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Russo-Chinese Convergence in Central Asia: Assessing Systemic Change to the World Order

Student: Adam james Kowalski

Supervisor: Maxim Bratersky

Faculty: Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs

Educational Programme: International Relations in Eurasia (Master)

Year of Graduation: 2020

Russia’s dissatisfaction with the current world international system and China’s unmissable authoritarian-based international presence has left Central Asia as the staging ground for both country’s regional order building ambitions. Examined through the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) and the Chinese driven Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), this dissertation aims to determine how the convergence of these two approaches in Central Asia contributes to establishing an alternate order. It analyses how Russia and China use these approaches to build regional influence and cohesion, and what norms, standards and approaches they convey to potentially develop an alternative to the current Western dominated system. Building upon a literature review on the post-Soviet order, Russo-Chinese relations and their approaches to Central Asia through the EEU and BRI, the development of Russia and China’s regional influence is examined through Flockhart’s theory on the emergence of a multi-order system. Based on the English School of International Relations’ definitions of international society and primary and secondary institutions, analysis of the EEU and BRI demonstrates that, to a certain extent, Russia and China do co-opt the Central Asian states into closer relations. However, analysis reveals that while these two approaches to Central Asia establish and fortify Russian and Chinese norms, serving to create the basis for an alternate, Russo-Chinese international society in Central Asia, they are not without their problems. Having established this, further research is needed to examine how these approaches channel the identity and power elements of the English School’s international society, and whether problems such as conflicting Russo-Chinese interests would undermine an alternate international society in the multi-order system.

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