The Impact of the Russian-Georgian War on Sino-Russian Relations: A Longitudinal Analysis




Turner, Susan C.

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Upon scrutinizing current Sino-Russian relations, one uncovers a carefully constructed partnership hinged upon strategic points of collaboration and laden with areas of contention. The Russian-Georgian War in August 2008 and China‘s decision not to endorse Russia‘s actions demonstrated to the world that despite the two countries‘ partnership China and Russia differ dramatically in the kind of power they use to situate themselves on the world stage. Consequently, some scholars have already placed the Russian-Georgian War among a long list of situations that exemplify the stagnation of the Sino-Russian friendship. This paper counters these assumptions by examining China‘s extended discourse on Russia after the war in order to assess the true impact of the war on Sino-Russian relations. Since the Russian-Georgian War challenged some of the very principles of the Sino-Russian friendship (as codified in the 2001 Sino-Russian Friendship Treaty and the SCO Establishment Charter), it is seemingly logical to think that it would cause a rift in China and Russia‘s relations. My research, however, has shown the opposite to be true. Rather than disagreeing with Russia‘s display of hard power against Georgia and its tough stance toward America, China repeatedly chose in its domestic media to support Russia‘s aggressive actions and attitude. This expression of support was not limited to articles about the Russian-Georgian War, but also appeared in China‘s discourse on different issues, indicating that China has rethought its position as a neutral party in the relations between the United States and Russia.



China, Georgia, Russia, South Ossetia, Abkhazia