Russia-China Partnership in the Context of US-China Rivalry: Search of Starting Point and Assessment of Prospects

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2023-67-11-24-34
Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO University), 76, Vernadskogo Prosp., Moscow, 119454, Russian Federation.

Received 23.06.2023. Revised 27.07.2023. Accepted 16.08.2023.

Abstract. The article is dedicated to the analysis of Russia-China strategic partnership in the context of decoupling and rivalry of USA and China. The author revises popular amongst Western experts idea that Russia-China contingence started after decline in relations between Russia and the West in the XXI century. Instead, the author argues that Russia (Soviet Union) –China partnership is a result of long-term and systematic contingence that started in the 1980s. Trigger for that was US-China Rapprochement in the 1970s – a process, which took Soviet leadership over a rough road at the final stage of the cold war and stimulated it to the search of normalization of relations with China, its neighbor with a vast land border. However, later Russia-China relations had been developing regardless of the American factor – a fact that proves mutual interest of both Russia and China in cooperation. Russia-China relations level reached its peak in the period when both Russia and China benefited from relations with the USA and so-called “Global West”, so it can not be concluded that their partnership is the result of worsening relations with the West only. Nevertheless, it’s obvious that currently geopolitical and sanctions pressure of the USA towards both Russia and China brings them even closer to each other but it is still not the prime cause of Russia-China partnership. Assessing the prospects of Russia-China partnership one should take into the consideration that even in the case of the US-China new rapprochement Russia and China would continue to be the key economic partners for each other (especially in the context of energy trade, technology transfer and cargo transportation via Eurasia and Northern Sea Route) so that their partnership would develop regardless of situational changes in their relations with the West.

Keywords: Russia, China, USA, cold war, reforms


1. Griffith W.E., ed. The World and the Great-Power Triangles. Cambridge (ass.), MIT Press, 1975. 469 p.

2. Rozman G. Strategic Triangles Reshaping International Relations in East Asia. London and New York, Routledge, 2022. 139 p. DOI: 10.4324/9781003296256

3. Foi H., Shepherd C. Russia strengthens China ties in defiance of bellicose Trump. The Financial Times, 05.06.2019. Available at: (accessed 01.06.2023).

4. Zhao Suisheng. The Dragon Roars Back: Transformational Leaders and Dynamics of Chinese Foreign Policy. Stanford, Stanford University Press, 2023. 358 p.

5. Jochhelm U. China-Russia relations: A quantum leap? European Parliament Briefing, May 2023. Available at: (accessed 01.06.2023).

6. Maizland L. China and Russia: Exploring ties between two authoritarian powers. Council on Foreign Relations, 14.07.2023. Available at: (accessed 01.06.2023).

7. Tyson A. United Front: Understanding China and Russia’s Deepening Alliance. The Christian Science Monitor, 20.09.2022. Available at: (accessed 01.06.2023).

8. Wright R. Russia and China Unveil a Pact Against America and the West. The New Yorker, 07.02.2022. Available at: (accessed 01.06.2023).

9. Lukin A.V. Rising China and the Future of Russia (Papers on China and Russia-China Relations). Moscow, International Relations Publishing House, 2018. 792 p. (In Russ.)

10. Vinogradov A.O., Isaev A.S., eds. Russia–China: Chances and Challenges of “New Era” Relations. Moscow, IFES RAS, 2020. 240 p. (In Russ.)

11. Kashin V.B. Russia, China and Ukrainian Crisis. Russia in Global Policy, 2022, 2, pp. 204-212. (In Russ.) DOI: 10.31278/1810-6439-2022-20-2-204-212 

12. Torkunov A.V., Streltsov D.V. Russian pivot to the East: problems and risks. World Economy and International Relations, 2023, vol. 67, no. 4, pp. 5-16. (In Russ.) Available at: 

13. Akimov V.I., Potapov V.I. Results of “lost decade” and modern economic situation in China. Far Eastern Affairs, 1979, 1, pp. 58-76. (In Russ.)

14. Gudoshnikov L.M., Feoktistov V.F. About 11th CPC CC 3rd Plenary Session. Far Eastern Affairs, 1979, 1, pp. 130-140. (In Russ.)

15. Vorobyova T.A., Yungblyud V.F. Relations within “triangle” USA–USSR–PRC at the end of “détente” period (1977–1980). Bulletin of MGIMO University, 2019, no. 1, pp. 59-82. (In Russ.) Available at: 

16. Savchenko A.E., Zuenko I.Yu. Driving forces of Russia “Pivot to the East”. Comparative Politics, 2020, no. 1, pp. 111-125. (In Russ.) DOI: 10.24411/2221-3279-2020-10009

17. Denisov A.I. Russia and China: good neighbors and close partners (noted by diplomat). Russian Sinology, 2022, no. 1, pp. 190-194. (In Russ.) Available at: (accessed 16.06.2023).

