More than three decades ago, the first Cold War ended with the euphoric toppling of the Berlin Wall as the people of the Eastern Bloc declared their freedom from the Soviet Empire. With even China and Vietnam pursuing market reforms, the stage appeared set for a utopian world of free trade, peace and laissez-faire capitalism. The end of history had arrived.
Just slightly three decades on in 2020, however, analysts are now proclaiming — not without some controversy — that the Cold War has returned. Where once lurked the Russian bear, now stands the Chinese dragon awoken from its centuries-long slumber — and it is in a foul mood as it engages in more snarls with the US.
On July 23, the US, accusing China of intellectual property theft, ordered the latter’s consulate in Houston to be shut. The next day, China retaliated, ordering the same on the US’ Chengdu consulate. This tit-for-tat move is but the latest friction point between the two.