“Cold War” is a term used to describe the ideological war between the United States of America and the Soviet Union right after World War II. Both countries emerged as superpowers after WWII, and the world became bipolar. The world was divided into two blocs: one led by the USA and the other by the USSR.
Why is it called the “Cold War“?
The conflict between the two countries was an ideological and geopolitical struggle for global influence. There was no direct large-scale war between the two countries. However, proxy wars were part of this cold war. Additionally, the race for space exploration, embargoes, propaganda, and psychological tactics were the tools for winning this rivalry. This war ended in 1991 following the disintegration of the USSR.
Cold War II
Many scholars consider the rivalry between the United States of America and China to be Cold War II. China’s approach to the world is governed by only one idea: how China’s power is perceived in relation to the USA’s power. The United States of America’s foreign policy is based on the “containment of China.” China is expanding its global influence via trade and military agreements.
For example, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership often referred to as RCEP, is a trade agreement between Asia-Pacific nations. Fifteen countries are members of this agreement. This project accounts for 30% of the global GDP and is therefore the largest trade bloc in history.
The other trade program is the Belt and Road Initiative, which is also known as BRI. It is an intercontinental infrastructure development program and is considered the centerpiece of Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s foreign policy. So far, 149 countries have signed up for BRI.
Increasing influence in the South China Sea is threatening the USA’s hegemony over the sea routes. China has occupied many of the islands in the South China Sea and has developed artificial islands as well. It has increased its troops in the sea, which is challenging other countries claiming their sovereignty over the sea. The United States is intervening because it believes China is violating international maritime law.
The Solomon Islands Agreement is a bilateral agreement between China and the Solomon Islands on security cooperation. Its basic purpose is to boost China’s national security capacity. The United States and its allies are concerned about what will happen if China establishes a permanent military base there, which is only about 2,000 kilometers from Australia.
How America is Responding?
The United States of America is also taking steps to counter China. The Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII) is a megaproject announced by the G7 countries at their 48th summit in response to anti-China policies. It is a continuation of the “Build Back a Better World” project, also known as “B3W.”These projects were launched to counter BRI. The AUKUS Agreement is a military agreement between the UK, the USA, and Australia. Both countries, the UK and the USA will provide nuclear-powered submarines to Australia. This is to balance China’s presence on Solomon Island.
Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD) is a military alliance of America, Australia, Japan, and India. It was formed after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami to provide humanitarian and disaster assistance, but now its purpose is to counter China’s growing influence in the region. It is considered key to focus on the Indo-Pacific region. Some scholars call it “Asian-NATO.” However, it has yet to be decided.
Some are skeptical of the term “Cold War II.”
- The United States and China are not at odds ideologically.
- The world is not bipolar.
- There are no proxy wars.
- A containment policy will not work as the global economy has become so integrated.
The answer is that no cold war has to be a carbon copy of the previous one. Though there is no war between capitalism and communism, the struggle of the US to maintain a US-led governance model and China’s struggle to reshape the existing world order are not less important to the world.