Journal of American-East Asian Relations

Published by Brill
Print ISSN: 1058-3947
This article reexamines the question of whether a chance was lost for the U.S. government to develop relations with Mao's China in the 1940s. I focus on John S. Service and John Paton Davies, seeking along the way to illuminate the ideological roots of the Truman administration's nonrecognition policy toward China. I argue that proponents of the “lost chance” thesis have misapplied the concept of realism in diplomacy, since realism is primarily concerned with power and security, not ideology such as democracy. These proponents overlook the assumptions on which American diplomats and leaders operated. The China Hands assumed that the Chinese Communists were social democrats, not revolutionaries controlled by Stalin. Dean Acheson embraced Davies's assumption that Mao would reassert nationalism upon assuming power and might still be drawn away from Moscow toward Washington. Far from being realists, they were deeply ideological. They disagreed with their domestic rivals within a liberal consensus. None of them had the intention of recognizing a Communist government in China. This study reveals how unspoken shared assumptions shaped not only the dynamics of American policymaking toward China during World War II and in its aftermath, but also the work of many historians who have written about the “lost chance.”
Legal and diplomatic guidelines for relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK) have been in place since the Treaty of Normalization and accompanying Agreements of June 1965. Tokyo and Seoul have also cultivated extensive economic ties. Since 1965, Japan has been a major supplier of technology and capital for Korea, while Korea has consistently been among the top four export markets for Japan. Unlike relations between other neighboring countries in Asia (such as China and Vietnam, Vietnam and Cambodia, China and India, India and Pakistan, or South and North Korea), there have been no wars or military conflicts between South Korea and Japan since 1945.
The leaders of the People's Republic of China (PRC) have always been aware that every development in this world affects their country, and they are constantly analyzing and reacting to these developments. The importance of this analysis has already been discussed by John Gittings; and it is this constant analysis that is responsible for the evolution of the PRC leadership's perceptions of the world on which the foreign policy framework of the PRC is based. Naturally, in this sense, the PRC's foreign policy is continuously changing because the world is evolving. On the other hand, different interpretations of various developments and different views on priorities may give rise to debates within the PRC leadership. This is particularly so because, as Michael Yahuda pointed out, the authoritative conceptualizations of world developments serve as a very important basis in the foreign policymaking of the PRC.
The 1950s was a decade of crisis and confrontation between the People's Republic of China (PRC) and the United States. Considering China as a major threat to U.S. interests in East Asia and the Pacific, the Eisenhower administration adopted a policy of political isolation, economic embargo, and military containment against the PRC. Leaders in Beijing viewed the United States as a primary enemy hostile to China's revolution and its unification with Taiwan. They maintained an intense anti-American campaign throughout the decade. How did this condition of hostility come about? How did policymakers in Washington and Beijing view each other? What objectives did the Eisenhower administration plan to achieve in pursuing a policy of toughness against the Chinese Communists? And how did Mao Zedong and his associates react to American pressure and antagonism? This essay will use recently released American and Chinese documents to answer those questions.
This article examines how an indigenous form of evangelicalism became the predominant form of Chinese Protestantism in the United States since 1949. Chinese-American Protestantism was so thoroughly reconstructed by separatist immigrants from the Diaspora and American-born (or American-raised) evangelicals that affiliation with mainline Protestant denominations and organizations is no longer desired. This development has revitalized Chinese-American Protestantism. Indeed, Chinese evangelicalism is one of the fastest-growing religions in China, the Chinese Diaspora, and among Chinese in America. Though the percentage of Chinese Americans affiliated with Christianity is not nearly as high as that of Korean Americans, Chinese-American Protestantism has achieved impressive numeric growth over the past fifty years. Much of this growth can be attributed to the large number of Chinese who have migrated to North America since World War II.
