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This essay reveals how Pan-Asianism was transformed from a potentially subversive ideal opposed to capitalism and Western colonialism during the Republican period into a movement championing capitalist accumulation under US domination after 1949. Focusing on Zhang Junmai’s career as an anti-Communist social democrat, the paper argues that whereas Asia’s supposed cultural commonality and superiority facilitated a critique of Western political and economic norms in the first half of the twentieth century, the Cold War imperative of containing Communist influence rendered this culturalism complicit in US strategic designs regarding Asia. Furthermore, the hope for an egalitarian economy and an international order based on altruistic reciprocity gave way to state-led developmentalism and market relations between Asian nation-states. Without a vision of overcoming the West’s political and economic hegemony, Zhang’s Pan-Asianism was reduced to hollow celebration of Oriental spirituality and of other anti-Communist Asian leaders.