tv U.S.- China Competition During the Cold War CSPAN June 18, 2017 12:30pm-2:01pm EDT
park and other stops on our city towards at www.c-span.org /citytours. you are watching american history tv on c-span3. >> history professor greg brezinski discusses the competition between the united states and china to influence newly independent african and asian countries during the cold war. he is the author of, "winning the third world, american rivalry during cold war." this 90 minute event was co-hosted by the woodrow wilson center and the national history center. >> today's seminar featuring
greg brezinski, will get underway momentarily. with that, christian will and -- introduce today's speaker. thank you. >> thank you, eric. welcome to all of you. apologies for the slight delay. you have been very patient with us running over session. i feel good about giving them a couple minutes extra for set up. be aware, you will be taped. we have, for those of you who
have been with us for this spring semester, we have had a number of really great presentations and special events. this one is particularly special to me, the launch of greg brezinski's winning the third world sino-american rivalry during the cold war. greg, as many of you know, is associate professor of history and national affairs at george washington university, really one of this country's leading historical voices and historians of asia. he is author of nation building in south korea korean-americans in the making of a democracy. of course now, winning the third world. he is a friend and part of the wilson center family, is even more special. he was with us 2010, 2011 at the -- as the most senior fellowship you can get from the wilson center. he is a senior adviser to two of
the programs at the center. his current work, he is on to his next project, of course, focuses very much to our delight north korean relations. you'd also working on a larger book on nation building in asia. it's a very, very special occasion to have you here, greg, to launch your new book. we launched your first one, and it is just fantastic lunch this launch this volume. copies of the book will be available for sale outside for your convenience. afterwards, please join us for small reception over in the room right next door here with that,
. i will turn it over to greg. >> thank you for that very generous introduction. it's good to be here the woodrow wilson center. i want to thank the washington history seminar and the national history center. i want to thank friends and family members, in particular my mother and stepfather for being in the audience today. this book is actually dedicated to the memory of five people we all knew well. as christian mentioned, i was a visiting fellow here about six years ago. in the interim, whenever i have that we insation the historical profession -- what it ise you are writing a book about, i
say that i am writing on sino-american competition in the third world. they say, "oh, what's going on in africa." i tell them i'm actually working on the cold war. when i was in beijing meeting up with one of my former chinese teachers, i told her about all of the interesting documents. she said, "i think all the stuff about the cold war will be a very small part of your book and the stuff in the last 10 years will be in much larger part of your book." be idea is that i should writing a pre-history of current sino-american competition. when i set out to write this book, i really didn't set out to write a pre-history of what is going on in the current times,
or a pre-history of anything else. it came across this topic, the way many scholars come across their topics, by stumbling across what i thought were some interesting primary sources. the first set i came across, was when i was putting together a course on the cold war in the third world, and this course looked at u.s. policy, soviet policy in the third world -- as i was finding primary source documents to give my students about u.s. policy in africa, one of the things i was surprised by was how concerned american policymakers were the chinese -- were about the chinese activities in africa. in fact, they were often more concerned about what the chinese were doing in africa than they were about what the soviets were doing in africa. i thought this was interesting.
maybe i will write an article about some day. i filed it in the back of my mind. then, i came across another even more important set of primary sources. to 2007, i 2007 -- was invited to china for a number of conferences. when i went for these conferences, i do what all cold war historians do when they visit foreign countries. i look in the archives. this is me in front of the foreign ministry archive beginning in about 2004 -- the chinese foreign ministry started to declassify a growing number of materials on cold war foreign policy. the declassify them in several patches. the first was from 1949-1954, then there were subsequent batches that covered 1955-59,
to 1965. this is me in front of the archive. i know the shorts and shirt do not match very well, but, when you live out of your suitcase, doing or have a research for a month, this is what you end up with. it was taken i think around 7:30 in the morning. those of you who know me know how much i hate to be anywhere at 7:30 in the morning. at the time, the archive only had about nine computers. this is exciting stuff. these new materials about chinese cold war foreign policy. so lawrence lucy -- a great motivator for getting you to the archives, those of you who know him, he and i is together at about 7:30, so we could be there before all the chinese graduate students influence from the provinces.
we were there, and i thought these documents were interesting. many of them documented china's relations with asia and africa. they have their limitations, but , nonetheless, the documents also clearly constituted a significant advance in our knowledge about china's cold war era foreign policy. i thought that these documents really speak to those documents i found when i was putting together my class on the cold war in the third world in interesting ways. i thought that, taken together, they told this story about sino-american rivalry, an enduring and an expensive rivalry between china and united states for influence in the third world during the cold war. i felt these documents would let me get into the topic in ways that scholars have not done so previously.
