Changing Patterns of Sino-Russian Strategic Partnership: Mutual Perceptions and Strategic Debates

By trying to bridge approaches based on the analysis of objective national interests with those focusing on national identities and discourses, this study attempts to offer a new angle for analysing Sino-Russian relations from 2012 to 2018. Developing a conceptual framework based on the National Role Theory (NRT), this thesis analyses official discourses developed by Russia and China between 2012 and 2018 in order to (1) identify assumed roles and corresponding mutual expectations displayed by Russia and China in official discourses (2) identify gaps between roles and mutual expectations (3) address the mechanisms used by Russia and China to bridge the gaps between the assumed roles and mutual expectations. 

The results of the study suggest that Russia and China adjust their role-taking and form mutual expectations in close relation to a given context. Thus, this study distinguishes between global, regional, and bilateral levels of interaction, introducing the analysis of cooperation in Central Asia as a case to access the regional level. The convergence of roles at the global level is an essential factor in the formation of a Sino-Russian approach to the debate over the global governance system. At the same time, this study identifies some gaps between assumed roles and expectations at the regional and at the bilateral levels. The gaps at the regional level are attributed to attempts by Russia and China to locate roles of civilisational powers and suppliers of shared norms to promote regional integration. At the bilateral level, the study identifies gaps between the roles assumed in the official discourses and expectations exhibited by bureaucracies, businesses, and the general public. One of the most effective strategies used by Russia and China to bridge these gaps is to promote intensive communication about perceptions and interests which allows them to internalise roles assumed by the other and construct shared meanings. Moreover, strategies at the bilateral level to bridge gaps include the promotion of mutual learning and the accumulation of knowledge about each other.


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