tv U.S.- China Competition During the Cold War CSPAN September 16, 2017 2:20pm-3:51pm EDT
up next, 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 conversation that we in the historical profession inevitably have -- what it is 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.
they looked at a combination of puzzlement and disappointment. 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." the idea is that i should be 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 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.
in 2006 to 2007, i 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. thye declassify them in several batches. the first was from 1949-1954, then there were subsequent batches that covered 1955-59, then 1960 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 flew in 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 the theme of this book was going to be. what was at the heart of this competition, what was it really about? i found that a difficult challenge to write about. was it economic? 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. that wasn't a good answer. was it geo-strategy and national security? this too was obviously a consideration at some point. there were also a lot of far-flung activities that the united states and china engaged
in to prevent each other from gaining influence. national interest and security ngo strategy also had their limitations. their relationship with each other went far beyond national interest. i thought about this and i wrote chapters and i rewrote chapters and i threw away chapters. then i realized some of the stuff i was throwing away was not actually that bad, so i picked it back up again. i went back and forth finally, i had an epiphany about this book, one afternoon, when i was parking in the costco parking lot, where all the wealthy lobbyists are parking their cars.
there in the middle, is the professor brazinsky-mobile -- my 2002 toyota corolla. i started to feel some sense of inadequacy. i thought, why? i realized that our quest for status is a fundamental part of the human condition. it influences on us, it influences our political leaders, it influences our countries. i started to think do nations like us think in terms of status when they create their foreign-policy. what i am not claiming is that i invented the idea that status is
relevant to foreign-policy. in fact, there has been a significant political science and theory literature on this. did what mosti historians do when i saw a writing by political scientists, and that is completely ignore everything the political scientists are saying. i realized what i found wanting in their definition of status was that it insisted status meant a position within a formal hierarchy. this did not fit china's aspirations. china's view of its status in the third world and what it aspired to, was more like this, comrades. , it is admired, it is important, there is no
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-soviet split occurred, then it would become engaged in a protracted rivalry with the soviet union as well. china always claimed 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 to create a formal hierarchy. in this book, i tried to talk about status in terms of how chinese and american officials saw it rather than how political scientists have seen it. i draw very loosely on their theories.
read the book, you will i am not a political scientist. i don't have the independent and dependent variables, and untried -- i do not try to have operationalized status or do anything crazy like that. i argue this two reasons this was important to china. as a lot of stuff about the a lot of it is nonsense. this one point i agree with, that is the legacy of national humiliation. this has been emphasized -- this idea that china was once important factor in international affairs. but it had been invaded and inbed of its rightful place the international community. chinese leaders, i argue during the cold war -- so the third world in particular as a region
where they could regain their lost status. they felt a sense of communion with other victims of imperialism. you can still see that today. never forget national humiliation, revitalized china -- this is elementary schoolchildren today, foisting a banner with this slogan. another reason this was important to china, the center of chinese foreign policy was oh -- was always mao zedong. mao zedong linked his personal status to the status of the people's republic of china. was an insult to china and vice to mao- and insult zedong was an insult to china
and vice versa. often when china made efforts to gain status in the developing world, these efforts were geared not only to raising china's prestige, but to raising mao and enhance his xtatus as a leading mar theoretician. how did the u.s. like china's efforts to improve its status in the third world. not very much. americans, i argue, were generally very competent in -- very confident 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 does not
-- did not make the competition less important. i think it was actually this perception that influenced a american policies, and led to very expensive and some -- american commitments to trying to block chinese influence in the third world. in the book, i look at several different kinds of competition between the united states and china. first -- i will summarize them briefly. in the book itself -- if you really want this in detail, you you have to buy it. what were these forms of competition? one, diplomatic china was a new state in 1949 -- it was the first inaugurated of course in 1949. for a new state like china, just achieving basic diplomatic relations with other countries was important. -- china tries to
just establish basic relations with afro-asian states. the united states does everything it can to prevent it from doing so. cultivate aried to positive impression of itself at major international conferences. these included conferences such and,e geneva conference perhaps most importantly, the bandon -- the bandung conference committee after-asian conference in 1955. this is speaking before this conference in 1955, where he made a very important performance that really did raise china's standing along -- him him a lot of effort-asian countries that didn't have relations with it before the conference. at these conferences, beijing
often represented itself as a peaceful nation that had also imperialism 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, sending diplomats abroad. china constantly tried to raise its international profile for sending its representatives -- to asia, africa, different afro-asian states. this included of course, zhou enlai's famous 1964 visit to africa, regarded as it bold and important, also successful trip at the time. what did the united states do in response to this? states did everything possible to undermine chinese diplomacy. countriesed neutral
not to establish relations with the peoples republic of china, and when china participated in conferences such as geneva and bandung, the united dates tried to do everything that it could to minimize the importance of these conferences and to limit china's role. in fact, there's this famous story about the 1954 geneva conference, when zhou enlai approaches secretary of state john foster dulles, and tries to shake his hand and dulles apparently disses him and walks briskly past him. there is some debate about whether this of event actually occurred. occur, it isdn't clear to see why it took on such powerful emotional and symbolic resonance.
