America's Response to China

America's Response to China: A History of Sino-American Relations

Warren I. Cohen
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: 5
Pages: 344
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  • Book Info
    America's Response to China
    Book Description:

    America's Response to China has long been the standard resource for a succinct, historically grounded assessment of an increasingly complicated relationship. Written by one of America's leading diplomatic historians, this book analyzes the concerns and conceptions that have shaped U.S.-China policy and examines their far-reaching outcomes. Warren I. Cohen begins with the mercantile interests of the newly independent American colonies and discusses subsequent events up to the Tiananmen Square massacre and the policies of George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton. For this fifth edition, Cohen adds a chapter on America in the age of potential Chinese ascendance, envisioning future partnerships and the shrinking global influence of the United States. Trenchant and insightful, America's Response to China is critically important for understanding U.S.-China relations in the twenty-first century.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-52172-7
    Subjects: Political Science, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface to the Fifth Edition
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface to the Fourth Edition
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Preface to the Third Edition
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. Preface to the Second Edition
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  7. Preface to the First Edition
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  8. Acknowledgments to the Fifth Edition
    (pp. xix-xx)
  9. Romanization Table
    (pp. xxi-xxvi)
  10. Prologue: The Barbarians and the Tribute System
    (pp. 1-7)

    Boarding the hydrofoil at Hong Kong in 1965, I crossed the mouth of the Pearl River, which leads to Canton and, an hour and a quarter later, disembarked at Macao where the hills of mainland China (as stylized in reality as they appear in traditional Chinese landscapes) press toward you. Here, despite the imposing Basilica of Sao Paulo and an occasional Portuguese policeman, the awareness of China looming around me was inescapable. The fact that my presence on that dot of land was possible only at the plea sure of the People’s Republic intruded on my consciousness far more than...

  11. 1 The Development of the Treaty System
    (pp. 8-28)

    In the tribute system, Chinese disdain for “foreign devils” was readily apparent. Unquestionably, the Chinese in their xenophobia, in their contemptuous treatment of strangers who came to their land, were reprehensible. In this category of evils, there is perhaps only one worse: it occurs when the stranger comes and drives the native up against the wall. Ultimately, this was the tendency of the new order that the West imposed on the Chinese in the years that followed the Opium War. The Americans did not initiate this system, though they offered no alternatives and were quick to demand the privileged status...

  12. 2 The United States as a Power in East Asia
    (pp. 29-59)

    The man who became secretary of state in 1861, William Seward, had quite enough in the way of problems without taking on new ones in Asia. As he awaited the inauguration of the Lincoln administration, one after another of the Southern states seceded, leaving Seward and his president no alternative but to seek the preservation of the United States as the alpha and omega of all their policies.

    Seward was himself a nationalist after the style of John Quincy Adams—a style which, what ever its virtues, contained some embarrassing connotations. Both men had a vision of America’s mission, of...

  13. 3 In the Light of the Rising Sun
    (pp. 60-88)

    Roosevelt’s delight over Japanese military success in 1904 was limited by his awareness that Japan might prove to be an even more formidable opponent of American interests in East Asia than Russia. He warned that while the other great powers with interests in the area would have “divided interests, divided cares, double burdens,” Japan would have “but one care, one interest, one burden.”¹ He was aware that a Japanese victory might someday mean war between the United States and Japan, but he remained confident that if the Japanese were treated with respect, a Japanese-American conflict could be averted. He rejoiced...

  14. 4 The Response to Chinese Nationalism
    (pp. 89-114)

    The emergence of the United States as an important force in East Asian affairs coincided with increased intellectual and cultural contacts between Chinese and American elites. Missionaries, frustrated by their inability to find converts, to reach beyond the hunger of “rice Christians” to the upper reaches of Chinese society, found a new lure: the Christian colleges, which offered China’s future leaders access to Western science and technology. In the United States, great art from the breakup of some of the leading Ch’ing collections became intensely popular with wealthy collectors and imaginative curators, providing Americans with a taste of Chinese culture...

  15. 5 China as an Abstraction—The Conflict with Japan
    (pp. 115-147)

    When the Kwantung army commenced its operations in Manchuria, the Nationalist government of China was already confronted with internal upheavals sufficient to strain its limited power. Continued factionalism within the Kuomintang had led to the establishment of still another separatist regime at Canton. A graver threat to the government existed in Kiangsi, where the mistakes of his generals necessitated Chiang Kai-shek’s personal supervision of the campaign against Communist forces led by Mao Tse-tung and Chu Teh. Informed of the Japanese attack, Chiang chose to concentrate his efforts against the Communists, convinced that they were a cancer that had to be...

  16. 6 Communism in China
    (pp. 148-194)

    The desire to stimulate China’s war effort and the necessity for postwar planning intensified American interest in the Chinese Communist movement, but this interest in Communism in China was as old as Mao’s, dating back to the days of the May Fourth Movement. As reports of Bolshevik influence in China began to reach Washington, the Department of State had established a new file and had begun routine inquiries into the nature, extent, and significance of this new phenomenon. Although within the United States these were the days of the “Red Scare,” of “Palmer’s Raids,” the initial American response to Bolshevism...

  17. 7 The Great Aberration
    (pp. 195-214)

    Beginning in the nineteenth century, as the American people gradually freed themselves from concern with continental problems, providing for their security and prosperity through expansion, they became increasingly concerned with external affairs, with the world balance of power, and with the overseas expansion of American power, economic and political. As American interest in the outer world grew, men looked to East Asia as well as to Europe, but Asia was always less important to a nation that faced eastward across the Atlantic. More and more Americans were interested in Asia, concerned with Asian affairs, but those interested in trade found...

  18. 8 Rapprochement—At Last
    (pp. 215-231)

    The years of the Cultural Revolution marked a period of intense factional strife in China, the details of which may never be known to the rest of the world. Domestic concerns preoccupied China’s leaders. A sea of Red Guards swamped the foreign policy apparatus of the state and Peking drifted out of touch with the world. The invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968, and the Brezhnev Doctrine with which the Soviet Union justified its action, forced the Chinese to look outward, to face the danger on their borders. While the armed forces of China were involved in a myriad of...

  19. 9 In the Shadow of Tiananmen
    (pp. 232-262)

    George Bush probably knew more about China and the issues in Chinese-American relations than any president in the history of the United States. In 1971, as ambassador to the United Nations, he had been assigned the hopeless task of leading the fight to keep a seat for Taiwan in the General Assembly. He spent the better part of two years in Beijing as head of the American liaison office in China in 1974 and 1975. When, in the election campaign of 1980, Reagan refused to endorse the Shanghai Communiqué and threatened to reestablish official relations with Taiwan, it was George...

  20. 10 America in the Age of Chinese Power
    (pp. 263-292)

    Contrary to the expectations of many Western analysts, China recovered rapidly from the sanctions imposed on it after the Tiananmen massacre and the brutal repression that followed. As a potential market and as a source of cheap labor and inexpensive imports, China was very important to the international business community, which did not fret long about the human rights abuses of its government. Sanctions were soon lifted, capital flowed into China, and even the Clinton administration put aside its concerns about the “Butchers of Beijing” in order to give priority to expanding the American economy through increased trade with the...

  21. Notes
    (pp. 293-298)
  22. Bibliographical Essay
    (pp. 299-310)
  23. Index
    (pp. 311-326)