this was really how the topic started to come together. at the same time, i really struggled to figure out what exactly this book was -- what the theme of this book was going to be. what was it going to be about? it, the topic, very difficult and challenging to write about. both countries offered economic aid, but china's policy towards afro-asian countries, a lot of its economic programs didn't serve china's economic interests at all. in fact, chinese economic aid programs often promoted self-sufficiency and autarky. that wasn't a good answer. was it geo-strategy and national security? this too was obviously a
consideration at some point. -- ahere were also a large ung theories that the united states and china had engaged in a variety of activities over and around each other to gain influence. they also had their limitations. their relationship with each other went far beyond national interest. i thought about this, and i wrote chapters. re-wrote chapters and threw away chapters. i realized some of the stuff i was throwing away was an actual bad, soot actually that i picked it back up again.
i went back and forth. finally, i had an epiphany about this book. it was one afternoon when i was parking in the costco parking lot, where all the wealthy lobbyist are parking their cars. there in the middle of this parking lot is the professor kaczynski mobile, my 2002 corolla. i was feeling some sense of inadequacy. i thought, why? with the better cars, would they get me to where i wanted to go faster? probably not. i realized that status influences us, our leaders, and our countries. i started to think, do nations
like us think about status when they devised their foreign strategy? i am not claiming i invented the idea that that is -- that status is relevant to foreign policy. in fact, there has been a significant political science and literary theory on this. i decided to completely ignore what the political scientist are saying, and i realized what i found wanting in their definition of status was that it insisted that status meant a position within a formal hierarchy. this didn't fit china's aspirations. china's view of its status in the third world, what it aspired to, was more like this, comrades.
china is central. it is admired, it is glorified, and it is important. there's a formal hierarchy. china does not command in a formal reference. in fact, china and its rivalry -- it was a rival of the united states through almost the beginning of the cold war, then in the late 1950's-early 1960's after the sino-soviets what occurred. then it would become engaged in a protracted rivalry with the soviet union as well. china always claims that what differentiated itself from its great power rivals in the third world was that it was not seeking formal deference. it was different was not trying -- different, because it was not trying to credit formal -- create formal hierarchy. in this book, i try to talk
about that in terms of how chinese and emergent officials view status -- and american officials view status rather than how political scientists have seen it. i dropped very loosely on their theory. if you read the book you will see i'm not the local scientist. -- not a political scientist. i don't have the independent and dependent variables, and untried operationalize status or do anything crazy like that. i argue this two reasons this was important to china. as a lot of stuff about the media -- a lot of in the media's nonsense. , that is thewith
legacy of national humiliation. this has been emphasized, this idea that china was once important factor. that it had been divided faded invaded, and robbed its rightful place. the international fashion chinese leaders, i argue during the cold war -- so the third world in particular as a region where they could regain their lost status. forget national humiliation, this is elementary schoolchildren today, foisting a banner with slogan. another reason this was important to china, the center of chinese foreign policy was oh -- was this man, mao zedong. mao was an insult
to china, and vice versa. often when china made efforts to gain status in the developing world, these efforts were geared china's at raising prestige, but also in enhancing the status of mao. this effort to facilitate his writings. did the u.s. like china's efforts to improve its service world?third not very much. americans, i argue, were generally very competent in their own status. they were the wealthiest and
most powerful military in the world within world war ii. they do not want to see china a rival, increase its own status. americans even took an exaggerated view of chinese influence. i argue the fact that they took this exaggerated view did not make the competition less important. i think it was actually his perception that led to american policies and sometimes wasteful american commitments to try and block chinese influence in the third world. in the book, i look at several different kinds of competition between united states and china. first, i will summarize them briefly. if you really want this in detail, you have to buy. so, what were these forms of competition? one, diplomatic china was a new stage in 1949. it was first inaugurated of course in 1949.
for a new state like china, just achieving basic diplomatic relations with other countries was important. and so, china actually tries to first establish basic relations states, in the united states does everything it can to prevent them from doing so. china also tried to ultimate positive impression of itself that major international conferences. that included conferences such as the geneva conference, and perhaps most importantly, the bent on conference committee after-asian conference in 1955. speaking before this conference in 1955, where he made a very important performance that really did raise china standing among afro
-asian countries that didn't have relations with it before the conference. these conferences, beijing often represented itself as a peaceful afro-asian nation that had also suffered from in the pure realism in the past, and it tried to create a leadership role for itself among afro-asian countries as a successful example of post-colonial nationbuilding. state visits, these were also a very important part of chinese diplomacy. china constantly tried to raise its international profile for sending itsy representatives to asia, africa, different afro-asian dates. -- states. included the famous 1964
visit to africa, regarded as it bold and important, also successful trip at the time. to the united states do question -- to united states, they did everything possible to undermine. it puts pressure on neutral countries to not establish relations with the people's republic of china. the united dates generally try to do everything that occurred -- that they could to minimize the importance of these conferences command to limit china's role. in fact, there's this famous story about the 1954 geneva conference, wenzhou online approaches secretary of state john foster dulles, and tries to shake his hand rituals -- shake his hand. apparently dismisses him and walks briskly past him. there is some debate among
historians about whether this event actually occurred. even if it didn't occur, as it is to see why take on such powerful emotional and symbolic resonance. another form of competition to read about this book, cultural. cultural competition i argue -- by three nature, it involves itself with presenting a positive image of your stage, a negative image of your rivals to the greatest degree possible. i focus on a lot of different about culturalng competition such as print or propaganda. one particular thing i found interesting about cultural competition between united states and china, was that they both emphasized each other's treatment of their own ethnic minorities. both china and the united states had, in very different ways, built empires that had forcefully incorporated different kinds of ethnic
minorities. so what chinese propaganda in asian and african countries often use is the civil rights struggle in the united states which was, of course, getting momentum a great deal during the 1950's and 1960's. the chinese propagandists would use this to demonstrate, look, this is how the united states treats its own minorities. how could the united states be trusted by other afro-asian peoples question mark one of the -- peoples? one of the things that china often did was that it invited disenfranchised african-american radicals, such as w.e.b. dubois. this picture is of him with a ranking chinese party official.
