Derek J. Mitchell
month, which abruptly distanced China from the West, facilitated therapprochement between China and the Soviet Union, even as the latter facedextinction. In May 1991, for instance, the two governments entered into anagreement on shared borders; the reduction of Russian troops along the Chineseborder helped improve the bilateral relationship, as did the Soviet withdrawalfrom Afghanistan in 1989 and the end of Soviet support for Vietnam’s occupationof Cambodia.The collapse of the Soviet Union on Christmas 1991 stunned Beijing but didnot long derail diplomacy between Moscow and Beijing, which quickly extendedrecognition to the Russian Federation. Russian policymakers initially leanedtoward the West in their orientation and expressed some wariness about theimplications of a rising China for their security, but as the decade progressed,Russia’s need to balance its growing disappointment, vulnerability, and relianceon the West led Boris Yeltsin into deeper engagement with Beijing. In 1994, thetwo governments announced a “constructive partnership.” In 1996, with Chinaand the United States recently embroiled in Taiwan Strait tensions, the two sidesupgraded relations to the level of “strategic partnership.” In 1997, agreement wasreached on military force reductions,
and in November 1998, China and Russiaannounced that the bilateral border dispute was all but resolved (although it tookuntil 2004 to complete a final arrangement).
The institutionalization of cooperation in Central Asia through the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, andthe promulgation of a 20-year “Good Neighborly Treaty of Friendship andCooperation” in July 2001, the first such agreement between China and Russiasince 1950, further consolidated Sino-Russian partnership.
crackdown of June 4. Organizers recognized that the Soviet leader’s visit would attractinternational media attention and used Gorbachev’s political reforms to call for similar changes athome.
According to this agreement, the two countries agreed to limit force size to 130,040 troopswithin 100 kilometers of their common border.
Border resolution meant a fairly even division of islands along rivers that separate the twocountries. Of the 413 islands and islets along the Argun River, for instance, Russia received 204 andChina 209. Of the 1,680 islands along the Amur River, Russia received 708 and China 902. Of the320 islands along Ussuri River, Russia received 167 and China 153. In addition, China acquired theterritory around Lake Khanka and the Suifen River; the Granitnaya River was designated asmarking the China-Russia border; and two disputed regions along the Tumen River were evenlydivided. The status of two disputed territories, the Heixaizi and Abagaitu Islets along the easternportion of the China-Russia border, were left unresolved until October 14, 2004, when the“Complementary Agreement between the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federationon the Eastern Section of the China-Russia Boundary” was signed. Akihiro Iwashita,
A 4,000 Kilometer Journey Along the Sino-Russian Border
(Sapporo, Japan: Slavic Research Center,Hokkaido University, 2004), http://src-home.slav.hokudai.ac.jp/coe21/publish/no3_ses/ contents.html.