By Alejandro Paniagua - International Relations student
Is China the new Soviet Union? Twenty-nine years have passed since the end of the Cold War. After forty-six years of global polarization, the world had a break from the competition between the United States and the Soviet Union. But, like any other international conflict, the Cold War left a mark and showed that an issue between two states can provoke collateral damage.
Under this idea, the international community is now entering into a complicated period, in which states such as the United States and China are now battling to demonstrate their power. In modern times, power is no longer (only) conceived as a military or political strength. A new “category” of power is now present for every state in the international community, and it is named economic power. Over the last years, China had exponential growth as a world power. Its economic system and trade resources allowed the nation to get recognition from the international community. According to the World Bank (2018), China had a GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of 13.61 trillion USD, while the United States had one of 20.54 trillion USD. This number not only represents how China has grown, but also how they have been able to develop a competitive market and economy.
One of the main events that provoked worldwide confusion happened in 2019, when President Donald Trump banned U.S companies who entered into business with the Chinese company Huawei. The decision was made due to rumors that privacy policies were not being complied, putting national security in danger. This event created a whole debate on whether China was going to respond in any way to the broken relation with Huawei, and questioned other states for which side of the conflict to take.
Something is true, the relationship of Trump with the Chinese government has not been the greatest. In times of COVID-19, the U.S. president has criticized the Chinese health measures on the pandemic, and has almost blamed the State of China for its spread. On the other hand, Trump has not been the only one putting China in the spotlight for the virus spread, even Great Britain has taken their actions by sending spy agencies to check on Beijing`s behavior.
One aspect to compare the Cold War to the U.S vs China economical disputes is the fact that at the time of the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union competed to be the most powerful nation in terms of development (military and technological). By taking a look at the ongoing issue between China and the United States, both countries aim to be the strongest economy, and they are putting their efforts into this growth. Washington and Beijing`s representatives have stated that they do not want a new Cold War (Haltiwanger, 2020).
Definitely, China and the United States are now the the leading world powers, and the rest of the countries are watchful over their actions. Politicians from both states have declared that they do not intend to provoke a new Cold War, but, in reality, the strategic competition will continue. Under this idea, the rest of the international community keeps an eye on the situation, hoping that this competition does not create a climate of hostility. To call this conflict a “new Cold War” is really up to personal criticism. Even though times and conditions are different, the struggle for power is the biggest similarity, for two states that aim to be number one.