he visited china when he was about 90 years old. he was taken around to african embassies in china. he basically spoke about how well treated he was in china, and how awful things were for african-americans back in the united states. he even wrote a poem, something like, "i praise china." so, china really established bonds with a limited number of african-american radicals. they did try to use them in propaganda value -- for propaganda value in competition with the united states among african and asian countries. how did the u.s. respond to this? it often responded by emphasizing china's treatment of its own minorities. beijing's suppression of the
giftuprising was kind of a that kept on giving for american propagandists. films were made and arranged for shows to be held in theaters throughout parts of asia and africa. this was actually a somewhat effective strategy. a lot of the regions that the united states and china were competing in, south asia, southeast asia, africa, where either heavily muslim, or heavily buddhist. so, this was an important counter dimension. who treats its ethnic minorities worse? and this was going on. there was a lot of back and forth on this on radios and newspapers and other media that the united states used and china used to propagandize in the third world.
this is another kind of competition that i talk about in the book. i call it insurgency and counterinsurgency. i think one of the most important ways that china sought to expand its influence in the third world was through promoting insurgencies. how they use different strategies for promoting its influence in asia and africa different times. sometimes it focused more on the importance of this promising -- importance of diplomacy, as a peaceful afro-asian country. sometimes it presented a more revolutionary image of itself. especially after the sino-sophia slipped split, when the chinese want to emphasize they were the
more radical. the ones that truly supported revolutionaries, and that moscow didn't. beijing also hoped the mao zedong's ratings would serve as an inspiration to anti-colonial revolutionaries throughout the world, thus making china a more important part of a new postcolonial international order. what's new in this book -- people have written before about china's foreign policy in vietnam, in laos, and china's relationship with ho chi minh, -- there's good literature on that. i cover, with some new documents that i found in the chinese foreign ministry archive, but i also focus on china's support for revolutionaries in africa, especially the congo, zanzibar, some of the more interesting material that i found. records of conversations between chinese officials and congolese insurgents, who visited china or requested aid from the chinese government. here's were this argument i was mentioning before, about how the
united states took been exaggerated view of chinese influence in the third world. here's one of the places where this argument becomes particularly important. robert mcnamara coming years later in his memoir, in retrospect, he talks about how at the time, they took this exaggerated view of chinese influence, and they didn't realize that the vietnamese were actually nationalist revolutionaries with their own agenda. that was absolutely correct. he apologized for it, of course. it doesn't necessarily justify u.s. policy at the time. this perception in the united states that maoist doctrine was gaining influence in southeast worldnd throughout the played a very important role, not only in america's decision to escalate the war in vietnam, but also in a number of other far-flung ventures, such as u.s.
support for intervention in the congo and elsewhere. a final form of competition that i write about in this book, economic petition. -- economic competition. the first question that people ask is how china could have possibly competed with united states economically during the 1950's and 60's? china was in desperate poverty for part of this time. of course, the great leap forward had been a horrific failure. during the 1950's-early 1960's, you have as many as 40 million people starving to death. so where does china get the money and resources to compete with the united states in terms of economic aid? i argue in the book that china was actually highly strategic
about its aid and also surprisingly successful. in fact, i would say china's economic aid programs were china focused a lot of it stayed on poor countries in africa. there were not well understood by the united states. where the chinese believe that they were in a position to really have an impact. the idea was that chinese a project would be more than just simple in project. it would also be each case. models the virtue of sino african cooperation. how chinese aid was more selfless and altruistic than american aid. this wooden term ultimately create a model of economic cooperation both sino-american cooperation and south south economic cooperation.
other countries both in africa and asia with the emulated. but when china implemented it 's aid project, it tried to assure that they look different from american and soviet a project. they had a different symbolic geography. how did they look different? one of the things that the chinese always insisted on and they became known for in africa was that chinese technicians were expected to adopt to local living conditions. they couldn't demand imported luxuries. part of it was because china wasn't in a position to send over air-conditioners and refrigerators in the first place. nonetheless, china was saying look how our technicians live and work in the old -- fields beside africans. i praise the chinese just for this.
