The numerous similarities between Russia and China make it intuitively attractive to examine the relevance of Chinese economic reforms to the troubled situation in Russia. In addition, Russia's wavering between Chinese and Western economic models is a real-world replay of two heated theoretical debates: first, between shock therapists and those who favor more gradual economic transformations; and second, between those who believe that economic reform best precedes political reform and those who argue that the sequencing of reforms matters little. It is argued that, although Russia's economic reforms will have to progress more slowly than shock therapists would prefer, adopting the Chinese model does not present a viable “third way” for Russian economic reformers. This conclusion is based upon an analysis of Russia's unique political situation, economic constraints, and the effects of its attempt to move towards democracy and the market simultaneously.

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