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Warnings about a second Cold War between liberal democracies and revisionist autocracies have been dismissed by sceptics as nothing more than right-wing scaremongering. They argue that despite his posturing and false bravado,President Trump has repeatedly proclaimed his affection for his authoritarian Chinese and Russian counterparts. And the trade conflict between the US and China will soon be resolved because it is in neither country’s interests to see the conflict prolonged or worsen since it would be mutually damaging.

But the sceptics are wrong on both accounts. US Vice-President Mike Pence’s October 4 address to the Hudson Institute. a US think-tank, is a sweeping indictment of Chinese expansionism and the excesses of the Chinese political system under President Xi Jinping. Largely ignored by other Australian media, Pence’s speech set the scene for an unprecedented, administration-wide push-back against China on multiple policy fronts redolent of Winston Churchill’s watershed March 5, 1946 “Iron Curtain” speech heralding the start of the first Cold War. Future historians will undoubtedly mark October 4 as the beginning of a second Cold War that will have enduring and equally profound global consequences.

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