it enabled some people on the ground to proceed the chinese as brethren. -- percieve the chinese as brethren. the obvious criticism is are you getting this from chinese sources? the cia also said it. if you look at cia document about chinese foreign-policy, they actually say that chinese aid programs were successful. you can go online and look at the frontline diplomacy project that is housed at the library of congress. these wonderful interviews with people who worked in the foreign service. they also say the same thing. they talk about how successful some chinese aid projects were. given how little china and the united states agreed upon, when they agree upon this, you can
say that there is probably some element of truth to this. chinese aid projects were designed to respond to specific needs of host countries. they argued this was in contrast to u.s. aid projects which frequently forced countries to contract with american firms or by american goods. the most famous of these projects, i won't talk in great detail about specific chinese aid project. -- projects. if you want something that is free for more detail, i published a paper here at the wilson center about chinese aid. if you want something really specific, you can go to the international history project. the most famous of the chinese
aid projects worthy trans am railway which created a land like between zombie a -- this was the kind of a project that china wanted to be involved in. it had been turned down by the united states and the world bank. china understood this as an opportunity to step in and expand its influence. the united states understood what china was attempting to achieve through these aid projects surprisingly well. interestingly, what i found was that sometimes the united states tried very specifically with its own aid projects to not counted economic impact of china's aid but to capture the political impact of chinese aid.
for instance, when china built the trans-am railway, the united states try to build the great north road as a market based capitalist alternative to the more state driven trans am railway. these are the kind of competitions i highlight. who one? -- who won? in reality, neither side one. in many ways, both sides lost. i think china's revolutionary model of nationbuilding did have some genuine appeal to nationalists in newly independent countries. at the same time even though china had this appeal, china never gained the status that it claimed. as a leader among afro-asian countries.
part of this was because the afro-asian world where china was seeking to expand its prestige was actually far less of a unified thing than china and other people made it out to be. china saw to bring afro-asian countries together under anti-colonial nationalism and revolution. it often oversupplied and misunderstood the motives of leaders in the region for espousing solidarity. afro-asian leaders often shifted their views and strategies. you also have political chaos sometimes in afro-asian countries. they would cultivate one leader and then they would be overthrown. some countries were interested in trying to play the great powers against each other in order to pursue their own
interests and next their own independence and autonomy. another reason that china did gain the status that it claimed -- craved is that china was its own worst enemy. china's revolutionary steel -- zeal was a double-edged sword and a mixed blessing. it's sometimes what to self-confidence, in other instances, it also led to an overzealous defensiveness on the part of china that alienated many of the countries and the leaders whose loyalty china was seeking. i point to several examples of this in the book. one was beijing's failed effort to present an afro-asian conference. the idea was that in 1964, and 1965, china started advocating for a second afro-asian
conference to be held. the idea is that it would be a 10 year follow-up to the 1955 conference bringing together afro-asian countries again. china not only advocated for the conference but it also tried very hard to control the tone and the agenda of the conference. it tried to insist that the conference's platform strongly denounced both american imperialism and soviet revisionism. the problem was that there were many afro-asian countries were open to having a conference but they didn't want to involve themselves in china's feuds with the soviet union. the second afro-asian conference turned into a giant boondoggle. what happens is the president of algeria was overthrown days before the conference was
supposed to begin. china tried to insist that the conference continue as planned and it work with the new algerian government to try to assure this. other afro-asian countries were starting to become deeply ambivalent about the whole enterprise. it ended up being a disaster. china have been too strongly consistent that the conference needed to follow its agenda. at the same time, i also argue that beijing's failings in the third world were nothing for the united states to congratulate itself about. they were rarely, if ever because of anything united states did. in many instances, washington
devoted significant resources to the struggle against chinese influence. it put pressure on other afro-asian leaders to stem and block chinese influence. often, this only made the united states look more and more willing. i argue that american interests were ultimately ill-served by the competitive and at times paranoid mindset with which american officials approached chinese influence. i started off by saying that current sino-american rivalry did not influence the genesis of this book. that doesn't mean i think the policy community should ignore this book. i think the lessons of this book very much before themselves.
i think the lessons should be -- it should in many ways be sobering to leaders of both china and the united states who call for ratcheting up confrontation over different issues whether it is north korea, competition in africa for the south china sea. -- or the south china sea. i think we're seeing competition between the united states and china reemerge. it has reemerged in many of the same reasons. -- regions where the two competed so vociferously and -- in the cold war. i argue this is not really a case of history repeating itself but more so as mark twain is reputed to have said, history rhymes. some parallels that -- are that as with cold war, asia and africa remain critical and central to china's effort to reinvent its position in world affairs.
