We welcome a guest post today from Gregg A. Brazinsky, author of Winning the Third World: Sino-American Rivalry during the Cold War. In the book, Brazinsky examines afresh the intense and enduring rivalry between the United State and China during the Cold War. He shows how both nations fought vigorously to establish their influence in newly independent African and Asian countries. By playing a leadership role in Asia and Africa, China hoped to regain its status in world affairs, but Americans feared that China’s history as a nonwhite, anticolonial nation would make it an even more dangerous threat in the postcolonial world than the Soviet Union. Drawing on a broad array of new archival materials from China and the United States, Brazinsky demonstrates that disrupting China’s efforts to elevate its stature became an important motive behind Washington’s use of both hard and soft power in the “Global South.”
In the following post, Brazinsky addresses this week’s international summit in Beijing to discuss Xi Jinping’s “Belt and Road” initiative.
Is China’s New World Order Really New?This week 28 heads of state are gathering in Beijing for a momentous two-day summit. The focus of the summit will be Xi Jinping’s ambitious “Belt and Road” initiative. Under the auspices of this massive program, China will invest as much as $1.4 trillion in infrastructural development projects spread across parts of Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa.
Western news media covering this initiative have characterized it as a bold attempt on the part of Beijing to challenge American influence and carve out a more central role for itself in world affairs. According to NBC, some analysts have suggested that “the project could shift the center of the global economy and challenge the U.S.-led world order.” Similarly, CNN.com has published a lengthy article on “China’s New World Order” and called the summit “the latest step in China’s evolution as a global power.”
During the 1950s and 1960s, China launched a campaign to unite newly independent nations of Asia and Africa under the aegis of anti-imperialism. This meant expanding its diplomatic, cultural, and economic contacts with “Third World” countries in the face of strong American opposition.