No serious study has been published on how Chinese filmmakers have portrayed the United States and the American people over the last century. The number of such films is not large. That fact stands in sharp contrast not only to the number of "China pictures" produced in the United States, which is not surprising, but also in contrast to the major role played by Chinese print media. This essay surveys the history of Chinese cinematic images of America from the early twentieth century to the new millennium and notes the shifts from mostly positive portrayal in the pre-1949 Chinese films, to universal condemnation during the Mao years and to a more nuanced, complex, and multi-colored presentation of the last few decades.
The papers in this special issue are the products of a conference, “History and China's Foreign Relations: The Achievements and Contradictions of American Scholarship, ” held at the University of Southern California in February 2008. All of us, professors, policy advisors and policy-makers, think it would be helpful if there was more informed discussion among the general public of the challenges of China's rise in the world and our responses to it, but we all acknowledge that the American public sphere is a big mess, fragmented by the apparent riches of the Internet, dumbed down to the vanishing point in the major media. Can we as scholars make some beginnings in drawing on China's long and complex history of relations with other peoples to find generalizations and patterns that help to illuminate the present for the policy elite and for the concerned public?
In September 1946, an American navy sailor killed a Chinese ricksha puller named Zang Dayaozi in a pointless dispute over an allegedly unpaid fare. The American military shielded the assailant from justice, with the frustrated acquiescence of the Nationalist authorities. This seemingly minor event illustrates that the century-old patterns of personal abuse and legal privilege did not completely evaporate when the “unequal treaty” system ended in 1943. In the context of the Chinese Civil War, the event takes on political significance as well. Critics of the Guomindang government used the episode to illustrate the destructive impact of American interventionism and the callous disregard of the Nanjing government for its own people. Communist propagandists linked Zang's death with the more famous rape of a Chinese college student involving two American Marines in Beiping. The episode further illustrates that American service personnel stationed abroad play multiple roles, interacting with the locals in particular “contact zones” but also serving as the personification of American foreign policy.
Many problems are being solved here, because the nisei boys in uniform are cooperating to the utmost. We are spreading news of democracy … and many other good things of life, which the Japanese people … never knew about … We are planting the seeds for a New Japan under the kind surveillance of the U.S.
In organizing the conference “History and China's Foreign Relations, ” John Wills set two difficult tasks for the participants. The first was to consider the role of the academy in U.S. policy-making toward China and surmise whether academics were more influential in John Fairbank's day than today. The second involved a consideration of the models or theoretical constructs used for characterizing China's relations with other countries. Although there is much to say about the relation between area studies and the state, my focus will be on the latter topic, models and theories of foreign relations.
Historians of foreign relations rarely consider the issue of immigration policy to be part of their field. Yet, immigration policy has much relevance for the study of the history of recent American foreign policy. The standards by which one nation chooses to admit immigrants can have an important effect on the sensitivities and attitudes of another nation, as was demonstrated in the tension that marked U.S.-Japanese relations after passage of the Asian Exclusion Act in 1924. Moreover, the movement of refugees escaping persecution, war, oppression, discrimination, and natural disasters can have an impact, both positive and negative, on a “receiving” nation's economy, society, and political stability. In the recent history of the United States, debates over immigration policy have been guided in large part by foreign policy concerns. This is particularly true when considering the postwar debate between the executive branch and Congress about opening America's doors to Asians.
On 6 August 1945, at exactly 8:15 a.m., the first atomic bomb in history was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. Along with the Soviet entrance into the war on 8 August, the atomic bomb was one of the “twin shocks” that finally compelled Emperor Hirohito to make the decision to surrender. The real “shock” of Hiroshima, however, was not the introduction of a “new and most cruel bomb,” as Hirohito described the atomic bomb in his 15 August radio broadcast announcing the decision to surrender. Rather, it was the capability of the United States to produce the rumored .super weapon. that Japan's own top atomic scientists had repeatedly deemed impossible, the latest instance of such denial coming only several weeks earlier on 21 July 1945—five days after the Manhattan Project's successful Trinity atomic test at Alamogordo, New Mexico.
Most countries after World War II found it challenging to deal with nuclear forces in national security policy on the one hand and to cooperate with measures aimed at international disarmament and control of such destructive weapons, on the other. Japan, the only country to experience atomic bombing, was no exception to this generalization. During the Cold War, the Japanese government tried to satisfy two conflicting imperatives: keeping the nation safe from the nuclear threats posed by the Soviet Union and China; and pursuing the eventual abolition of nuclear weapons.
During the nineteenth-century gold rush era, Chinese gold miners arrived spontaneously in California and, later, were invited in to work the Otago goldfields in New Zealand. This article considers how the initial arrival of Chinese in those areas was represented in two major newspapers of the time, the Daily Alta California and the Otago Witness. Both newspapers initially favored Chinese immigration, due to the economic benefits that accrued and the generally tolerant outlook of the newspapers' editors. The structure of the papers' coverage differed, however, reflecting the differing historical circumstances of California and Otago. Both papers gave little space to reporting Chinese in their own voices. The newspapers editors played the crucial role in shaping each newspaper's coverage over time. The editor of the Witness remained at the helm of his newspaper throughout the survey period and his newspaper consequently did not waver in its support of the Chinese. The editor of the Alta, by contrast, died toward the end of the survey period and his newspaper subsequently descended into racist, anti-Chinese rhetoric.
Henry Kissinger has been persistent in his claim that the U.S. Congress's failure to adequately supply South Vietnam was the ultimate cause of its collapse in 1975 - a claim many historians dispute. An incident that has received less attention is the role of Congress in terminating a potential negotiated settlement of the civil war in Cambodia by imposing a halt of U.S. bombing there in the summer of 1973. This article demonstrates that in this case, Kissinger's claims are not without foundation. Although the conclusions are tentative without the full Chinese record, the evidence suggests that terminating U.S. military operations in Cambodia fatally undermined Chinese efforts to negotiate the removal of Lon Nol as Cambodian head of state and the establishment of a coalition government involving the Khmer Rouge but with Sihanouk at its head.
Like most real history, the Korean War left ambiguous, selective, and complex lessons for the policymakers of the Eisenhower administration. The president himself, to borrow Dean Acheson's phrase, had been “present at the creation” of the war in 1950. He had then distanced himself from it as Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) and as a presidential candidate. He inherited the conflict—a war to be ended—as president. Yet the war never became a defining experience for Dwight D. Eisenhower, nor did it play an inordinate role in his foreign and defense policies. His geo-strategic views had developed well before 1950, most obviously during World War II. The Korean conflict, a post-colonial civil war that became an internationalized regional conflict, was not even unique enough in its own time to dominate the national security conceptualization that became “the New Look” or “the Great Equation.” It might have encouraged a “Great Evasion,” an unwillingness to deal with instability in the Middle East and Asia, but instead the Eisenhower administration coped, more or less successfully, with comparable turmoil in the Philippines, Thailand, Iran, and Lebanon. It is true that the next land war in Asia—to be avoided at all costs according to the Korean “never again” strategic gurus—awaited a change of presidents, but President Eisenhower committed an Army-Marine Corps expeditionary force to Lebanon in 1958. So much for avoiding the use of American ground forces in local wars.
American public discourse today about the rise of China and its implications for the United States frequently draws on broad themes and parallels from Chinese history, both to explicate China's present and to project its future. These themes and parallels draw on a picture of the Chinese past that, as recently as twenty-five years ago, was embraced by many (though by no means all) professional historians and propagated by some of them as the best means to understand contemporary China. But since the 1970s, the community of historians of China has produced work that severely undermines longstanding conventional judgments of China's past. As a consequence, the historical themes and parallels that once were thought useful in illuminating interpretation of contemporary China have been stood on their head.