another form of competition i write about in this book is cultural. cultural competition i argue -- by its very nature it involves , itself with presenting a positive image of your state, and a negative image of your rivals state to the greatest degree possible. i focus on a lot of the -- different things, talking about cultural competition, propaganda -- one particular thing i found interesting in cultural competition between the united states and china was they both emphasized each other's treatments of their own ethnic minorities. both china and the united states had in very different ways built continental empires that forcefully incorporated different kinds of ethnic minorities. what chinese propaganda in asian and african countries often used
the civil rights struggle in the united states, which was gaining momentum of 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 ?eoples one of the things that china often did, and invited disenfranchised african-american radicals, such as w.e.b. dubois . this picture is of him with a high-ranking communist chinese party official. he visited china when he was about 90. imagine that. he was taken around to african embassies in china. he basically spoke about how well treated he was in china,
how awful things were for african-americans back in the united states. so, dubois also, he even wrote a poem, something like, i praise china. so china really established bonds with -- a limited number of african-american radicals. it did try to use them 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 especially muslims and tibetans. suppression of the 1955 uprising in tibet was a
gift that kept on giving for american propagandists. the usa made films and arranged for them to be shown in theaters throughout parts of asia and africa. this is actually a somewhat effective strategy. a lot of the regions that the united states and china were competing in in south asia, southeast asia, africa, were either heavily muslim, or heavily buddhist. this was an important counter dimension. who treats its ethnic minorities worse? 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 china used different strategies for promoting its influence in asia and africa at different times. sometimes it focused more on the diplomacy and tried to present an image of itself as a peaceful afro-asian country, sometimes it presented a more revolutionary image of itself, especially sino-soviet split, when the chinese want to emphasize they were the more radical, the ones that truly supported revolutionaries, and that moscow didn't. but 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 for policy -- china's foreign policy in vietnam and laos, and china's relationship with ho chi minh, and -- there's good literature on that. i cover that, 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 materials that i found were 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 an exaggerated view of chinese influence in the third world. here's one of the places where this becomes particularly important. robert mcnamara, 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 of course -- but 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 asia, even throughout the world, played a very important role, not only in america's decision to escalate the war in vietnam, but also in a number of other 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 competition. talk about this, economic
competition, the first question that people ask is how could china have possibly competed with united states economically during the 1950's and 60's? and -- china was in desperate poverty for part of this time. of course, the great way 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, china was actually highly strategic about its aid, and also surprisingly successful. in fact, i would say china's economic aid programs were significantly more successful than its diplomacy and support for revolutions.
china focused its aid on poor countries in africa. these were not well understood by the united states and where the chinese believed they were in a position to have an impact. the idea was that chinese aid projects would be more than just simple aid projects. they would be models. be models of the virtues of sino-african cooperation. they would show how chinese aid was more selfless and altruistic than american aid or soviet aid. this would in turn, ultimately create a model of economic cooperation -- both sino-african cooperation and south south economic cooperation.
