In search of the ‘Other’ in Asia: Russia–China relations revisited

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This paper argues that Russia and China are partners of consequence and that the neglect of the normative dimension of the Sino-Russian relationship has led its impact on global governance to be undervalued and misunderstood. Following a constructivist approach, the paper examines the shared norms underlying an ever closer Sino-Russian partnership, despite divergent interests in a number of areas. A first section examines how shared norms lead Russia and China to define their identity similarly, facilitate joint actions, and constrain their individual policy choices. For Russia, elaborating its own unique identity is crucial to its claim to global status, though complicated by interactions with multiple ‘Others.’ Russia's effort to engage Asian partners is often viewed as hedging against China, but as second section argues that Russian engagement in Asia is better understood in terms of Russia's effort to define an Asian identity. A third section highlights the securitization/desecuritization dynamic in Sino-Russian economic relations. Xi Jinping's efforts to redefine China's global role reinforces its tendency to desecuritize the vulnerabilities that lead China to seek economic cooperation with Russia. Russia, fearing becoming a ‘resource appendage’ of China, then securitizes economic relations with China.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)114-132
Number of pages19
JournalPacific Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2 Jan 2017


  • Asia
  • Sino-Russian relations
  • hedging
  • identity
  • securitization
  • self-other


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