"a formal conference to launch this one vote initiative which will link china to asia, africa and some parts of europe through massive investments in infrastructure and efforts to increase trade. i think that asian and african countries, china remains convinced that it has something to offer them. chinese officials don't like to say things that overtly but you hear chinese scholars and intellectuals bringing up these points. the american response is more measured but there are still often exaggerated reports for responses. before 2016, you had instances of overreactions. in 2010, johnny cochran, the
assistant secretary of state for african affairs at the time called the prc a pernicious competitor with no morals. the problem is that wikileaks got a hold of this document. it is one that is pretty easy to find nowadays. it damaged sino-american relations. i would say that in the future, there is inevitably going to be some forms of competition between the united states and china. we compete with everybody in some ways, even our allies.
there is always going to be some form of competition. with china, there is simply going to be areas where our strategic and economic expense are not aligned. there will be competition for influence. i also think that it is important that we not let the competition and rivalry dominate our relationship again. it is important to remember that competition between the united states and china solved a few if any of the problems of new independent afro-asian places in the cold war. the competition between the united states and china and the great power rivalry actually left many afro-asian states worse off than they would have been without it.
similarly, i don't think for new competition this going to contribute to the solutions of the most aboard issues that confront the world in the 21st century. the interests of both the united states and china will be better served if they can find better ways to cooperate and balance out any competition. i think this is the only way we can resolve and try to fix pressing problems such as nonproliferation, global warming and global poverty. i think that ultimately, through increasing sino u.s. cooperation in some of these areas you can also add, simultaneously, increase the status of china and united states for a long time to come. i will end their and be open to taking questions. thank you.
[applause] >> thank you for this distillation of some of your core arguments and themes of the book. we will have time for questions and comments on your part. if you could wait for the microphone, especially today since we are on camera, once we call on you, please state your name and affiliation if you like. let me start off the discussion with a couple of questions. first, start off by talking about the fantastic new sources that became available in the early 2000's. many of you are aware that those
the heart was central to this. to what extent does that limit your findings here and maybe as a site menu there, did you consult soviet sources that would give you a third view of the competition? >> second question, this book is about sino-american competition, i understand that. i was surprised that the other competition in the cold war, one that is fundamental to the cold war, -- could you bring that into the narrative of your narrative? it occurred to me, one of the reasons why american policy and lots of places around the world, the reason they have had tremendous difficulties is for our lack of understanding -- to what extent do you give china a positive review of the third world?
to what extent was that based on a greater cultural and economic policy as a compared to other powers? .>> thank you very much. those are three very important and interesting questions. in terms of materials, you always want more materials. there is never a historian that doesn't want more material. i was limited. i talk about this in the introduction. there are limits to what could be done with the foreign ministry archive. one of the things i talk about is chinese support for insurgencies and bit him. this is not the party archives
but perhaps the pla archives. there are many archives in china that are still not accessible. there is a lot of material in the united states. there are many times when i would file a for your request for mandatory declassification reviews and i get the document after two years and you think they are keeping this a secret? obviously, i would also say that this is not going to be the last word on the topic. i definitely hope that someday, when the party archives open, you will get more detail. i think the foreign ministry archives were strong on a lot of points. one is that you had records of meetings between chinese statesman and asian and african statesman. this is very important. yet the foreign ministry's analysis of these meetings, sometimes you also have commentary on this -- i the you can also make an argument that one of the things this document
shows is the centrality -- in some ways the procedural aspects. i should also say that i did make efforts to use other source materials, i didn't visit that many other countries. first, there is published sources, published indian sources. if you have that, you really don't need to go to the indian national archives, they are not that useful. i did use a small number of translated soviet sources, some of which i got from the cold war international history project. i tried to use as many international sources as
possible. i couldn't go to every single country. i couldn't learn every single language you would need to do this. no one can do this. if someone can, i will proudly admit and acknowledge that there are -- they are far superior to me. i think learning mandarin is hard enough. i also speak korean. i am not too apologetic that i didn't use every international source. i do hope that other scholars that can speak indonesian and are experts on africa and have the knowledge and ability to go to those countries and get into the archives will. i actually think that might book stimulated some of this in china. i have seen more and more
