Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2020, Vol. 30 ›› Issue (10): 1702-1720.doi: 10.1007/s11442-020-1808-6

• Research Articles • Previous Articles    

The cooperative and conflictual interactions between the United States, Russia, and China: A quantitative analysis of event data

YUAN Lihua1(), SONG Changqing1,2,*(), CHENG Changxiu1,2, SHEN Shi1,2, CHEN Xiaoqiang1, WANG Yuanhui1   

  1. 1. Center for GeoData and Analysis, Faculty of Geographical Science, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
    2. State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
  • Accepted:2020-06-02 Online:2020-10-25 Published:2020-10-27
  • Contact: SONG Changqing;
  • About author:Yuan Lihua (1988-), PhD Candidate, specialized in trade relationships and regional studies. E-mail:
  • Supported by:
    The Second Tibetan Plateau Scientific Expedition and Research (STEP) program, No(2019QZKK0608);Talent Start Project of Beijing Normal University


The United States, Russia and China are militarily and economically among the most powerful countries in the post-Cold War period, and the interactions between the three powers heavily influence the international system. However, different conclusions about this question are generally made by researchers through qualitative analysis, and it is necessary to objectively and quantitatively investigate their interactions. Monthly-aggregated event data from the Global Data on Events, Location and Tone (GDELT) to measure cooperative and conflictual interactions between the three powers, and the complementary cumulative distribution function (CCDF) and the vector autoregression (VAR) method are utilized to investigate their interactions in two periods: January, 1991 to September, 2001, and October, 2001 to December, 2016. The results of frequencies and strengths analysis showed that: the frequencies and strengths of USA-China interactions slightly exceeded those of USA-Russia interactions and became the dominant interactions in the second period. Although that cooperation prevailed in the three dyads in two periods, the conflictual interactions between the USA and Russia tended to be more intense in the second period, mainly related to the strategic contradiction between the USA and Russia, especially in Georgia, Ukraine and Syria. The results of CCDF indicated that similar probabilities in the cooperative behaviors between the three dyads, but the differences in the probabilities of conflictual behaviors in the USA-Russia dyad showed complicated characteristic, and those between Russia and China indicated that Russia had been consistently giving China a hard time in both periods when dealing with conflict. The USA was always an essential factor in affecting the interactions between Russia and China in both periods, but China’s behavior only played a limited role in influencing the interactions between the USA-Russia dyad. Our study provides quantitative insight into the direct cooperative and conflictual interactions between the three dyads since the end of the Cold War and helps to understand their interactions better.

Key words: USA-Russia-China, cooperation and conflict, interactions, GDELT, complementary cumulative distribution function (CCDF), vector autoregression model (VAR)