China-Russia Relations in Times of Crises: A Neoclassical Realist Explanation
Asian Perspective, Vol. 42, No. 3 (July-September 2018), pp. 411-437
25 Pages Posted: 15 Aug 2018
Date Written: July 31, 2018
Although not formal allies, China and Russia have steadily increased their strategic cooperation. However, crises and tensions in each other’s areas of strategic interest continue to complicate each country’s relations with each other and the rest of the international community. This paper explores China’s reaction toward major crises in the post-Soviet space (the Caucasus Crisis of 2008 and the Ukraine Crisis of 2014) and Russia’s responses to the South China Sea dispute and shows that they share many similarities. To explain the reaction patterns and better understand the nature of contemporary China-Russia relations, this paper applies a neoclassical realist framework, which helps assess the impact of both system-level and unit-level factors on great powers’ behavior. The assessment demonstrates that the observed behavior pattern is an outcome of causal forces of different levels simultaneously pushing in different directions.
Keywords: China-Russia Relations, Neoclassical Realism, Caucasus Crisis, Ukraine Crisis, South China Sea Dispute
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