Pillars of the Sino-Russian Partnership

If since the end of the Cold War relations between China and Russia and each of the other great powers have experienced numerous complications, then the development of Sino-Russian relations has, on the contrary, been relatively smooth.1 As early as December 1992, the two governments announced that they were officially “friendly” and began to develop broad bilateral relations. A second stage commenced in September 1994, when China and Russia defined their relations as a “constructive partnership,” promised to give bilateral relations a long-term stable character, and began to seek opportunities to cooperate internationally. A third stage, which continues to the present, began in 1996 with the announcement that Moscow and Beijing would devote themselves to establishing and developing a “strategic partnership.”

The first task of the present paper is to offer a broad-ranging discussion of the content and conduct of Sino-Russian relations, expanding on a previous English-language article dating from 1997,2 and based on official Sino-Russian documents and leadership statements. The second task is to analyze the U.S. factor as it influences Sino-Russian and “triangular” relations. For quite some time observers have doubted whether this triangular relationship, a cliche´ during the latter Cold War, exists today. As the international situation develops and changes, this question seems more and more difficult to dodge.

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