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Christopher Weidacher Hsiung, PhD Student, Oslo University

Mitigating great power competition - China's reassurance strategy toward Russia in the post-cold war period 

The main research question of this thesis is: how has China responded to its growing capabilities in regards to Russia in the post-cold war period? Since the end of the cold war, China's rise and Russia's relative decline caused growing concerns in Russia over China's increased capabilities and future intentions. The thesis builds on literature that holds that asymmetric power relations in great power relations can exacerbate security dilemma dynamics and that such developments often lead to great power conflict. 

The main argument of the thesis is that China's post-cold war Russia policy, however, was characterized by an overall reassurance strategy. This was conditioned on Chinese leaders' awareness of Russian concerns over China's rise which led to strategy of reassurance to mitigate the potential for bilateral security dilemma dynamics with Russia (something referred to as security dilemma sensibility). Specifically, China's reassurance strategy consisted of three main elements: restraint, commitment and inclusiveness. The thesis shows how these elements where evident in China's polices towards Russia in regards to border and military issues, and on economic and diplomatic issues, thus constituting an overall strategy of reassurance toward Russia.