Research Projects

At the Crossroads

At the Crossroads of Post-Communist Transformation:
The Strategic Choices of Russia and China in Comparative Perspective

Russia and China have experienced extensive social transformation during the past two decades. Still only a few scholars have studied the post-Communist developments in Russia and China in comparative perspective. The project compares Russia’s and China’s transformation from three interrelated perspectives: socio-economic system, political system and international system.

THE FREE-MARKET STATE OR THE WELFARE STATE? Both countries face the challenge of developing a new socio-economic model and a new social contract between the state and society. Will the new model be based on the idea of the “power of the market place”, with perhaps a strong “third sector” taking care of many of the previous responsibilities of the state? Or will a new welfare state be developed on the ruins of the old “socialist welfare state”?

AUTHORITARIANISM OR DEMOCRACY? The main issue concerning both countries’ political system is the choice between authoritarianism and democracy. Russia has undergone a major political transformation and established formally democratic political institutions, however still characterised by the legacy of the old system and the emergence of some new authoritarian trends. China has experienced some small-scale local-level democratisation, but the crucial issue is whether the country decides to choose further democratisation and in what form?

SOVEREIGNTY OR INTERDEPENDENCE? Russia’s international position can be characterised as that of a declining great power. China’s relative great power ranking is rapidly rising. This state of affairs leads them to search their place and role in the evolving new structure of international politics. Will China’s and Russia’s international strategies be based on defending autonomy and sovereignty, or will they decide to participate in, or are drawn to, developments which institutionalise growing interdependence and norm-based cooperation between them and the outside world.

The project output will include one edited book; a dozen peer reviewed articles; and four seminars.


Contact person: Christer Pursiainen, Dr. Pol.Sc., christer.pursiainen [at]
Duration: 01.01.2008-31.12.2011
Researchers: Linda Jakobson, Senior Researcher, Director of the China Programme of the Finnish Institute of International Affairs,
Markku Kivinen, Professor, Director of the Aleksanteri Institute (Finnish Centre of Russian and Eastern European Studies of University of Helsinki)
Timo Hellenberg, Dr., Head of Liaison, the Aleksanteri Institute (Finnish Centre of Russian and Eastern European Studies of University of Helsinki)
Sergei Medvedev, Professor, Associate Dean, Higher School of
Economics (and Political Science), Moscow
Minxin Pei, PhD, Senior Associate and Director of the China Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington
Funding: The Academy of Finland