• A
  • A
  • A
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
Regular version of the site
Master 2020/2021

China and Russia: Great Powers in an Era of Global Disorder

Category 'Best Course for Career Development'
Category 'Best Course for Broadening Horizons and Diversity of Knowledge and Skills'
Type: Elective course (Russian Studies)
Area of studies: Political Science
When: 2 year, 1, 2 module
Mode of studies: offline
Master’s programme: Российские исследования
Language: English
ECTS credits: 5
Contact hours: 44

Course Syllabus


The burgeoning Sino-Russian strategic partnership focuses our attention not only on the growing geopolitical importance of their relationship but also to the larger role they play in global politics. China, the most dynamic rising power has been content to work within the existing hegemonic order, while Russia, a declining power, has sought to challenge it. This is surprising and contradicts the expectations of most International Relations (IR) theories, which see rising powers as the most likely challengers. Moreover, an interesting symbiotic relationship has developed between the two. China uses Russia to push back against the aspects of US hegemony it does not like, while avoiding the costs of doing so. As Russia becomes estranged and isolated form the West, it is increasingly forced to rely on China as an alternative source of markets and finance. All this is happening within a larger context where political, economic and technological changes are producing new “global disorder” that is eroding the relevance of traditional great power politics.
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • The course will allow students to develop a broader understanding of Russia and China as 21st century Great Powers, including their prospects for domestic growth and political development, their foreign policies and strategic cultures, as well as the developing Sino-Russian partnership. Particular emphasis will be paid to the impact that the two powers are having on the international order, and on such issues as security, global governance, and democracy and human rights.
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • develop an understanding of the rapidly evolving (and highly volatile) international context in which China and Russia must conduct their foreign policies.
  • demonstrate knowledge of China and Russia’s political and economic transitions from communism and the challenges and opportunities they face in the future.
  • understand the factors that shape Chinese and Russian Foreign policy, including their relationship with one another, as well as their impact on such important issues as international security, global governance, and democracy and human rights.
  • distinguish and evaluate different theoretical and methodological approaches to studying China and Russia and the role they play in international relations.
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • Great Power Politics in an Era of “Global Disorder”
  • America in Decline?
  • China’s Path to Economic Preeminence
  • Russia’s Troubled Political and Economic Transition
  • Comparing Russia and China’s Paths from Communism: Reassessing the Legacy of 1989
  • China’s Foreign Policy: Dangers and Opportunities of a Rising Power
  • Understanding Russian Foreign Policy: Anxieties of Decline
  • China-Russia Relations – “Partnership of Unequals”?
  • China, Russia and Global Security
  • China, Russia and Global Governance
  • China, Russia and Democracy and Human Rights
  • China, Russia and Soft Power
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking Participation and attendance
  • non-blocking Final Exam
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • Interim assessment (2 module)
    0.5 * Final Exam + 0.5 * Participation and attendance


Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Averre, D. (2016). The Ukraine Conflict: Russia’s Challenge to European Security Governance. Europe-Asia Studies, 68(4), 699–725. https://doi.org/10.1080/09668136.2016.1176993
  • AVERRE, D., & DAVIES, L. (2015). Russia, humanitarian intervention and the Responsibility to Protect: the case of Syria. International Affairs, 91(4), 813–834. https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-2346.12343
  • Brooks, S. G., & Wohlforth, W. C. (2015). The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers in the Twenty-first Century. International Security, 40(3), 7–53. https://doi.org/10.1162/ISEC_a_00225
  • Cooley, A. (2015). Countering Democratic Norms. Journal of Democracy, 26(3), 49–63. https://doi.org/10.1353/jod.2015.0049
  • Fish, M. S. (2005). Democracy Derailed in Russia : The Failure of Open Politics. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=148155
  • Goldstein, A. (2013). China’s Real and Present Danger. Foreign Affairs, 92(5), 136.
  • Gregory, P. R. . (DE-588)170148297, (DE-576)161192289. (2009). How China won and Russia lost : two dissimilar economic paths / by Paul R. Gregory and Kate Zhou.
  • Krickovic, A. (2015). “All Politics Is Regional”: Emerging Powers and the Regionalization of Global Governance. Global Governance, 21(4), 557–577. https://doi.org/10.1163/19426720-02104005
  • Krickovic, A. (2017). The Symbiotic China-Russia Partnership: Cautious Riser and Desperate Challenger. Chinese Journal of International Politics, 10(3), 299–329. https://doi.org/10.1093/cjip/pox011
  • Krickovic, A. V. (DE-588)1143039734, (DE-576)494904682, aut. (2018). Russia’s challenge : a declining power’s quest for status / Andrej Krickovic, Higher School of Economics, Moscow ; PONARS Eurasia - New Approaches to Research and Security in Eurasia.
  • Mearsheimer, J. J. (2019). Bound to Fail: The Rise and Fall of the Liberal International Order. International Security, 43(4), 7–50. https://doi.org/10.1162/isec_a_00342
  • Nolan, P. (DE-588)170173089, (DE-627)060221208, (DE-576)164224467, aut. (1995). China’s rise, Russia’s fall politics, economics and planning in the transition from Stalinism Peter Nolan.
  • Peter Rutland. (n.d.). Chapter 3 Post-Socialist States and the Evolution of a New Development Model: Russia and China Compared.
  • Sakwa, R. (DE-588)13407565X, (DE-627)560218737, (DE-576)164471057, aut. (2004). Putin Russia’s choice Richard Sakwa.
  • Shambaugh, D. L. (2013). China Goes Global : The Partial Power. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=nlebk&AN=563818
  • Wilson, J. L. (2015). Russia and China Respond to Soft Power: Interpretation and Readaptation of a Western Construct. Politics, 35(3/4), 287–300. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9256.12095
  • Yan, X. (2014). From Keeping a Low Profile to Striving for Achievement. Chinese Journal of International Politics, 7(2), 153–184. https://doi.org/10.1093/cjip/pou027
  • ZENG, J., & BRESLIN, S. (2016). China’s “new type of Great Power relations”: a G2 with Chinese characteristics? International Affairs, 92(4), 773–794. https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-2346.12656
  • Zhao, S. (2018). A Revisionist Stakeholder: China and the Post-World War II World Order. Journal of Contemporary China, 27(113), 643–658. https://doi.org/10.1080/10670564.2018.1458029

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Krickovic, A. V. (DE-588)1143039734, (DE-627)1002313600, (DE-576)494904682, aut. (2020). Fears of falling short versus anxieties of decline explaining Russia and China’s approach to status-seeking Andrej Krickovic and Zhang Chang.
  • Lo, B. (2015). Russia and the New World Disorder. Brookings Inst. Press/Chatham House.