Posing problems without shacking up: Prospects for a Sino-Russian alliance and implications for Asia-Pacific security

Event details

Bell School Seminar

Date & time

Wednesday 02 December 2020


Online Zoom event


Oriana Skylar Mastro


Bell School Marketing Team

Is China forming a balancing coalition against the United States, in particular with Russia? The most recent scholarship does not address China’s balancing strategy because it focuses on explaining secondary states’ response to China’s rise. Work in the realist tradition does predict China will ally with other nations but does not provide insights into security behaviour short of alliances, which more accurately characterizes Beijing’s strategy to date.

In this seminar, Mastro presents a theoretically and empirically informed way of measuring alignment degree and scope, which uses metrics relevant to understanding alignment between great powers. Evaluating the China-Russia relationship within this framework, she argues that their alignment is narrow in scope, but deep – though the latter is reflected more in terms of mutual enhancement of military capabilities than direct coordination of security policies. While the Sino-Russian relationship is unlikely to become a formal mutual defence alliance, China is pursuing a limited subset of alignment activities with Russia that would impact Asia-Pacific security through its effects on U.S. military operations in critical contingencies. This research has implications for the stability of unipolarity, alliance politics, and balancing theory more broadly.

Oriana Skylar Mastro is a Center Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University, a Foreign and Defense Policy Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and an inaugural Wilson Center China Fellow. She is an international security specialist, with research focusing on Chinese military and security policy, war termination, and coercive diplomacy.

Her book, The Cost of Conversation: Obstacles to Peace Talks in Wartime, was published by Cornell University Press in 2019, and awarded one of the 2020 International Security Section of the American Political Science Association Best Book prizes. She continues to serve in the United States Air Force Reserve, for which she works as a strategic planner at INDOPACOM.

Dr. Mastro holds a B.A. in East Asian Studies from Stanford University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Politics from Princeton University.

Wednesday 2 December from 11:00AM - 12:30PM AEDT
Tuesday 1 December from 7:00PM - 8:30PM EST

This webinar will be recorded and is the second of the new Women in Asia-Pacific Security Research Seminar Series 2020-1, jointly supported by the Graduate Research & Development Network for Asian Security (GRADNAS) and the ANU Gender Institute.

This seminar series showcases the cutting-edge academic research of women in the fields of Asia-Pacific security broadly-defined, and serves as an international platform for strengthening academic exchange, feedback, and mentorship.

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