Paper Title
Power Shifts, Multiple Audiences, and Credible Reassurance in Sino-Russian Relations

It has been widely noted that rising states face great difficulty in credibly communicating benign intentions, due to strong incentives for hostile risers to misrepresent themselves while they are still gaining power. However, virtually all literature on power shifts and reassurance relates to bilateral interactions between a rising and declining state. This article presents a formal model showing that when more than one audience is involved, rising states have an additional means of communicating their intentions through simple, costless statements. In particular, if the preferences of the receivers are sufficiently divergent, the rising sender cannot simultaneously send cooperative public signals to both parties to avoid a balancing response. This reduces the riser’s incentive to misrepresent its preferences, and lends credibility to its public statements of its intentions. The credibility of these signals is enhanced to the extent that they align with the preferences of the less-powerful receiver. The model is illustrated by a case study of China’s successful reassurance of Russia since the end of the Cold War. The three player dynamic outlined in the model has allowed China to (easily and relatively costlessly) reassure Russia that its preferences align more closely with Russia than with the US, helping the two avoid conflict and sustain an evolving strategic partnership, despite their troubled past relations and the growing power asymmetry between them. Keywords – Costly Signaling, Credibility, Socialization, US-China Relations, Reassurance, Security Dilemma