Winning the Third World: Sino-American Rivalry during the Cold War

Winning the Third World: Sino-American Rivalry during the Cold War

Winning the Third World: Sino-American Rivalry during the Cold War

Winning the Third World: Sino-American Rivalry during the Cold War


Winning the Third World examines afresh the intense and enduring rivalry between the United States and China during the Cold War. Gregg A. Brazinsky 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.”

Presenting a detailed narrative of the diplomatic, economic, and cultural competition between Beijing and Washington, Brazinsky offers an important new window for understanding the impact of the Cold War on the Third World. With China’s growing involvement in Asia and Africa in the twenty-first century, this impressive new work of international history has an undeniable relevance to contemporary world affairs and policy making.


No two countries will have greater influence over the destiny of humanity in the twenty-first century than the United States and the People’s Republic of China. Their size, wealth, and power enable them to expand their influence around the world, arousing a combination of admiration and resentment. Although the two nations can and in fact must cooperate on many global issues, their different histories, values, and conceptions of world order make competition in at least some areas inevitable. in the early twenty-first century, Sino-American competition has been especially prevalent in parts of Asia and Africa that were once dominated by European colonialism and today struggle to achieve economic development. Many observers fear that a rising China will sweep American influence out of these regions and thus challenge or replace American ascendancy in world politics. They worry that China will spread a model of political and economic development that will fundamentally undermine the liberal international order that the United States seeks to uphold.

These fears are not completely new, and neither is China’s determination to establish itself as an important power in what used to be called the Third World. This book tells the story of an intense and enduring competition that prevailed between Beijing and Washington in the region during an earlier but not so distant era—the Cold War. It demonstrates that this competition was an important priority for both the United States and China and that it played a pivotal role in shaping the Cold War’s evolution. This competition spread across diverse regions of the globe and encompassed the diplomatic, political, cultural, and economic realms. It shaped the destinies of some Asian and African countries and helped to define the global agendas of both the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the United States.

What fueled such an expansive competition? I argue that status was the most important driving force behind this struggle. a powerful nationalistic tide that sought to avenge China’s humiliation at the hands of European colonialism was at the heart of Chinese politics through much of the twentieth century. It helped to inspire the creation of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and had a profound effect on the worldview of the party’s leaders. Through much of the Cold War, Beijing found itself alienated from the Free World and relegated to a subordinate position vis-à-vis . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.