Russia and China between Cooperation and Competition at the Regional and Global Level. Introduction
The steady intensification of Sino-Russian cooperation over the past few years has triggered a surge in scholarly interest. However, in light of the far-reaching geopolitical implications of the Sino-Russian rapprochement, most studies of Sino-Russian dynamics are not only conducted from the disciplinary perspective of International Relations (IR), but also continue to be embedded in realist assumptions and power-political perspectives. This special issue seeks to advance the scholarly knowledge on the Sino-Russian relationship by making the case for expanding the scope of analysis theoretically, disciplinarily and empirically. This introductory article first sets the context by providing a historical overview of key developments in Sino-Russian relations. Following an in-depth review of the IR-dominated literature, it then substantiates the claim that there is a need to broaden the scope of analysis in order to move beyond the IR realist perspective that predominates the literature on the Sino-Russian relationship. Together, the articles in the special issue add new insights to the literature by analyzing the depth of the relationship; scrutinizing Russian discourses on China, in both historical and contemporary contexts; exploring the limitations and dilemmas of the relationship; and paying specific attention to the agency of the countries “in-between”, from Central Asia to Mongolia.