May 28, 2023

The New Cold War that Threatens the World

Vijay Prashad

IN July 2020, a group of us joined together to create the No Cold War platform ( We drafted a statement with a strong title: A New Cold War against China is against the interests of humanity. The statement reads: “We note the increasingly aggressive statements and actions being taken by the US government in regard to China. These constitute a threat to world peace and are an obstacle to humanity successfully dealing with extremely serious common issues which confront it such as climate change, control of pandemics, racist discrimination and economic development.

“We therefore believe that any New Cold War would run entirely counter to the interests of humanity. Instead, we stand in favour of maximum global cooperation in order to tackle the enormous challenges we face as a species.

“We therefore call upon the US to step back from this threat of a Cold War and also from other dangerous threats to world peace it is engaged in including: withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces agreement; withdrawal from the Paris Climate Change Accords; and its increasing disengagement from UN bodies. The US should also stop pressuring other countries to adopt such dangerous positions.

“We support China and the US basing their relations on mutual dialogue and centring on the common issues which unite humanity.”

Thousands of people signed the statement, including Celso Amorim (advisor to President Lula of Brazil), Sevim Dağdelen (chair of the Die Linke parliamentary group in the German Foreign Affairs Committee), Irvin Jim (general secretary of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa), N Ram (former editor-in-chief of The Hindu), and Zhang Weiwei (who had been the translator of Deng Xiaoping). During the pandemic, No Cold War held a series of webinars to campaign against the US hybrid war on China and the threats that the provocations by the US government might lead to a military confrontation against China. The US had already begun to deepen its anti-China military alliances through the Quad (with Australia, India, and Japan) and through the AUKUS (with Australia and the United Kingdom) as well as to ramp up its military forces in its bases (from Japan to Australia) and through the presence of its naval fleet. Over the course of the past two years, these alliances and threats have increased, with the US provoking conflicts over Taiwan and the Korean peninsula.

The most recent provocation has come during the G7 meeting that was held in Hiroshima, Japan in the third week of May. Here, despite differences between the G7 countries, these western powers and Japan made open threats against China, including accusations of ‘economic coercion’ that have been denied by Beijing. In January 2023, the US announced that it would be opening new bases in northern Philippines, which would allow it to move troops rapidly to Taiwan in case of any Chinese movement to unify their country. At the same time, the US promised Japan that the US would help it expand its own military capacity, with the express interest of getting Japan to intervene in Taiwan from the north. These two moves – the new bases in the Philippines and the aggressive statements from the US and Japan – raise the temperature around Taiwan, which stated US policy understands is part of China. Responding to these moves, Mao Ning of the Chinese ministry of foreign affairs said, ‘The US side, out of selfish interests, holds on to the zero-sum mentality and keeps strengthening military deployment in the Asia-Pacific. This would escalate tensions and endanger peace and stability in the region. Regional countries need to remain vigilant and avoid being coerced or used by the US’. Mao Ning’s comments were directed as much to Washington as to Manila, Seoul, and Tokyo. But no one listened. South Korea’s President Yoon Suk-yeol called for both the development of nuclear missiles by his country and the placement of US missiles on the Korean peninsula; President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. of the Philippines initially backed the US plans to build bases in his country’s northern islands and then backed off by saying that these bases cannot be used in an attack on China (but did not specify if he meant that they cannot be used if the US moves on Taiwan); Japan’s prime minister Fumio Kishida has urged the expansion of his country’s military to plan for a ‘Taiwan-related’ war. These are all dangerous moves, which place the eastern flank of Asia on a hair-trigger.

At the close of the G7 meeting, the No Cold War platform released a statement on the summit and its implications (‘At G7 Summit, Hiroshima Once Again Used for Cold War Agenda’). The statement noted: “The 49th Group of Seven (G7) summit took place this past weekend in Hiroshima, Japan, from 19-21 May. Leaders from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States gathered to discuss and coordinate their global strategies, with China and Russia at the top of the agenda.

“The summit took place at the very site where, on 6 August 1945, the US dropped a nuclear bomb, killing approximately 70,000 people instantly (the death toll rose to roughly 140,000 by the end of the year). That horrific act of violence – intended to send a warning to the Soviet Union – ushered in the Cold War; it is a disturbing historical parallel that, 78 years later, the US and its allies returned to Hiroshima to ramp up a New Cold War against China and Russia. 

“At the summit, the G7 leaders prepared a ‘unified response’ against what they term China’s ‘economic coercion’, unveiling a new ‘Coordination Platform’ to this end. This initiative is the latest step in a years-long diplomatic campaign by the Biden administration to pressure its allies to support its tech war against China, in which the US has enacted numerous trade and investment restrictions seeking to ‘kneecap’ China’s advanced technological industries. This year, both ​​US Senator Bob Menendez, Democratic Party chairperson of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and former UK Prime Minister Liz Truss have called for the formation of an ‘economic NATO’ and coordinated sanctions against China. 

“For the United States to talk of ‘economic coercion’ when it has, by far, the most extensive track record of imposing unilateral economic sanctions and coercive measures against other countries – including the six decades-long blockade against Cuba – is a most astonishing display of hypocrisy. 

“Meanwhile, the G7 leaders declared that they would tighten sanctions against Russia and continue to ‘support Ukraine for as long as it takes’. With Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in attendance, US President Joe Biden pledged an additional $375 million in additional military aid to the country – on top of the $37 billion that the US has already provided since the start of the war – and also gave permission to G7 members to send their stocks of US-made F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine.

“It is disappointing that the G7 leaders did not use this opportunity to put forward any serious proposals to resolve the war in Ukraine and establish a lasting peace, but rather doubled down on their commitment to prolong the conflict. While the G7 attempted to court the Global South by inviting leaders from countries such as Brazil, India, and Indonesia, the perspective of developing countries on the conflict was not taken seriously at the summit. In fact, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, an outspoken advocate for dialogue and a peaceful resolution of the war, was snubbed by Zelenskyy despite making repeated efforts to meet.

“Instead, the United States and its allies appear intent on provoking another major power conflict – with China. As part of its broader efforts to militarise the Asia-Pacific, in the lead-up to the G7 summit, it was widely reported that the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) is planning to open a ‘liaison office’ in Japan, the first of its kind in the region. 

“The G7 leaders should use their experience in Hiroshima to reflect on the immense human cost of the first Cold War and abandon their efforts to revive such conflicts today. The world needs solutions to address the urgent crises of climate change, poverty, hunger, and development, not divisive political agendas that push humanity down the path of war and destruction.”