chinese graduate students saying that can we have the chinese archives? i am here so i will also go to africa. i will also go to southeast asia. i don't think it is completely my doing. i think there is very good chinese scholars who are encouraging this. i do hope the book will encourage more of this kind of research. you mentioned the sino-soviet competition. we talk about it in the book. i talk about the relationship between sino-soviet bribery and sino-american rivalry. china and the soviet union are relatively close. that's during the 50's. what happens is, i intimated this, after the split, china starts to support revolutionaries in the third world, even more strongly, if it wants to convince other afro asian countries that china is a
real friend of liberation movements and a soviet union isn't, the soviets were more cautious. my argument is that this actually made the sino u.s. rivalry even more intense. americans could realize there was this increase in medicalization of china -- chinese foreign-policy and also that the chinese couldn't be controlled as much. as much as foreign-policy makers were suspicious of the soviet union, they felt they could at least deal with them, there were normal relations. china was a wildcard to the united states. i argue that during the 1960's, this sino u.s. rivalry intensified. it is an important point where i think too many american policymakers, chinese activities
in southeast asian and africa -- is an effort to become more worrisome than soviet activist. i didn't talk about that today but there is a chapter on it in my book. there was limited talk between the united states and the soviet union. it never happened there is limited discussion of this. until of course, nixon and carter were -- it is actually the u.s. and china cooperating against the soviets. how will the china understand is countries? i create a generally positive image. i wouldn't say that it is constantly a positive image. there were places where the chinese did appeal to africa --
african revolutionaries are actually funny. you can see that the chinese didn't know who these guys were and what they were asking for. a lot of times, you are revolutionary and they bring them to china. sometimes they would say yes, we support this. they realized this is how you get chinese aid. that also goes to a point that i was making about the u.s. exaggerating chinese influence. not always understanding that just because somebody went to china or received a from china it meant they were absolutely committed to spreading this throughout the third world. thank you very much, those were good questions. >> this has to do with the extent of self-awareness on both
sides. by the 1950's, the united states was at least aware that the racial problems that you talked about in the book were not exactly helping it. they were trying to massage or at least manipulate the message. they knew they had a weak spot. they had to spin this in some form or fashion. is there any sense that the chinese were self-aware of the practices or policies they engaged in hurting themselves? you mentioned in the book, the war with india in the early 90 60's, the treatment of tibet, i assume they don't advertise. as you approach third world
leaders or would be leaders, are they aware that they are should themselves in the foot or at least engaging in practices that may not help them achieve their purpose? >> absolutely. i think the chinese certainly realize that the events in tibet were a problem. there is part of the book where they say they would go around to different afro asian countries, especially nepal and indonesia and he would say look, this whole problem, what is the cause? it is colonialism. it is a legacy of colonialism. that is how they would try to massage this issue. they would say we were victims of colonialism.
your victims of colonialism. you should understand that colonialism. there's a lot of chinese propaganda, more simple propaganda that tried to taper over the problem. a lot of chinese magazines saying that you still see this today in china. the tibetans were -- the dalai lama instituted a slave system. china had liberated the slaves. in fact, one time, i was in china watching television because i had nothing better to do. i saw one chinese policymakers saying that maus aegon -- maus aegon -- mao zedong ended slavery into that. china had very specific arguments that they made about
the issue, not everybody bought it. i think this was one of the more effective dimensions of u.s. diplomacy. i do believe the chinese were very much aware that this was creating an issue for them. >> let's take more questions. >> the gentleman over here, on the right side. >> i am a public policy fellow here. i don't speak mandarin. i wonder if this and 14,000 chinese railroads. every mile of track.
i wonder if the collapse of that which happened as many as later was a big setback for the chinese, do they feel they had blown it or do they let her go? >> i would say this is an interesting point. a lot of chinese a projects that were built in the 70's -- the 60's and 70's, they are not that successful. they build a lot of textile mills. 10 years later, they were not running at anything close to operational capacity. the plantations i talk about, the one in this working paper is how they were eventually abandoned and the chinese returned to them 20 years later. they were all covered with snakes and rodents. there is this problem that they collapsed. a lot of the projects don't work out in the long-term. it is a very complicated thing. why? they are all of these turns in african policies at times.
it is pathetic to china, can -- for instance, in mali, the government was -- we were very close to china, he got overthrown in 68. this changed that fundamental closeness between the two countries. it didn't destroy the relationship. then there is also the changing nature of china's on diplomacy toward africa.
some of the same rhetoric is still used today, mutual benefits, it would all be mutually beneficial, interest-free loans, you see some of this going on and a lot of the times, what china has done in the 80's and 90's is it actually went back and tried to revitalize some of the project it set up in the 60's that have faltered in the 70's. sometimes, it was successful. sometimes it was not. i think in terms of the long-term economic impact, it was mostly the 50's and 60's and early 70's, the long-term economic impact was limited. you're not going to get 10% economic growth the way the united states was getting in places like south korea or taiwan. there were also a lot of internal dynamics in the african countries. it inhibited growth. i think the fact that these economic aid projects didn't produce long-term prosperity in africa, i'll think the chinese completely got the blame for it.