that other countries in africa and asia would seek to emulate. when china implemented its aid project, it tried to assure that they looked different from american and soviet aid projects. 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 fields beside africans." some praised the chinese just for this. it enabled some people on the ground to proceed the chinese as brethren. the obvious criticism is are you getting this from chinese sources? of course the chinese sources say that. 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 believed, they argued this was in contrast to u.s. aid projects which frequently forced countries to contract with american firms or buy american goods. the most famous of these projects, i won't talk in great detail about specific chinese aid projects. if you want something that is free and gives more detail, i published a paper here at the wilson center about chinese aid plantations. if you want something really specific, you can go to the international history project. the most famous of the chinese aid projects were trans am railway which created a land
tanzania. 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. the tanzanians desperately wanted it and 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 -- to counter not the economic impact of china's aid to counter the political impact of chinese aid. for instance, when china built
tansam railway, the united states try to build the great north road as a market based capitalist alternative to the ame more state driven tans railway. these are the kind of competitions i highlight. who won? in reality, neither side won. 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 craved as a leader among afro-asian countries. why was this? 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 sought to bring afro-asian countries together under anti-colonial nationalism and revolution. it often oversimplified 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 maximize their own independence and autonomy. another reason that china did
not gain the status that it craved is that china was its own worst enemy. china's revolutionary zeal was a double-edged sword and a mixed blessing. it sometimes lead to self-confident displays of chinese achievements at nationbuilding. 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 promote a afro-asian second conference. the idea was that in 1964, and 1965, china started advocating for a second afro-asian conference to be held.
the idea was that it would be a 1955 b follow-up to the andung 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 that were open to having a conference but they didn't want to involve themselves in china's feuds with the united states and 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 worked 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 instead of a triumph. china have been too strongly insistent 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 domineering. it did not gain prestige for itself through these policies. 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 speak for 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 or the south china sea. during the last two decades, i think we have seen competition between the united states and china reemerge. it has reemerged in many of the same regions where the two competed so vociferously in the cold war. now the competition takes on a different form. i argue this is not really a case of, as karl marx would say, history repeating itself but more so as mark twain is reputed to have said, history rhymes. some parallels are that as with cold war, asia and africa remain
critical and central to china's effort to reinvent its position in world affairs. next week in beijing they are going to hold a formal conference to launch this one vote, one road 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 or responses. at least it was measured before november of 2016. even 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 was that wikileaks got a hold of this document. it is one of the documents 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. i am not saying of weight competition. , wenternational relations 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 -- economic interests 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 few if any of the problems of newly independent afro-asian countries in the cold war. i think you can make the argument that 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.
newlarly, i do not think competition is 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 there 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 archives are now closed.
they are no longer accessible to researchers. many a dissertation was cut off half way. i should say that gregg has been enourmously generous about sharing the documents. we are hoping for better access into beijing archives. you had access to the foreign ministry archives. mao zedong was central to this. the party archives remain closed. to what extent does that limit your findings here and maybe as side venue 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, the sino-soviet dynamic was missing. could you bring that into the narrative of your narrative? third question. it occurred to me, one of the reasons why american policy and -- in lots of places around the world, including vietnam, had tremendous difficulties is for our lack of understanding. -- you extent did china
give a positive review of china's engagement with the third world. to what extent was that based on a greater cultural and economic literacy of these countries compared to the united states and other powers? gregg: 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 in vietnam. this is not only the party archives but perhaps also the pla archives. there are many archives in china that are still not accessible.
there is still a lot of material in the united states that is not accessible. 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? [laughter] 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. you had the foreign ministry's analysis of these meetings, sometimes you also had mao zedong or zhou enlai commentary on this.
think you can also make the argument that some of the things these documents show is zhou centrality in the political 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. many scholars who work on cold war india say if you have that you do not 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. those are excited -- those are
cited. i tried to use as many international sources as possible. i couldn't go to every single country where china and united states competed. 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 my book stimulated some of this in china. i have seen more and more chinese graduate students saying
, ok we have the chinese but 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. i did not talk about it a lot today. i talk about it in the book. i talk about the relationship between sino-soviet rivalry and sino-american rivalry. china and the soviet union are relatively close. what happens is, i intimated this, after the split, china starts to support revolutionaries in the third world even more strongly. it wants to convince other afro-asian countries that china is a real friend of liberation
movements and the soviet union soviets were more cautious in supporting these revolutionaries. my argument is that this actually made the sino-u.s. rivalry even more intense. americans could realize there was this increasing radicalization of chinese foreign-policy and that the chinese cannot be controlled as much by the soviet union. 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 to many american policymakers, chinese activities
in southeast asian and africa -- become as or more worrying than soviet activities. 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 that we could cooperate against the chinese. 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? -- how well did china understand these countries? you said i create a generally positive image. i wouldn't say that it is constantly a positive image. of chinese activism in the third world. i would say there were areas where chinese -- where china succeeded and places where the
chinese did appeal to afro-asian peoples. my point is that they also kept ruining it. you see this in china's diplomacy today as well. during the 90's, there was this idea of chinese peaceful rise and improving relations between china and many of its southeast asian neighbors. in the last decade, they ruined it as they became more zealously nationalistic. i think that is one of the areas where this book has a sobering lesson for the chinese and the united states. this was a dynamic. countries china understands better than others. in asia, there is a better understanding of cambodia or vietnam. some of the conversations with
african revolutionaries are actually quite funny. you can see that the chinese didn't know who these guys were and what they were asking for. a lot of times they would say, you are revolutionary and they bring them to china. sometimes they would say yes, we support mao zedong. they realized this is how you get chinese aid. you praised mao zedong. 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 in its woo african nationalists seeking decolonization. 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 1960's, the treatment of tibet, i assume they do not advertise the millions of death with the great leap forward. they approach third world
leaders or would be leaders, are they aware that what they are doing is shooting themselves in the foot or engaging in practices that may not help them achieve their purpose? gregg: absolutely. i think the chinese certainly realize that the events in tibet were a problem. there's a part of the book where i talk about how zhou enlai would go around to different 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. you were victims of colonialism
you should understand that the legacy of colonialism is creating all of these internal tensions in our society. there's a lot of chinese propaganda, more simple propaganda that tried to paper over the problem. a lot of chinese magazines -- 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 -- saying that mao zedong was just like abraham lincoln because he liberated the slaves. --aham lincoln liberating liberated the slaves in the united states, mao zedong ended slavery in tibet.
china was aware that this was a problem. they had 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 did go to tanzania and do a story about the railroad in 1971. 14,000 chinese workers to build every square inch of the railroad. every mile of track. i wonder if the collapse of that
which happened years later was a big setback for the chinese, do they feel they had blown it or or did they just let it go? gregg: 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 built a lot of textile mills. 10 years later, they were not running at anything close to operational capacity. the plantations i talk about, one of the things i talk about in this 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 politics at the time.
sometimes there were leaders who were left pathetic to china. for instant -- for instance, in mali, the government was very close to china, it got overthrown in 1968. 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, south south cooperation, all aid will be mutually beneficial, interest free loans, you see some of this going on. a lot of 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 -- of what china was doing during the. i covered in this book, which 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 by building matchstick factories and tea plantations. there were also a lot of internal dynamics in the african countries that inhibited growth. i think the fact that these economic aid projects didn't produce long-term prosperity in africa, i do not think the chinese completely got the blame for it. i think some africans became completely disillusioned with aid. i had 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 generally disillusioned with economic aid. not necessarily saying this is because china was bad. at the time, they served the political purpose fairly well. >> all the way in the back, before you ask your question, just a note for those of you not familiar with the working paper,
you can access that paper for historical cultural project website. many of the documents, some of them and many others are on our digital archives at digitalarchive.org. both free to access and to download. >> i'm at the east-west center doing the work on u.s. and chinese aid. i looked at your book yesterday, it is fantastic. there is an area about 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 in the early 1960's, was that soviet union was bleeding china drive. one of the reasons was soviet loans 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. the marshall plan to china and how that affects the relationship. it is a bit outside the scope of your book. it would be fascinating to hear your reflections on it. gregg: 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 . 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 -- this question of the soviets bleeding the chinese dry 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 gels more closely with mine. a lot of what he is saying in the book is the soviets were sometimes imperious and arrogant in how they implemented their aid project. i don't think this is the only and how the soviets and to the
chinese, this is in some ways a cause of nationalist resentment. and i think that that sort of jails -- gels with what i wrote about with status and prestige. how easy it was for new china to feel slighted. in my own coverage of the split in the book, i put a heavy emphasis on that as well. i am actually, i think the economic dimensions make it hard to parse that out. it is hard to get very good economic data on it. because you have what the chinese were claiming and what the soviets were claiming. i do not think the record is very complete on that issue. >> in the front here. thank you.
