In This Review

The Sino-Russian Challenge to the World Order: National Identities, Bilateral Relations, and East versus West in the 2010s
The Sino-Russian Challenge to the World Order: National Identities, Bilateral Relations, and East versus West in the 2010s
By Gilbert Rozman
Stanford University Press, 2014, 264 pp
Purchase

Notwithstanding the many issues on which China and Russia agree these days, conventional wisdom holds that a real alliance between the two powers is not in the cards. The growing gap in power, the historical sources of enmity, and the cultural divide make it impossible, the thinking goes. But those assumptions ought to be reconsidered. The evolving, multidimensional nature of national identity under Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin, Rozman argues, is bringing the two countries together in profound ways. Both regimes have tapped into deep historical and cultural sensitivities, fashioned updated versions of authoritarianism that celebrate the state, proclaimed a sense of alienation from Western values, and engaged in the “demonization of the United States.” Rozman recognizes that Chinese and Russians leaders might overreach and that events might send their currently parallel quests for identity onto disparate paths. But he doubts that the core similarities, including the residual influence of communism, will soon fade, and he suspects that stronger ties between Beijing and Moscow will pose a challenge to the West’s preferred world order.