After years of communism and central planning, Russia and China embarked on broad transformations from planned to market economy and limited political liberalization reforms. Chinese reforms commenced in 1978, while those in the Soviet Union started in 1991. The two countries took contrasting paths to economic reform, and their experiences during economic transition have been viewed as polar opposites. The reform experiences of Russia and China sparked intense academic debates over a variety of issues surrounding transition from communism to market economy. The primary source of scholarly disagreement is whether the pace, the sequence, or country-specific initial conditions determines the success of economic and political reforms. The debates revolved around questions such as whether there is a relationship between economic processes and political reforms in the transitional states, or whether economic liberalization should pave the way for political liberalization. Two dominant approaches to transition from socialism to capitalism advanced in the literature are “shock therapy” and gradualism; the former was adopted by the Russians and the latter by the Chinese. Several lessons can be learned from the Russian and Chinese transition, such as the impact of structural forces on the leadership’s policy preferences and the importance of tenable development policies to ensure the success of economic reforms. Notwithstanding these lessons, there remain a number of questions that deserve further investigation, mainly in terms of the role of China and Russia in world politics.
Mariya Y. Omelicheva and John James Kennedy
Latin American foreign policy has drawn the attention of scholars since the 1960s. Foreign policy–related literature began to surge in the 1980s and 1990s, with a focus on both economic and political development. As development in the region lagged behind that of its northern neighbors, Latin American had to rely on foreign aid, largely from the United States. In addition to foreign aid, two of the most prevalent topics discussed in the literature are trade/economic liberalization and regional economic integration (for example, Mercosur and NAFTA). During and after the Cold War, Latin America played a strategic foreign policy role as it became the object of a rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union hoping to expand their power and/or contain that of the other. This role was also explored in a considerably larger body of research, along with the decision of Latin American nations to diversify their foreign relations in the post–Cold War era. Furthermore, scholars have analyzed different regions/countries that have become new and/or expanded targets of Latin American foreign policy, including the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Despite the substantial amount of scholarship that has accumulated over the years, a unified theory of Latin American foreign policy remains elusive. Future research should therefore focus on the development of a theory that incorporates the multiple explanatory variables that influence foreign policy formulation and takes into account their relative importance and the effects on each other.