Is China forming a balancing coalition against the United States, in particular with Russia? The most recent scholarship does not address China’s balancing strategy because it focuses on explaining secondary states’ response to China’s rise. Work in the realist tradition does predict China will ally with other nations but does not provide insights into security behaviour short of alliances, which more accurately characterizes Beijing’s strategy to date.

Mastro presents a theoretically and empirically informed way of measuring alignment degree and scope, which uses metrics relevant to understanding alignment between great powers. Evaluating the China-Russia relationship within this framework, she argues that their alignment is narrow in scope, but deep – though the latter is reflected more in terms of mutual enhancement of military capabilities than direct coordination of security policies.

While the Sino-Russian relationship is unlikely to become a formal mutual defence alliance, China is pursuing a limited subset of alignment activities with Russia that would impact Asia-Pacific security through its effects on U.S. military operations in critical contingencies. This research has implications for the stability of unipolarity, alliance politics, and balancing theory more broadly.

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Wed, 2 Dec 2020, 11:30am - 12:30pm

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