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, but it is ultimately about china. listening to it, it is so similar to the story of the soviets. the search for status and wanting to be seen as the same as the u.s. you could say that about russia now. this is an old story. underdogs, 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, that as -- i know the you stop the book in early 1970's, that as you get to the early 1970's did you see some evidence of them pulling back a little bit in any of these activities in the third world, because they felt like the bigger thing was relations with the u.s. or not? gregg: 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. in terms of u.s. foreign relations and also people working on the soviet union. did china ever pull back its
relation with the third world? i would say it generally tended not to pull back, but it did change its tone in moments where it thought it could enhance its status if it changed its tone. for instance after the korean , war, china really want to be -- wanted to be seen as a peaceful neighbor among other asian and african countries. so a lot of the rhetoric shifted from, we must fight and confront the united states in the third world all the time, to a slightly different discourse about how china was going to be a peaceful neighbor and sure, china was open to peace with the united states, it was the united states not open to talk with china. and this did work in some ways, because they were right. the united states was trying to isolate the united states and convince people that all of the talk from china about wanting 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 pro-nixon and kissinger in this book. it was not my intention. but i do think that opening china was a very important moment that changed the world. and i think what nixon understood, he understood 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 theining its status in third world. there are interesting conversations between kissinger
and the chinese, where chinese would make these strong pro-afro-asian anti-imperialist statements in the united nations. and kissinger would say yeah, we realize you have to do that, because you need to maintain credibility in the third world. want toinger and nixon china to maintain their credibility in the third world at this point because they think it could be useful against the soviet union. so it is a really complicated dynamic. so i think the third world and afro asian countries, they are central to chinese foreign-policy. they do not pull back. it is a changing and moderating of its tone. i would argue it that way. >> in the front here. >> thank you. it is very interesting. >> can you introduce yourself?
>> i am john. i do it islamic history at georgetown. i spent a bunch of time in sudan in the early 60's. and the sudan was one of the countries that had recognized the people's republic. that was in 1959. it had a very small embassy. and i ended up getting to know the young man that seem to be the political affairs person, because he and i were struggling with it learning arabic and things like that. one of the things that i found interesting was that sudan had a very well organized very , influential communist party. it was a well organized communist party and it was active in politics and so on. the chinese embassy people seemed to have no interest at all in working with the local communist party.
and it was not because the local party was pro-soviet, because it was not particularly pro-soviet. my question then is, what do you think was china's relationship to indigenous communist parties in this kind of cold war context? gregg: i think that is a very good question and i am sure that your regulations would be very fascinating to hear more about. -- first, let me say this is the time you were there, one of the reasons china kept a relatively hands-off attitude towards the communist parties was because it was very genuinely interested in trying to build trust. right? a lot of these countries, especially ones in the middle east and the arab world and africa, they did not know a lot about china and they were concerned that if they established relations with china, what is china going to
do, they are going to enter the communist party and spread it to their countries. they were nationalists, but they were not revolutionary. so china at the time was trying to say to these countries, we are not going to overthrow your government, we are just interested in peaceful, normal relations. right? and this was, as i said, in the 1950's and up until the soviet split, this was an important aspect of china's policy toward gaining prestige. during the 60's, its policy shifts a little bit and it becomes -- it takes a more favorable attitude toward some. but not all. of the communist parties on the ground. i would also say, if it was a country that was hostile toward china, for instance thailand. then they gave, you know, complete support to the communist party. and wanted the ccp to be a
model. so it depended a lot on the country. if they knew it was a lost cause , support the communist party. if you might have normal, diplomatic relations where you could compete -- and i do not know if china was very competitive with the united states in terms of its overall influence in sudan, but it was a country that wanted very much to have normal relations with, where it wanted to have a semblance of influence. where it wanted to carry out -- i think there are a few chinese cultural programs that were carried out in sudan. so i think it does want to do those kinds of things and that is more important to it than party to party relations. yes. >> ok. we are quickly running out of time, so let's take a few questions. the gentleman with the gray
jacket. >> my name is paul. i'm currently at gw. could question. did this competition extend to latin america? and if not, why not? >> hold on. you had a question. earlier you raise your hand. microphone? green sweater. >> my name is claudine. i from the university of maryland. i just got an email from a colleague. so you are talking about africa, where i had my fulbright, tell me about an article in the new york times about the chinese building in new via -- i knew that when i was there. my question is, where they there in the time you studied is, they did not use local labor. they bring in the labor from china and that has caused resentment. was that going on when you were there? >> thank you.