18. Zhou Xiaopei. “Ottepel” in Soviet-Chinese relations: how it was. Rossiyskaya Gazeta, 30.05.2019. (In Russ.) Available at: (accessed 01.06.2023).

19. Vnukov K.V. Fragments of normalization of Soviet-Chinese relations. Rossiyskaya Gazeta, 30.05.2019. (In Russ.) Available at: (accessed 01.06.2023).

20. Ivanov S.A. Participation of Heilongjiang Officials in Russia-China Economic Cooperation (1979–2009): PhD thesis. Vladivostok, 2014. 277 p. (In Russ.)

21. Smirnov A.G. At the Border. History of Pogranichnyi District. Vladivostok, Russian Island Publishing Hause, 2005. 336 p. (In Russ.)

22. Swanson A. American presidents have a long history of walking back tough talk on China. The Washington Post, 06.12.2016. Available at: (accessed 01.06.2023).

23. Skidmore D., Gates W. After Tiananmen: The Struggle over U.S. Policy toward China in the Bush Administration. The Presidential Quarterly, 1997, no. 3, pp. 514-539.

24. Zuenko I.Yu. Chinese reaction and interpretation of 1991 events in the Soviet Union. Journal of International Analytics, 2021, no. 1, pp. 96-111. (In Russ.) Available at: 

25. Denisov I.E., Zuenko I.Yu. New approaches of Beijing to the historiography of People’s Republic of China and Communist Party of China: “Rectification of Names” during Xi Jinping Era. Orientalistica, 2022, vol. 5, no. 4, pp. 734-750. (In Russ.) Available at:


1. Questions and answers of Minister of foreign affairs Qin Gang at the press-conference about China’s foreign policy and international relations. PRC MFA, 08.03.2023. (In Russ.) Available at: (accessed 01.06.2023).

2. Article of Vladimir Putin in People’s Daily “Russia and China – partnership oriented to the future”. President of Russia, 19.03.2023. (In Russ.) Available at: (accessed 01.06.2023).

3. Brezhnev L.I. By Lenin’s Course. Vol. 9. Speeches, Articles, Memoirs: March, 1981 – June, 1982. Moscow, Politizdat, 1982. 606 p. (In Russ.)

4. Perestroika annot Wait, It Matters Everybody and Everything. Materials about the Trip of M.S. Gorbachev to the Far East, July 25–31, 1986. Moscow, 1986. 95 p. (In Russ.)

5. In PSU CC Politburo… Following notes of A. Chernyaev, V. Medvedev, G. Shakhnazarov (1985–1991). Moscow, Alpina Buisiness Book, 2006. 800 p. (In Russ.)

6. State Archive of Primorsky Krai. F. P‑68, op. 117, d. 555. (In Russ.)

7. Heilongjiang Yearbook 1989. Harbin, Heilongjiang People’s Publishing Hause, 1989. 605 p. (In Chin.)

8. The treaty of good-neighborliness and friendly cooperation between the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation. President of Russia, 30.07.2001. (In Russ.) Available at: (accessed 01.06.2023).

9. Studying Thought of Xi Jinping. Ten years ago, president Xi in Russia declared idea for a first time, what deep sense does it have. People’s Daily, 21.03.2023. (In Chin.) Available at: (accessed 01.06.2023)

10. Full text of the report to the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. Central People’s Government of PRC, 26.10.2022. (In Chin.) Available at: (accessed 01.06.2023).

For citation:
Zuenko I. Russia-China Partnership in the Context of US-China Rivalry: Search of Starting Point and Assessment of Prospects. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2023, vol. 67, no. 11, pp. 24-34. EDN: AJUXRX

Comments (0)

No comments

Add comment






Dear authors! Please note that in the VAK List of peer-reviewed scientific journals, in which the main scientific results of dissertations for the degree of candidate and doctor of sciences should be published for the “MEMO Journal” the following specialties are recorded:
economic sciences:
5.2.5. World Economy.
5.2.1. Economic Theory
5.2.3. Regional and Branch Economics
political sciences:
5.5.4. International Relations
5.5.1. History and Theory of Politics
5.5.2. Political Institutions, Processes, Technologies


Current Issue
2024, vol. 68, No. 5
Topical Themes of the Issue:
  • Are There Any Ways to Break Through the Korean Nuclear Impasse?
  • Contemporary U.S. Taiwan Policy: Balancing on the Edge
  • The Gulf Monarchies’ Vision of the Global Order Transformations and the Russian Place in It
  • At Post-Soviet Space
Submit an Article
The Editorial Board invites authors to write analytical articles on the following topics:
  • changes in the processes of globalization in modern conditions
  • formation of the new world order
  • shifts in civilization at the stage of transition to a digital society

The editors are also interested in publishing synthesis articles / scientific reviews revealing the main trends in the development of certain regions of the world - Latin America, Africa, South Asia, etc.