Russia’s Image of China and Russian-Chinese Relations

Alexander Lukin
Alexander Lukin Director, Center for East Asian and SCO Studies, Moscow State Institute of International Relations

May 1, 2001

Discussion and debate about Russian-Chinese relations is on the rise and attracts the attention of experts and policy-makers around the world. From the Russian perspective, the importance of developing relations with its neighbor is determined by several considerations: shared interests and concerns about the international situation, the need to secure a peaceful international environment for economic development, worries about the future of the Russian Far East, and advantages from trade and economic cooperation with the fastest growing Asian economy. Russian approaches to China differ among various groups, political trends and individual experts; moreover, they exist not in a vacuum, but within the framework of more general perceptions of the international situation and Russia’s position therein. Based on these perceptions, it can be expected that Russia will develop closer relations with China for the foreseeable future. However, since the official Russian attitude toward China strongly depends on Russia’s relations with the West, especially with the United States, US policy towards Russia and China will significantly influence the future Russian-Chinese partnership.

The remainder of this paper is organized into four sections: current Russian approaches towards relations with China; Russian images of China and the prospects for Russian-Chinese relations in the 21st Century; the motives behind Russian-Chinese rapprochement; and the impact of US policies on Russia-China relations.