If the U.S. wants Japan's opinion as to whether the U.S. should base a carrier in Japan or not, or wants Japan's agreement, the Prime Minister authorized me to say Japan would support the U.S. plan.—Funada Naka, Speaker of Japan's House of Representatives
In the battle for universal human rights, it may be said that sovereignty has become “the last refuge of scoundrels.” Certainly, this is the prevailing verdict of Western liberal activists with regard to the invocations of absolute self-determination and noninterference by authoritarian regimes in the People's Republic of China (PRC), Indonesia, Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines. These Asia- Pacific governments have defended their heavy-handed response to internal dissent with the position that “State sovereignty is the basis for the realization of citizens' human rights. If the sovereignty of a state is not safeguarded, the human rights of its citizens are out of the question.”
This article examines the language in mid-19th Century accounts emphasizing Chinese cultural “stagnation” in the face of growing American influence in East Asia to investigate the emergence of a belief in the rising position of the United States on the world stage. This construction played off of critical observations that attempted to explain how the China trade was strong enough to be of U.S. national interest, while at the same time clarifying how the Chinese were weak enough to succumb to foreign influence. As such, Americans attempted to diagnose and cure the ills of stagnation through intervention. From religious conversion, to economic expansion, to cultural influence, Americans proposed a litany of solutions to China's problems. A common theme within these larger tropes focused on the unique role that Chinese women played in American hopes for enacting change in China. In defining Chinese stagnation, Americans betrayed their own perspectives on the role of women in society and attempted to influence Chinese women to adopt that idealized model as the means by which the United States could profit from elevating China into the ranks of modern civilized nations.
From the Opium Wars down to the revolution of 1949, American missionaries, diplomats, businessmen, and novelists who lived in China – China Hands – wrote a series of popular books which construed China not just as a geographical space but as a virtual fable of modernization and proving ground of the American way of life. These men and women based their authority on personal experience and formed what Paul Cohen calls the “amateur phase” of American writing about China; only after World War II was there a “true professional field.” These China Hands debated against American popular “images” rooted in racism, fears of Chinese immigration, Orientalist fantasies, historicist mythology, diplomatic strategizing, and wholesale ignorance as both they and China changed. China Hands both feared and acknowledged Mao’s revolution, but lost communications with their reading public. They lost their authority too, as professional academics edged them out. When China became “Red,” they went mostly silent for fear of being charged with its “loss.” These books include Williams, The Middle Kingdom (1948); Smith Chinese Characteristics (1894); Hobart, Oil for the Lamps of China; Buck, The Good Earth; Snow, Red Star Over China (1937); White, Thunder Out of China (1945); Fairbank, The United State and China (1948).
This article describes how the Civil Service examination system in Vietnam responded to the crisis French military aggression posed to that nation in the late 19th Century, and how it adapted to the French protectorate in the early 20th Century. It presents evidence that contests the notion that the examination declined in relevance along with “Chinese influence” over Vietnam, and that adoption of European-style modernity led to its elimination. Instead, this essay proposes that officials adapted the examination to fit with the circumstances of the time. Furthermore, the changes within the examination were not a realignment in emphasis from “China” to “Europe” but rather a shift from envisaging a universalistic world to imagining a particularistic, nationalist one. In support of this central argument, it will consider specifically the way that examination answers represented France. The examinations of 1862, 1877, and 1904 will receive particular attention as case studies demonstrating this shift.
This article examines the handling of a contract between the Shogunate of Japan and private agents in the United States for the construction of three ships of war in 1862. Robert H. Pruyn, the U.S. minister, received the original order and down payment from the Japanese government and assigned the contract to two private citizens in Albany, New York. Over the course of the next three years, complications from the U.S. Civil War and fluctuations in the currency markets made it impossible for the U.S. builders to fulfill the order in full; the Japanese received only one ship. Historians consistently have accused Pruyn of mishandling the contract and of using the funds as investment capital for his own personal gain, but evidence shows that Pruyn was scrupulously careful with the contract and the payment, and that he averted a disastrous result which could have soured U.S.-Japan relations.
