Relations between Russia and China have grown stronger in recent years, as the two countries have increased their level of trade and coordination on strategic matters. To understand why this is happening, we need to look at both countries’ interests and their past interactions with each other. “Russia and China: Four Centuries of Interaction” is a monograph that describes in detail the history of relations between them, from their very first contacts to the present day. It’s a history full of contradictions, with periods of rapprochement and tensions. The monograph shows that the foundation of relations between Russia and China is not ideology or friendship based on shared values but converging fundamental national interests.
Each of the seven chapters is devoted either to a different period of relations between the two countries or to a particular issue. The first chapter, “From Balance to Colonialism: Russian-Chinese Relations From Their Inception Until 1917,” covers the period until the collapse of the Russian Empire, when Russia’s approach to China fundamentally changed. The chapter “The Age of Civil War and Revolution,” written by Professor A.A. Pisarev, is dedicated to the ups and downs of Sino-Soviet relations from 1917 to 1949. During this period and for several years after, cooperation between the two countries was stagnant. But by the beginning of the 21st century, they were back on track as relations improved markedly between the neighbors.
Although “Russia and China” is published only in Russian, those interested in the subject matter can find translated works by each of the authors of the different chapters: A.I. Denisov, E.P. Bazhanov, A.V. Lukin, A.V. Ivanov, V.L. Larin, G.N. Romanova, V.G. Datsyshen, A.A. Pisarev and N.A. Samoilov. Their professions range from scientists to diplomats, but all are in some way experts on Russia and China.
Ekaterina Zolotova, analyst