there are two gentlemen here. ok. go first. >> thank you. i am a phd student. about the question ideas about china and its status. maybe for african countries this kind of relationship is anti-hierarchy. chinese were not interested to establish class or relationships. i think it might be different. for east asia. interested in diplomacy in asia. [indiscernible]
facing the challenge would be the big problem for the situation in asia. so my second question is, since you talk about cultural competition -- >> briefly. >> ok. did you look at the experience in china and the u.s., during the cold war there were a lot of students there. >> thank you. you can pass the microphone down. >> david. retired from the library of congress. i saw some of the similar thatrs with the slogans had photographs of the region, collected. i wonder if before you researched in the foreign ministry archives, if you ever checked with the library of congress with the print and
photograph collection? the change of tones in the chinese propaganda from the anti-american imperialism, anti-colonialism, to peaceful ones, did you ever see any slogan or posters in the foreign ministry archives? and if you did, what are the slogans? >> the final question goes to the gentleman over here. apologies to all of those i cannot call on. >> thank you. congratulations. my name is ben wilson i'm an , asian pacific strategist. i want you to elaborate on your sense of national humiliation, because everybody says -- is a reaction to 10 amend -- tiananmen. could you contrast that? >> ok.
you have two minutes to answer. gregg: yes. [laughter] gregg: i will do my best. latin america, china was very interested in latin america, but it was not -- 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. so it -- they both, so it was only in areas where there was competition that i focused on. and i do not think there was really competition between the u.s. and china in latin america, at least during the time i was talking about. the u.s. was much more concerned about fidel castro and the extent 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, in the case of the trans am railway, there was thousands of chinese workers that were sent. i think there was also some appreciation in ways that these workers were toughing it out in africa. and you know, so there was, the reaction was a little bit more mixed. if you look at the range of african opinions about china and chinese aid in africa today, they are very diverse. you have some african leaders denouncing china and saying it is no different from the imperialists. and you have others praising china and saying yes 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 towards china in africa.
and there is some good writing about this. yes. and the point about that china was arrogant in how it treated other countries in asia, especially southeast asia and north 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 wants 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. -- deference. 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 a notion of serving the great. and the chinese were generally aware of it. it is complicated. because there are times where
saidead things that mao and he really seems like he wants 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 am actually arguing that the north korean relations were a lot better and closer than many historians have made them out to be. and that the conflict between the two of them has been overstated. so you will have to wait another six or seven years for that one. [laughter] students inan china, that is another important part. i don't deal that much with african students 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.
but there were, you know, i think it depends on what kind of student. there were some students going to chinese universities. there were some africans attending party schools, so i bob who wasigure, one of the leaders in the zanzibar revolution had studied for a time in china, i do with -- i do deal with figures like that in the book. i think this is something that needs to be explored further. there are probably some materials on african students in china. if you really dig into the provincial archives. i got into the foreign minister archives easily. and some of the provincial archives in china. but there are some provincial
archives that are 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 archives does have a number of pictures. they don't have a lot of propaganda posters. i think 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 to do research in the foreign ministry archive was 2012. archives013, the really started tightening and
they started restricting control, reclassifying a lot of the documents they had declassified. and so i was, you know, i did the research until 2012. then i spent a couple of years figuring out what i was saying and by the time the book was in press, they were already 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. but 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 door sponsored by the university of north carolina press. the publisher of the book. and the george washington university department of history. eric: come back next week when for our final seminar of the season, jason parker from texas a&m will be speaking on his new
"the formation of the third , world." thank you to our participants in the seminar today. and thank you gregg brazinsky. [applause] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] announcer: this weekend on american history tv. today at 6:00 p.m. on the civil war, the final military maneuvers that led