both policy advocates and scholars about the prospects of China-Russia strategic partnership as a counterbalancing coalition against the U.S.-led unipolarity. At the same time, however, China-Russia relations have not been sufficiently defined and explained. The existing characteristics, found in both academic and journalistic accounts, range widely from some forms of alliance to competition or even rivalry. Such diversity of definitions not only obfuscates understanding of actual dynamics and the role of China-Russia relations in world politics, but also hampers grounding these important relations in international relations theory. Moreover, the reinvigorated discussion of China-Russia relations is accompanied by age-old myths about and cliché views of China, Russia, and the relations between them that require closer empirical examination.
In this talk, the speaker develops and applies a set of alliance criteria to define how close the current China-Russia relations approach the alliance condition. Among the parameters covered are China’s and Russia’s motives to form an alliance, degrees and features of institutionalization of the current interstate interactions, and the formats and content of military collaboration. It is demonstrated that China and Russia are “on the verge of alliance” – a condition when only minor steps are needed for a formal military alliance to materialize, but the occurrence of such steps is not guaranteed. The presented analysis also employs a neoclassical realist framework, which combines both international systemic and state-level variables, to explore the causes and consequences of the current dynamics of China-Russia relations.
About the Speaker:
Dr. Alexander Korolev is a Research Fellow at the Centre on Asia and Globalisation, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore. His research interests include international relations theory and comparative politics with special reference to China and Russia. Dr. Korolev is working on several projects, among which International Cooperation in the Development of Russia’s Far East and Siberia, Russia’s Reorientation to the East and Strategic Implications to East Asia and the World, Balancing Behavior of States under the Conditions of Declining Unipolarity. He received MA in International Relations from Nankai University, Zhou Enlai School of Government (2009), and PhD in Political Science from the Chinese University of Hong Kong (2012). He has been a visiting researcher at the Political Science Department of Brown University (2011-2012). He has recently published an edited volume International Cooperation in the Development of Russia’s Far East and Siberia (Palgrave, 2015), and multiple journal articles in Russian, Chinese, and English, including such journals as International Studies Review, Pacific Affairs, Critical Review, Studies in Comparative International Development.