The PRCs Approach Towards the South China Sea Territorial Dispute and Russias Foreign Policy

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2021-65-2-5-15
A. Dikarev (, 
Moscow State Institute of International Relations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation (MGIMO University), 76, Vernadskogo Prosp., Moscow, 119454, Russian Federation;
Moscow State Institute of International Relations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation (MGIMO University), 76, Vernadskogo Prosp., Moscow, 119454, Russian Federation,
National Research University Higher School of Economics, 11 Pokrovskii Blvrd, Moscow, 109028, Russian Federation

Acknowledgements. This article was funded by MGIMO University, project number 1921-01-02.

Abstract. Territorial dispute in the South China Sea (SCS) which involves China and several ASEAN member-states has recently become one of the major threats to international security in Southeast Asia leading to continuous political tensions in the region. It may result not only in a split within ASEAN but also in drawing the non-regional powers into conflict. U.S.A. as the most important of such powers tries to use the existing tensions for strengthening its influence in the region and its stance in confrontation with China. While Moscow has recently made efforts to intensify its presence in Asia, it still does not see the South China Sea region as a foreign policy priority. Generally, it sticks to neutrality on the issue of sovereignty over the disputed islands. At the same time, Russia’s approach to the SCS problem can be characterised by a limited shift towards strengthening support of Beijing’s position. Acting this way Russia wishes to support a strategic partner in order to win its stronger cooperation on other vital issues, such as the problem of Crimea or the US sanctions. This rapprochement should be understood against the background of general international situation characterised by the growing Sino-US confrontation, worsening of relations between Russia and the West, as well as some tendencies in the Asia-Pacific such as the emergence of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue and the introduction of the concept of the “Indo-Pacific” by Washington and its allies which are seen in both Moscow and Beijing as hostile. Despite the numerous political difficulties and legal problems concerning the SCS, the mutual understanding between Russia and China during the last two decades has been strengthening while both countries were confronted by similar threats and challenges. This naturally pushes the positions of Russia and China closer to each other. 

Keywords: Russia, China, strategic partnership, South China Sea, territorial dispute, international arbitrage


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For citation:
Dikarev A., Lukin A. The PRCs Approach Towards the South China Sea Territorial Dispute and Russias Foreign Policy. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2021, vol. 65, no. 2, pp. 5-15.

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