Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Visiting Scholar Roundtable with Gao Fei

China, the United States, and Russia's Triangle Relationship in the Post-Cold War Era

Tuesday, February 8, 2011
3:00 - 4:00 PM
The Chung-wen Shih Conference Room
1957 E Street, NW, Suite 503

Dr. Gao Fei: Fulbright Scholar and Associate Professor, China Foreign Affairs University

This afternoon the Sigur Center hosted its second Visiting Scholar Roundtable of the semester. The roundtables are designed as a way for our visiting scholars to present their research in an informal and relaxed environment, while receiving valuable input from students and faculty interested in Asian Affairs. The Series will continue on March 22 with Yufang Fan and April 5 with Masaki Hirata.

Gao Fei outlined three major changes in the triangle relationship between China, the US, and Russia since the Cold War: 1) The countries' relationships are unbalanced and asymmetrical, 2) The triangle relationship no longer has strategic global implications, but is still important in certain “problem areas,” 3) The relationships have become “Non-confrontational” and “Non – alliance.” These changes highlight the fact that the triangle relationship between China, the US, and Russia is no-longer a central framework for international relations but still provides a good method for analyzing the relationships between these three countries.

Gao Fei defined several layers of the triangle relationship, emphasizing that each layer sheds light on a different aspect of the triangle relationship. For example, he argues that economic relations are largely bi-lateral. This is clear in the cases of US – China trade, and the Russia-China Oil Pipeline. In terms of military, Gao Fei believes that the US and Russia are still stronger than China. China’s military expenditure is 10 times what it was 20 years ago, but the country’s GDP has grown at almost the same rate, so the percentage of military spending has actually remained static. Finally, in terms of politics, Gao Fei views the US as the only current super power. He believes that Russia is still recovering and China is still rising, therefore the US often has more responsibility in the political sphere.

Sino-Russia relations have gradually become friendlier with the passing of several agreements since 1992. Sino-US relations are largely interdependent, causing both sides to expect long term stable relations even though they still lack mutual trust. Gao Fei described President Hu’s visit to the US and President Obama’s visit to Moscow as “resetting” relations – the leaders have addressed their problems and agreed to continue working. With confidence, Gao Fei expressed his belief that there are no problems within the China, US, Russia triangle that cannot be overcome.

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