i think some africans became completely disillusioned with aid. i have one quote that i found in the book, i think i found it in the new york times. there was the story going around, the chinese will supply the labor, the soviets will supply the technicians and the u.s. will supply the capital and the guineans will make sure that none of it works. you have a lot of stories like that as well. countries are becoming general disillusioned with economic aid. not necessarily saying this is because china was bad. at the time, they serve the political purpose fairly well. >> all the way in the back, before i had your question, just a note for those of you not familiar with the working paper, you can access that paper
corporate at the cultural international history project. many of the documents, some of them and many others are on our digital archives at digital archive.org. both free to access and to download. >> i'm at the east-west center doing the work on chinese aid. i look at your blog yesterday, -- book yesterday, it is fantastic. there is an area at the chinese relationship that fascinates me. it is not covered very much. one is west. the history of the cold war talks about the soviet national
plan for china. it is a massive investment. if you look at the days, a talk about one of the reasons for the big breakup between china and the soviet union. the soviet union was bleeding china drive. soviet laws were five-year loans. they were repayable in short term. i haven't read much about the chinese being bled dry by the soviets in the late 50's and early 60's. it is a bit outside the scope of your book. >> i was say that in their interesting source on soviet aid to china, what caused the collapse of this relationship at
the economic level is another book in the same series as mine by austin jesuit. i forgot what it is called. it deals with the sino-soviet split. what is interesting in his book. he deals with -- not only does question of the soviet leaving the chinese drive, it also has a lot to do with how the soviets were implementing there a projects on the ground. i like his interpretation in part because it just more closely with mine. a lot of what he is saying in the book is the soviets were sometimes imperious and arrogant and how the infamous a decade project. i don't think this is the only point he makes but i think it is something that comes across in his book. these relations within a project
and how the soviets and to the chinese, this is in some ways a cause of nationalist resentment. i think that gels with status and prestige. how easy it was for new china to feel slighted. i put a heavy emphasis on that. i think the economic dimensions make it hard to parse that out. it is hard to get very good economic data on it. you have what the chinese were claiming and what the soviets were claiming. i'll think the record is very complete on that issue. >> a colleague of greg's at george washington university,
hope harrison, thank you, it was a wonderful book talk. our students are lucky to have you as a lecturer and i'm looking forward to reading the book. i too am going to ask -- my question comes from the soviet angle, it is ultimately about china. listening to it, it is so similar to the story of the soviets. wanted to be seen as a post as with the u.s.. you could say that about russia now. this is an old story. it is the underdog, they're frustrated. they wanted to be seen more as an equal for the power the team to beat the world number one. there were moments in my research on the soviet side of the cold war where they would step back from doing risky things with allies that might have antagonized the u.s..
that moment when soviet u.s. relations were getting better, they were having negotiations. the soviets would sometimes be more careful. did you find that in chinese documents -- i know you stopped the book in the early 70's. as you get to the early 70's, did you see some evidence of them pulling back a little bit in any of these activities in the third world russian mark they felt the bigger thing was relations with the u.s. or not? >> i would say that that is a very good question. i think what you say about the soviets doesn't surprise me. i think i have written a little bit about status. it has been very emphasized in diplomatic history. the china ever pull back in its relation with the third world?
i think intended not to pull back. it did change its tone. that was moments where it believes that it could enhance its status if it changed its tone. after the korean war, china really want to be seen as a peaceful neighbor among other asian and african countries. a lot of the rhetoric shifted. all the time and support for slightly different discourse on how china was going to be a peaceful neighbor and short china was open to piece from the united states.
this did work in ways because they were right. the united states was trying to isolate the united states and convince people that all of the talk about wanted to pursue peace was a centrifuge. during the 70's, i think one of the arguments i make in the book is that nixon, -- i think i come across as being surprisingly prone ex-kissinger in this book. it was not my intention. i think that opening china was a very important moment that changed the world. i think what nixon understood was the importance of status to china in a way that his predecessors did not.
when he reached out to china he really found ways that china could seek rapprochement with the united states while retaining their status. the chinese would make these strong pro-afro-asian anti-imperialist statements in the united nations. kissinger would say yes, we realize you have to do that. you need to maintain your credibility in the third world. nixon & kissinger actually want china to maintain their credibility in the third world at this point. they think it could be useful against the soviet union. it is a complicated dynamic. they are always central to chinese foreign-policy. there was a changing and moderating of its tone.
>> there is one dimension -- i do islamic history. i spent a bunch of time in sudan in the early 60's. it was one of the countries that had recognized the people's republic. it had a very small embassy. one of the things that i found interesting was that sudan had a dirt well organized, very influential communist party. the chinese embassy people seemed to have no interest at all in working with the local communist party. it really wasn't particularly pro-soviet.
my question is -- dion -- >> i think that is a good question. i am sure your recollections would be very fascinating to hear more about. let me say, this is the. there. one of the reasons that china kept a relatively hands-off attitude toward the communist parties was because it was very genuinely interested in trying to build trust. a lot of these countries, especially ones in the middle east and the arab world and africa, and the established relationship with china, what is
china going to do, it is going to -- they were revolutionary. china, at the time was trying to say to these countries we are going to overthrow your government, we are just interested in peaceful, normal relations. this was an important aspect. during the 60's, it's policy shifts a little bit and it becomes -- it takes a more favorable attitude toward some. not all. they gave complete support to the communist party.
