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V.K. Wellington Koo and the Emergence of Modern China

V.K. Wellington Koo and the Emergence of Modern China

Stephen G. Craft
Copyright Date: 2004
Pages: 344
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  • Book Info
    V.K. Wellington Koo and the Emergence of Modern China
    Book Description:

    Chinese diplomat V.K. Wellington Koo (1888-1985) was involved in virtually every foreign and domestic crisis in twentieth-century China. After earning a Ph.D. from Columbia University, Koo entered government service in 1912 intent on revising the unequal treaty system imposed on China in the nineteenth century, believing that breaking the shackles of imperialism would bring China into the "family of nations."

    His pursuit of this nationalistic agenda was immediately interrupted by Chinese civil war and Japanese imperialism during World War I. In the 1930s Koo attempted to use international law to force western powers to honor their treaty obligations to punish Japanese expansion. Koo also participated in creating the League of Nations and later the United Nations in the hope that collective security would become reality.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-5756-6
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. A Note on Chinese-English Transliteration
    (pp. viii-viii)
  4. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-ix)
  5. List of Maps
    (pp. x-x)
  6. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  7. Chapter 1 The Making of a Chinese Patriot
    (pp. 1-29)

    THE WORLD INTO WHICH V.K. Wellington Koo was born in 1888 contrasted starkly with that of most Chinese boys, whose existence seemed rather bleak. After many years as a deputy purser with the China Merchants’ Steam Navigation Company, Koo’s father ran a hardware store before working as a tax collector and serving as president of the Bank of Communications. Such occupations provided the Koo family with the means to purchase a mansion in Shanghai’s International Settlement, complete with a host of servants as well as property in cities outside of Shanghai.¹ Within the family compound, Koo never experienced hunger or...

  8. Chapter 2 China and World War I
    (pp. 30-60)

    IN 1912, KOO WENT TO WORK for a government that was faced with numerous problems and was searching for solutions. The new government needed a constitution, diplomatic recognition, and a loan. The powers refused to grant the new government recognition and money until it proved to be stable and willing to abide by the unequal treaties. Internal stability proved more difficult to achieve. Soon after Koo went to work, Tang Shaoyi broke with Yuan Shikai when the latter refused to appoint a fellow revolutionary to take over the military governorship of Zhili Province, where Beijing was located. Although Koo tendered...

  9. Chapter 3 Chinese Nationalism and Treaty Revision, 1921–1928
    (pp. 61-93)

    IN 1920, BEIJING APPOINTED KOO to be Chinese minister to Britain. Koo found that “the contrast between London and Washington, the setup of the diplomatic corps and diplomatic procedure as well as social customs and life in general, was quite noticeable.” For their part, the British really knew little about Koo. The British minister to Washington described him as “well liked socially.… He is cultured, and has great charm of manner.” In February 1921, when Koo presented himself to the King of England, Sir Miles Lampson wrote, “His views are distinctly progressive and he is considered a typical representative of...

  10. Chapter 4 China, Japanese Imperialism, and Collective Security, 1931–1937
    (pp. 94-117)

    IN 1929, KOO RETURNED TO CHINA to assist Zhang Xueliang, known as the Young Marshal, who controlled Manchuria but gave his allegiance to Chiang Kai-shek. At the time, Koo’s career looked finished. On one or more occasions, Koo tried to get a position in the Nanjing government only to be rebuffed, particularly by his old nemesis, C.T. Wang. Koo had little choice but to remain in Manchuria as a private individual. He had purchased land in Manchuria years before and now purchased more in an effort to establish a land development enterprise. “I wanted to leave the political sphere,” Koo...

  11. Chapter 5 Sino-Japanese War and the Specter of Sellout, 1937–1941
    (pp. 118-146)

    ON JULY 7, 1937, JAPANESE AND CHINESE forces clashed at the Marco Polo Bridge near Beijing. When the Japanese Army presented demands, including Chinese withdrawal from the area and an apology for the incident, Chiang Kai-shek refused. In coming days, the Japanese government sent five divisions to China and demanded control of North China. Chiang Kai-shek agreed to be more vigilant in suppressing the activities of the communists and other anti-Japanese bodies in order to assuage the Japanese, but the Japanese demanded concessions that Chiang was not prepared to make. The generalissimo decided that he could no longer appease the...

  12. Chapter 6 Sino-British Tensions, 1941–1944
    (pp. 147-167)

    ON JANUARY 1, 1942, WASHINGTON TRUMPETED the United Nations Declaration in which the signatories agreed to devote all resources to the defeat of the Axis powers. The signatories were listed in alphabetical order, but the names United States, Britain, the USSR, and China headed the list, signifying that these four nations were great powers. For the first time in China’s history, China was, in William Kirby’s words, “an ‘ally’ in the modern military-diplomatic sense of the term.”¹ The man responsible for China’s rise as a “great power” was Franklin D. Roosevelt. With the failure of the league during the 1920s...

  13. Chapter 7 Sino-American Tensions, 1944–1945
    (pp. 168-196)

    WHILE KOO SAT IN LONDON fretting over the state of British-Chinese relations, Sino-American relations experienced their own tensions. By the end of 1943, government officials in Washington realized that Chiang Kai-shek’s potential contribution to the war effort against Japan was minimal. In February 1942, Gen. Joseph Stilwell arrived in China to make the Chinese army more combat effective. Commander of all American forces in the China-Burma-India Theater, Stilwell controlled the Lend-Lease supplies going to China and was FDR’s military representative to the generalissimo. Almost immediately, Stilwell and Chiang were at odds over strategy: Stilwell wanted to retake Burma while Chiang...

  14. Chapter 8 Collapse of the ROC, 1945–1949
    (pp. 197-225)

    DURING WORLD WAR II, KOO ASSURED FOREIGNERS that in the postwar period, there would be no more civil wars and that the communist problem would be easily resolved. He claimed as well that China would become “a fully-fledged democracy after the war.”¹ But with Japan’s surrender, both the CCP and Chiang’s forces set out to retake territory held by the Japanese and to disarm Japanese forces. Chiang disregarded the advice of many that he launch a war against the CCP. He chose instead to negotiate. Civil war might cost Chiang U.S. aid, but negotiating avoided alienating the Americans and bought...

  15. Chapter 9 The ROC on Taiwan and the Early Cold War
    (pp. 226-251)

    ON OCTOBER 1, 1949, THE PRC WAS PROCLAIMED in Beijing. Mao Zedong told the Chinese people that China had finally stood up. Once again, Koo stood on the opposite side of revolution. As ambassador, he represented a government whose diplomatic recognition would soon be endangered. Despite efforts by the United States, Britain and India immediately recognized the new PRC government followed by nine other noncommunist regimes. Even the status of Taiwan as a base remained in question. Taiwan was a colony of Japan’s from 1895 until 1945, and Koo knew that “juridically” Taiwan’s status was “open to challenge” being based...

  16. Conclusion
    (pp. 252-258)

    FOR SEVERAL MONTHS FOLLOWING RETIREMENT, Koo served as one of Chiang Kai-shek’s foreign policy advisors. Then in 1957, he filled a vacancy on the International Court at the Hague where he served as a justice for the next ten years. After stepping down from the Court, he became an American citizen and lived in New York City. He never returned to China, even though Mao Zedong issued an invitation in 1972. The year before, the ROC walked out of the United Nations once it was clear that it would be replaced on the Security Council by the PRC. Mao asserted...

  17. Notes
    (pp. 259-292)
  18. Bibliography
    (pp. 293-320)
  19. Index
    (pp. 321-332)