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Axis of Convenience: Moscow, Beijing, and the New Geopolitics.


Bobo Lo

(Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2008), 277 pages.

In Axis of Convenience, Bobo Lo connects contemporary Sino-Russian relations to the history and cultures of the two countries. He describes how Sinophobia, which developed from border tensions as early as the 13th century, continues to plague politics in the Russian Far East. The "yellow peril" is still part of the cultural vernacular in Russia, and the asymmetry of trade relations between the two countries exacerbates fears of a rising China encroaching on Russia's territory. Lo describes how Russia views its energy resources and hegemonic influence in Central Asia as a source of political power to be wielded against the West, potentially in cooperation with China, as they come to depend on Russian resources. China, in turn, sees Russia as only one of several energy suppliers. Beijing does not see Russia as a reliable and capable ally, and has no aspirations to intentionally undermine the West. Russia's "notion of [being] an 'energy superpower' is delusional," Lo writes. Having failed to move much beyond its Cold War worldview, it is likely

to remain an outsider.

Lo argues that good relations with the U.S., EU, and Asian regional powers are more important for Beijing than its relations with Russia. Russia, for its part, prioritizes its relationship with the U.S. and retains its "multivectorial" foreign policy in East Asia by maintaining conflicting negotiations with both Japan and China, while remaining hesitant to commit to either. Such mutual second-best status has produced the fundamentally insecure, "interest-driven partnership" detailed by Lo.

The book's strengths lie in the author's lucid interpretation of the paradoxes and complexities that lurk beneath the lofty promises of strategic solidarity issued by Russian and Chinese leaders. While Lo's analysis of Russia seems more accomplished at times than his analysis of China, he has displayed impressive knowledge and readability for a book of such scope.
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Title Annotation:FURTHER READING
Author:Ingram, Emily
Publication:Journal of International Affairs
Article Type:Book review
Date:Mar 22, 2010
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