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Realpolitik Dynamics and Image Construction in the Russia-China Relationship: Forging a Strategic Partnership?


  • Maria Freire


  • Carmen Mendes



Russia and China are two big players in the international system, both of which share interests and concerns and compete for preponderance and affirmation at the regional level. As a framework for political-military cooperation, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) frames this relationship in an institutional setting that might be understood as a tool for rapprochement between Moscow and Beijing or as a strategic manoeuvre for balancing an unbalanced international order. Thus the following question arises: is Russian-Chinese cooperation discourse mere political rhetoric or does it imply the intentional forging of a goal-orientated partnership? The relationship between Russia and China in political and security terms reveals identifiable common concerns, such as counter-terrorism or the fight against organised crime, while simultaneously masking the underpinning drivers, based on realpolitik dynamics and image construction on both sides (power projection, regional affirmation). This means that the strategic partnership dialogue between Moscow and Beijing is still far from being real. Realpolitik considerations rise above institutional goals, showing the lines of (dis)continuity in discourse and practice in this bilateral relationship.

Suggested Citation

  • Maria Freire & Carmen Mendes, 2009. "Realpolitik Dynamics and Image Construction in the Russia-China Relationship: Forging a Strategic Partnership?," Journal of Current Chinese Affairs - China aktuell, Institute of Asian Studies, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies, Hamburg, vol. 38(2), pages 27-52.
  • Handle: RePEc:gig:chaktu:v:38:y:2009:i:2:p:27-52

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. James K. Galbraith & Ludmila Krytynskaia & Qifei Wang, 2004. "The Experience of Rising Inequality in Russia and China during the Transition," European Journal of Comparative Economics, Cattaneo University (LIUC), vol. 1(1), pages 87-106, June.
    2. Yue Ma & Huayu Sun, 2007. "Hot Money Inflows and Renminbi Revaluation Pressure," Journal of Chinese Economic and Business Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 5(1), pages 19-36.
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