viii Preface provides many benefits to Russia and the PRC. It was thought that Mos- cow’s and Beijing’s centuries-long history of conflict and distrust as well as Russia’s and China’s strong capacity to defend against external military threats presented additional barriers. Until recently, the concept of “trian- gular diplomacy” has been out of fashion in Washington. Whereas Russian and Chinese writers have regularly employed a triangular framework in their discourse on great power politics, most U.S. foreign policies have typically addressed each country separately rather than considering their combined weight. For many years after the end of the Cold War, U.S. national security decision makers rarely considered how U.S. dealings with Moscow or Bei- jing would affect the Sino-Russian alignment, let alone what tactics Wash- ington could use to shape the relationship. In contrast, Russian and Chinese policies have striven to exploit U.S. tensions with the other state. Prudence warrants more consideration of the effects an enduring Sino-Russian align- ment could have on the United States. Not only do strong Russian-Chinese ties look likely to persist for years, and they could plausibly broaden and deepen this alignment in the future, but Russia and China have also already experienced an impressive geopolitical resurgence since the Cold War. U.S. policy makers need to acknowledge and understand how U.S. decisions and other factors impact Sino-Russian ties. At a minimum, U.S. policy makers should make a greater effort to assess how Russian-Chinese collaboration presents a more challenging environment for U.S. foreign policy. Even bet- ter, U.S. leaders could try to redirect the relationship in ways that benefit U.S. interests. Toward that end, this manuscript examines several complemen- tary case studies encompassing geographic and functional issues that are critically important for all three countries. These cases reveal various path- ways, events, and drivers that have most impacted the dynamics shaping the Russia-China relationship. The first part of this book reviews the changing nature of Sino-Russian ties since the Cold War, focusing on their governments’ strengthening con- nections and increasingly anti-American worldviews. The Russian and PRC political systems have become more similar under their current national lead- erships. Since the end of the Cold War, both governments have become more authoritarian under preeminent leaders who dominate national policies. Nei- ther country tries to export its authoritarian ideology as ardently as their Cold War–era predecessors, who adhered to (and fought over) Marxist-Leninist principles. Yet, both governments have become less tolerant of domestic and international opposition. Since becoming Russia’s president in 2000, Vladimir Putin has suppressed the limited political and economic pluralism that arose during the presidency of his weaker predecessor, Boris Yeltsin. The PRC had been moving in a more politically liberal direction in the late 1990s, with previ- ously rigorous controls slightly loosened, while the ruling Chinese Communist
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