Special Forum

Four schools of thought can be detected in Chinese publications on Sino-Russian relations and the Sino-Russian-US triangle. One school is to double-down on the “quasi-alliance” versus the shared threat of the United States. A second is to seize the opportunity of Russia’s weakness in the triangle, especially its economic troubles, to press for economic integration as part of “One Belt, One Road” (BRI), collapsing the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) into “One Belt, One Union” (OBOU). A third school is to show sensitivity to Russian thinking, not siding fully with it in its confrontation with the US or pressuring it while reminding it of lines it should not cross. Finally, there is a fourth school that downplays the geopolitical competition and recognizes the weakness of Russia as a triangular force, while calling for a “win-win” approach to the triangle. The relative influence of these schools is difficult to ascertain; much depends on Sino-US ties. In the third and fourth schools we find evidence of academic pragmatism, which has experienced some revival of late but may not carry much weight in setting long-term strategic objectives.

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