The Sino-Russian Strategic Understanding on the Arab Uprisings: Motivations and Implications

Gamal M. Selim, The British University in Egypt


This article seeks to analyse the emerging Sino-Russian strategic understanding on the Arab uprisings of late 2010 and beyond by investigating its underlying motivations and its implications for Middle East and international politics. Building on the assumptions of ‘power transition theory’ in explaining great power interactions, it is argued that the Sino-Russian strategic understanding on the Arab uprisings dovetails with their pre-existing strategic posture in relation to global politics, and was motivated by their joint rising dissatisfaction with US unilateralist and hegemonic policies in the region. Such policies, from a Sino-Russian perspective, tended to exclude, rather than accommodate, the interests of both powers in this pivotal part of the globe. This prompted Russia and China to capitalize on their growing military and economic power and join efforts in the form of a strategic understanding in an attempt to effectively challenge an intrusive and overreaching hegemon and secure their interests in the region. This strategic understanding has had significant implications for the configuration of great power relationships in the direction of challenging US regional hegemony and facilitating a shift in the regional and global balance of power.