The Conundrum of the New Cold War between US and China

I said, “It seems a new Cold War has already begun” in my post “The beginning of a new Cold War: On Putin’s Beijing visit” on June 6, 2012. At that time, US pivot to Asia aimed at containing China forced China to seek alliance with Russia to resist US containment.

I described the two sides of the seemingly emerging new Cold War respectively in my posts “The new Cold War: The autocracy camp” on June 7 and “The new Cold War: The democracy camp” on June 11.

On March 25, 2013, I believed that the new Cold War had really instead of seemingly emerged in my post “The emergence of a new Cold War”.

Wars need not be declared. As long as there is real military fighting, there is the war so that the US is fighting a war in Afghanistan though it has not declared the war.

A cold war, on the other hand, is the fighting without fire so that it is even more unnecessary for the parties to declare the cold war though everybody knows a cold war is being fought when the cold war has emerged.

So is the Cold War between the democracy and autocracy camps I described.

It has to be made clear that the democracy camp consists of those who regard themselves as democracies according to their definition of democracy while the autocracies in the opposite camp are regarded by the democracy camp as autocracies. If free election is regarded as major standard of democracy, Russia, Pakistan and Iran are democracies while if Lincoln’s government for the people is regarded as the most important one of the three standards for democratic government: of the people, by the people and for the people, even the United States cannot be regarded as a democracy as it is a split nation with politicians fighting for the different parts of American people.

Even US President Trump is making efforts to do things he has promised to those who voted him. What about those who voted against him?

From that prospective, China, a one-party autocracy, can be regarded a true democracy as the party regards “putting the people first” as its doctrine. The government of that ruling party has indeed done a lot for Chinese people, having lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty and greatly improved people’s living standards.

Let’s return to our topic the new Cold War. Neither side of the old Cold War has declared their cold war, nor have the two sides of the new Cold War.

I regarded US pivot to Asia as the beginning of the new Cold War as it gave rise to the China-Russia alliance while the US was making great efforts to attracting Japan, Australia, the Philippines and Vietnam into its camp to encircle China, but failed.

America’s Indo-China Quad is the real establishment of its democracy camp of cold war. As the Quad is military in nature so that SCMP China affairs columnist Cary Huang says in its article “US, Japan, India, Australia … is Quad the first step to an Asian Nato?” on SCMP today, “The aegis (the Quad) these democracies create has the potential to develop into an Asian Nato – and dramatically change the region’s security landscape in the decades ahead.”

Mr. Cary Huang sees that the Quad is a Cold War organization in nature so that he predicts that it “has the potential to develop into an Asian Nato”. He is right that compared with pivot to Asia directed at China but confronted by China-Russia alliance, the Indo-Pacific quad can really be regarded as the establishment of the democracy camp of the new Cold War though no cold war has been declared.

In my previous post I said that the US Quad will perhaps be countered by the quad of China, Russia, Pakistan and Iran as those four except Pakistan are the countries that the US has been trying hard to contain, but they only resist US containment and have no enmity towards the other three countries in US Quad. Pakistan, however, will not oppose US Quad if India is not a part of it.

Anyway, as there is balance of strength between the two quads, it will remain a cold war without fire. Peace will still prevail. Even if US quad is Asian NATO, it will be an organization for peace in a cold war just like the European NATO established for peace in Europe.

However, I would like to point out that Mr. Cary Huang is wrong in saying “The new strategy to confront China head on with a unified front underscored a growing regional competition between Beijing and Washington.” There is only US containment of China but not China’s competition with the US. China’s Belt and Road initiative is mainly conducted in Central Asia, Pakistan and Eastern and Central Europe without reduction of US influence there. Even the Belt and Road in Southeast and South Asia are not within US sphere of influence and are open to participation by other countries.

Moreover, Belt and Road is for peaceful win-win cooperation while US Quad is solely for military alliance. Competition between peaceful win-win cooperation and military alliance? Weird idea!

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s article, full text of which can be found at