Conference Co-ordinator
Timo Hellenberg
phone +358-(0)44 505 0161
fax +358-(0)9-191 23615

Conference Secretary
Anna Salonsalmi
phone +358 9-191 24175 or
+358-(0)50-356 5802
fax +358-(0)9-191 23615
anna.salonsalmi [at]

Conference Intern
Ida Nummelin
phone +358 9-191 23659 or
+358-(0)50-300 3975
fax +358-(0)9-191 23615
ida.nummelin [at]

Concerence e-mail:
fcree-aleksconf [at]



The Aleksanteri Institute

Unioninkatu 33 (P.O. Box 42)
00014 University of Helsinki
phone +358-(0)9-191 23642
fax +358-(0)9-191 23615

aleksanteri [at]


Past Aleksanteri Conferences

The Dragon and the Bear: Strategic Choices of China and Russia

9th-11th November 2011

Over the past two decades, Russia and China have both experienced extensive socio-economic and political transformation, as well as foreign policy reorientation. Within the framework of “transition studies”, these developments have naturally been a rather popular subject of academic study and applied research. However, only a few scholars have studied the post-Cold War developments in Russia and China in comparative perspective. The 11th Aleksanteri Conference compares Russia´s and China´s transformation from three interrelated perspectives: socio-economic system, political system, and international system.

The outcomes of the Chinese and Russian reforms differ considerably. From a social and economic impact perspective, the “Chinese way” has undoubtedly been a great success. For almost three decades now, the averaged annual growth rates of the Chinese GDP and industrial added value have been about 10%, far higher than the world average. Over the same period, the annual net income per capita, calculated at comparable prices, has increased more than five times both in urban and rural areas.

In sharp contrast, Russia’s economic development after the collapse of the Soviet Union was characterised by a sudden decrease of GDP and industrial output, followed by major problems throughout the 1990s, leading to the crash in 1998. This development naturally resulted in major negative social consequences. Only since 1999, mainly due to the 1998 devaluation effect and extremely high energy prices, Russian economy has been on a growth track and, even hit hard by the financial crisis in 2008, is expected to grow also in the nearest future.

Why have Russia and China chosen such different paths for their post-Cold War transitions? How do their strategies differ, how do these resemble each other and are they interrelated? When – at what junctures – were the crucial choices made? And what are the strategic choices yet to be made by Russia and China? What are the alternatives, how are they constructed, and what are the internal and external settings that constrain the choices between different policy lines?

The thesis that the economic development of large countries can produce major power shifts in international politics is widespread and generally accepted. There are many speculations that suggest that China, after it has become the most important regional economic and military power in East Asia, will ultimately become the strongest great power in the world. By contrast, much of the literature on Russia points out that the country with its rather modest economic power (despite its energy resources) is doomed to be a declining great power. However, while Russia’s military capacity cannot be compared to that of the Soviet Union, it still remains a major military (nuclear) power by any yardstick and can at least play a crucial role regionally.

The rapprochement of Russia and China is one of the most significant post-Cold War developments in international relations. In 2001, the close relations between the two countries were formalised with the Treaty of Good-Neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation, a twenty-year strategic, economic, and controversially, an implicit military treaty. A month prior to that, the two countries joined in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, which is an intergovernmental mutual-security organisation. In addition to China and Russia, its members are Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. The SCO focuses on tackling the main threats it confronts such as being terrorism, separatism, and extremism. Most recently, socio-economic aspects have been added to its agenda.

In August 2010, Russia opened its section of a 1,000km oil pipeline from eastern Siberia to China. The pipe connects Russian oil fields with Daqing, a major oil production base in northeastern China. Both sides hailed the move as a "new era" in co-operation and have stated that this is only a beginning of a new chapter in their bilateral relations. As yet however, economic integration between the countries remains rather moderate.

In order to address these fundamental developments in global economy and politics, the Aleksanteri Institute will host the 11th Aleksanteri Conference on 9-11th November 2011 at the University of Helsinki, Finland.

The paper proposals may be oriented towards either Chinese or Russian questions, as well as comparative approaches.


The conference will emphasize a multidisciplinary and comparative approach and bring forth new interpretations on the different strategic choices of the two giants and their mutual relations.

Hence, conference participation is open to a broad array of international scholars from the political and social sciences, economics, the law, and the arts and humanities. Additionally, due to the obvious economic and policy relevancy of the topic, representatives of the public and private sectors are also invited to contribute in the panels and roundtable discussions.


  • HISTORY AND CHANGE: converging and diverging models of communism and transition
  • INTERNATIONAL FRAMEWORK: Cold War legacy, spheres of influence, integration, bilateral relations
  • ECONOMY: transformation models, FDIs, legal framework, state ownership and the entrepreneurial environment
  • DEMOCRACY: aspects of authoritarianism and democracy, institutions, elites, practices of governance
  • SOCIAL BALANCE: socio-economic and welfare development
  • CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE SECURITY: national crisis management systems and their implications to regional security balance

Keynote Speakers

Conference Opening: Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland, Dr. Erkki Tuomioja
Prof. Chunling Li, Institute of Sociology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
East Asia Programme Director Linda Jakobson, Lowy Institute for International Policy, Sydney
Dr., Chief Research Fellow Alexander V. Lomanov, Institute of Far Eastern Studies, Russian Academy of Science
Prof. Minxin Pei, Claremont McKenna College, California
Conference Closing: Dr., Docent Christer Pursiainen, University of Helsinki

Conference Schedule and Deadlines

  • Proposals for panels (approx. 500 words): June 15th, 2011 (submission closed)
  • Abstracts for individual papers (approx. 300 words): June 15th, 2011 (submission closed)
  • Notification of Acceptance: June 30th, 2011 (the notification of acceptance was sent on 22 June)
  • Publication of the conference programme: September 2011
  • Deadline for updating abstracts: October 21st 2011
  • Deadline for speaker registration: October 21st 2011
  • Deadline for sending conference papers: November 1st 2011
  • Conference: 9-11th, November 2011

Please submit your abstract and contact information through the abstract submission form or panel proposal submission form. For further assistance or more details, please see Practical Information or contact the Conference Coordinators at fcree-aleksconf [at]

The Aleksanteri Conference is an annual, multidisciplinary, international conference organised by the Aleksanteri Institute, the Finnish Centre for Russian and Eastern European Studies, affiliated with the University of Helsinki. Aleksanteri Conferences have attracted broad interest among researchers and policy-makers in a wide variety of disciplines, both in Finland and abroad, interested in the development of post-socialist countries.