Repository logo

China-Taiwan Rivalry for ‘Representational Legitimacy’ among the 'Third Force' of Afro-Asia, 1949-1971



Change log


Chen, Hao 


In 1949, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) defeated the Kuomintang (KMT, Chinese Nationalist Party) and founded the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The KMT was thus forced to flee to Taiwan, but it continued its symbolic territorial claim to the mainland over which it no longer held effective control, as the Republic of China (ROC). Throughout the 1950s and the 1960s, the PRC/China and the ROC/Taiwan ferociously competed over their respective legitimacies of representing the Chinese nation-state internationally. This dissertation examines how this rivalry developed among the movement of Asian-African Internationalism for national liberation and postcolonial state building, a ‘Third Force’ between the United States and the Soviet Union. Under this context, both Beijing and Taipei contended (on their own terms) that they were the legitimate representation of ‘China’ as an Asian great power for anti-imperial solidarity. Centered on China and Taiwan’s involvements, my research covers several major events that were associated with or responded to Asian-African Internationalism, including the 1947 Asian Relations Conference, the 1955 Bandung Conference, the 1965 ill-fated Second Asian-African Conference, the Asian Peoples’ Anti-Communist League (APACL, founded in 1954) and the World Anti-Communist League (WACL) in 1967. Throughout these events, I demonstrate that both the KMT and the CCP began with a race to gain legitimacy as an anti-imperial Chinese nation-state, and then escalated and eventually evolved into a grander competition for the visions of postcolonial order, which transcended beyond the frontier of ‘China’. To Beijing, a postcolonial order should be one that assembled all newly independent Afro-Asian countries in a radical global united front, advanced a comprehensive challenge to all great powers (including both the United States and the Soviet Union), and then turned the Western-led postwar international structure upside down. To Taipei, a postcolonial order should be another international alliance that gathered both Afro-Asia and Western powers to resist Beijing and Moscow, the ‘Communist successors’ of historical imperialism. Ironically, neither side prevailed in their representational struggle among the ‘Third Force’, and their ultimate failure had contributed to crumbling the movement of Asian-African Internationalism after the mid-1960s.





Kushner, Barak


China, Taiwan, Representational Legitimacy, Third World, Cold War


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge