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How the Chinese See Russia

Russie.Nei.Reports, n°6, décembre 2010

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This essay examines Chinese attitudes toward Russia as a great power, neighbor, partner and competitor. China is in the midst of one of the most remarkable transformations in history.  During this dramatic period, the relationship with Russia has remained something of a sideshow. If the recent narrative of bilateral engagement has been largely positive, then Chinese policy-makers and thinkers nevertheless look to the West for their points of reference and sources of modernization. Russia, which once offered an alternative model, now stands as an object lesson in what not to do. To many Chinese, particularly among the younger generation, it has simply become an irrelevance. But for all its well-documented problems, Russia remains a major international actor with the capacity to affect core Chinese interests. The leadership in Beijing understands that national modernization, the building of a stable neighborhood and China’s transformation into a global actor will depend, in some measure at least, on a functional relationship with its largest neighbor. The “Russia factor” in its world-view may have declined, but it has certainly not disappeared.

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