U.S.-China relations became increasingly important and complex in the twentieth century. While economic, political, and military interactions all grew over time, the most dramatic expansion took place in educational exchange, turning it into the strongest tie between the two nations. By the end of the 1940s, tens of thousands of Chinese and American students and scholars had crisscrossed the Pacific, leaving indelible marks on both societies. Although all exchange programs were terminated during the cold war, the two nations reemerged as top partners within a decade after the reestablishment of diplomatic relations.
Approaching U.S.-China relations from a unique and usually overlooked perspective, Hongshan Li reveals that both the drastic expansion and complete termination of educational ties between the two nations in the first half of the twentieth century were largely the results of direct and deep intervention from the American and Chinese governments. Benefiting from government support and collaboration, educational exchange succeeded in diffusing knowledge and improving mutual understanding between the two peoples across the divide of civilizations. However, the visible hand of government also proved to be most destructive to the development of healthy intercultural relations when educational interactions were treated merely as an instrument for crisis management.
Subjects: History, Sociology
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