chapter  2
21 Pages

China ‘leans to one side’ in the Cold War

The Chinese Revolution of 1949 reverberated around Asia and indeed the world. For the first time in over a hundred years, events in China seemed to have dramatically and decisively moved in ways that the outside world (i.e. the West, Japan, and even the Soviet Union), found difficult to shape, or indeed at times understand. This was in an international setting in which alignment was expected and pushed for. US President Harry Truman set this out in his defining Cold War speech to a joint session of Congress, that ‘at this moment in world history nearly every nation must choose between alternative ways of life’ (Truman 1947: 179). His outlook was matched by Secretary of State Dean Acheson’s comments on 27 February 1947 that ‘only two great powers remained in the world . . . the United States and the Soviet Union. Not since Rome and Carthage had there been such a polarization of power on the earth’ (Kissinger 1994: 452), that is, classic geopolitical structural frameworks. Similar bipolar spectacles were apparent in the USSR, with Andrei Zhdanov’s Report on the International Situation at the founding session of the Cominform in September 1947.