Through viewing China's foreign policy under the CCP from 1949 to 1991 in the context of the Cold War, it can be seen that China's hostile relationship with the liberal-capitalist USA was brought upon by China's strive for hegemony and the clashing of capitalist vs. communist ideologies through different foreign policies. Throughout the era of 1949 to 1991, China came into conflict with the liberal-capitalist USA and the Marxist-Leninist USSR. During this period there was a changing of relationships between China and the liberal-capitalist USA. This was primarily the cause of China wanting hegemony, meaning the domination by one country over a group of others, against USA and the clashing of capitalist vs. communist ideologies through their foreign policies, which created a period of tensions and hostility. .
Of all the western imperial powers, the USA acted most favourably towards China in the first half of the 20th century. Throughout the 1950's, the two countries China and the USA, inhabited two different camps in a rigidly polarized world separated by an iron curtain. The US was the leader of a global alliance of capitalist states created to prevent the spread of communism, whereas China cast its lot with the rival block headed by the Soviet Union, which supported communism. In the post-Cold War world no power can challenge the US. Europe is an ally; so is Japan. India is fixated on South Asia. Russia is in temporary decline. In American eyes, only China looms as a likely future rival. Strident voices argue that the US should prevent China's power before it's too late. .
"What do the Chinese Communists want? They don't just want Quemoy and Matsu. They don't just want Formosa (Taiwan). They want the world".
- Statement from Richard Nixon in 1960's Kennedy-Nixon President TV debates in Waugh,S., (2001), Essential Modern World History, Thomas Nelson: UK.
Yet if the US were to try and contain China, it would need the support of at least some South East Asian states.