if you might have normal diplomatic relations where you could compete, i don't know if china was very competitive with the united states in terms of its overall influence in sudan, it was a country that wanted to have normal relations. it wanted to have some semblance of influence where it -- i think
there are a few chinese cultural programs that were carried out in sudan. i think it does want to do those kind of things. that is more important than party to party relations. >> we are quickly running out of time, let's take a few questions. the gentleman on the gray jacket. >> my name is paul. i'm currently at gw. did this competition extend to latin america? if not, why not? >> you had a question? you raised your hand? microphone. yep. >> i from the university of maryland. i just got an email from a colleague. you're talking about africa telling me about an article in the new york times. i knew that when i was there, the question is where they there in the.
you studied and the issue is that the chinese do not use local labor. they bring in the labor from china and that has caused resentment. was that going on when you were there? >> there are two gentlemen here. >> thank you. first a question about the ideas. i think that maybe for african countries, this relationship is an touch your list. the chinese are not interested to establish class or relationships. i think it might be different. facing the challenge would be the big problem for the situation in asia. there are lots of students here.
>> the final question goes to the gentleman over here. >> i'm an asian pacific strategist. it seems this is a current reaction to tiananmen. could you contrast that? >> very challenging, i will do my best. latin america, china was very interested in latin america, i tried to focus my book not just on where china was interested in or where it carried out initiatives but where the u.s. also saw china as a threat. it was only in areas where there was competition that i focused on. i don't think there was really competition between the u.s. and china and latin america, at least during the. i'm talking about. the u.s. was much more concerned about fidel castro and the soviets in latin america. the example about namibia, this issue about china bringing its own labor, i think that is
something that has become more and more of a problem in contemporary chinese projects than it was in the 60's. i think during the 60's, you are right, indicates the case of the trans am railway, there was thousands of chinese workers that were sent. i think there is also some appreciation in ways that these workers were toughing it out in africa. the reaction was a little bit more mixed. i would say that if you like at the range of african opinions about china and chinese aid in africa, today, they are very diverse. there are some african leaders denouncing china and saying it is no different from the imperialists, the others are praising china and it really is a model that is different from the west and it is a country we can trust. i think that is also an issue. i think there is a really
complex range of attitudes toward china and africa. there is some good writing about this. the point is that china was arrogant and how it treated other countries in asia, especially southeast asia and korea. what i argue in this book is that it is not that china completely abandons this idea of itself as a middle kingdom, it was to be respected and admired and emulated and yes, even looked at as a big brother. the difference is that there is no formal difference. they are not going back to the old tributary relationship with north korea or north vietnam. especially at the time, north koreans were very sensitive. they had this notion of saturday, serving the great. the chinese were generally aware of it.
it is complicated. there are times where you read things that they said and he seems to want to lord it over his allies in asia. there is also other instances. this is one of the things i'm working on now in my work on china and north korea. i'm actually arguing that a sign of north korean relations were a lot that are an closer than many historians have made them out to be. the conflict between the two has been overstated. you will have to wait another six or seven years for that one. [laughter] african student in china, that is another important part. i don't deal that much with african student in china or the united states. there are some memoirs by africans who studied in china. i didn't find a whole lot in the
chinese archives, that is a reason why i don't talk too much about that in my book. it depends what kind of student, there were some students going to chinese universities. there were some african pod racers were tending parties close. i think that bob, one of the leaders in the zanzibar revolution had studied for a time in china, i do with figures like that in the book. i think this is something that it's to be explored further. -- needs to be explored further. there are probably some materials in african students in china. if you really dig into the provincial archives i got into the foreign minister archives easily. some provincial archives are in china but there are some that are very hard, even if you are a
chinese citizen, they are hard. for an american scholar, they are especially hard. i think there are things that are for people who can get into some of the archives that i had trouble with. that is definitely a topic that you can do more with. the last question about posters and signs, the chinese foreign ministry archive does have a lot of pictures, they don't have a lot of propaganda posters. there is actually a propaganda museum in shanghai that has a lot of these propaganda posters if that is what you're looking for. they do have pictures, they actually wouldn't let me use any of the pictures in my book. i asked them for permission and they said sorry, of course, christian was mentioning that the last time i went to china should do research in the foreign ministry archive was
2012. then, 2013, the archives really started tightening and they started restricting control, reclassifying a lot of the documents they had declassified. i did the research until 2012. i spent a couple of years figuring out what i was saying. by the time the book was in press, they were our british saying pictures, no way, you can't even see the documents anymore. i don't think they ever had a lot of posters, it was more photos of visiting different places. >> unfortunately, on that note, we have to draw this to a close. we could have gone on all night. the book is available for purchase and signing outside of these doors. please join us for a reception next store sponsored by the university of north carolina press. the publisher of the book. please come back next week when for our final seminar of the
season, jason parker from texas a&m will be speaking on his new book arts, mines, boys, the formation of the third world. a key participants in the seminar today. thank you greg kaczynski -- gregg brazinsky. [applause] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org]