Anson Burlingame (1820-1870), often neglected or misunderstood today, was an ardently antislavery congressman from Boston whom Abraham Lincoln appointed minister to China in 1861. Burlingame developed a Cooperative Policy that advocated peaceful means while upholding China's sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Chinese government subsequently appointed him China's first envoy to the Western powers. The first stop of the so-called Burlingame Mission was America, from March to September 1868. This article focuses on three topics: (1) How the mission's reception reflected the partisan struggle over Reconstruction and the push for racial equality. Republicans, the party of Reconstruction, proved sympathetic to the mission and to China, while the opposition Democrats were hostile. (2) How Burlingame presented Americans with a strongly favorable image of China to emphasize treating it with full respect and as a normal nation. (3) The Burlingame Treaty, the first equal treaty between China and a Western power after the Opium War, which sought to place China on a full and equal status in international affairs and to place Chinese in America on an equal footing with immigrants from other nations. Burlingame's friend, Mark Twain, wrote supportive articles.
This article explores the diplomatic negotiations that U.S. Navy Commander Richard W. Meade conducted in Samoa in 1872. The resulting agreement that came to be known as “the Meade Treaty” was the first the United States negotiated with Samoa, but scholars usually have not explored the details of it and the process that produced it because the U.S. Senate rejected the treaty. Meade’s motivations and actions in Samoa provide a case study in how the interactions of naval officers, business leaders, islanders, and diplomats converged to produce early U.S. diplomacy in the Pacific. The article sketches the situation in Samoa in 1872 when Commander Meade and his ship, the ussNarragansett , arrived. The role of the United States in the Pacific was changing in the last third of the 19th Century, and Commander Meade’s motivations, influences, and actions illustrate the new wave of U.S. Pacific expansion during the years after the American Civil War.
Authoritative statements have long credited the elusive American immigrant entrepreneur Benjamin Brodsky (1877-1960) with founding film production companies in Shanghai and Hong Kong as early as 1909 and initiating filmmaking collaborations with local Chinese. Yet those histories prove on close examination to consist mostly of sketchy assertions offered without clear evidence. This essay draws on original archival research and recent work of scholars in Hong Kong, Europe, and Japan to reframe the historical narrative, dating most developments a few years later while revealing fresh aspects of Brodsky's trans-Pacific operations and high-level Chinese involvement. The new findings have intriguing implications for our understanding of early twentieth-century trans-Pacific cultural associations as well as Chinese cinema. Part One of this article reconstructs Brodsky's early career and reveals new evidence of his interactions with Chinese returned students and government officials, with a focus on the production in China of Brodsky's feature-length travel documentary A Trip Thru China (1916).
Part One of this essay traced a biography for Benjamin Brodsky and revealed surprising facets of the production of his 1916 feature-length travelogue A Trip Thru China. Part Two addresses the film's genre inscription and cinematic qualities and relates its embedded values to its enthusiastic reception across America 1916-18. Although the ethnographic documentary pays admiring tribute to laboring men and women throughout China, it also valorizes the moribund Chinese empire, as embodied in Brodsky's ultimate patron in China, President Yuan Shikai. While fully eschewing the "Yellow Menace" U.S. discourse of its period, Trip humorously delineates the East and West as essentially diff erent. The rare work's exceptional critical and popular success from California to New York City points to Brodsky's skilled showmanship and ability to engage the support of independent movie distributors and investors. Why, then, the essay considers in conclusion, did Brodsky's subsequent experiences after his shift in 1917 to making films in Japan, including the feature-length travelogue Beautiful Japan (1918), so diverge in its outcome from his early filmmaking career in China? c Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2011.
In December 1987, the Chinese Ministry of Education approved the establishment of Lingnan College under Zhongshan University in Guangzhou (Canton) on the site where the old Lingnan had been located. The ministry's decision came on the eve of the grand celebration of the centennial anniversary of Lingnan University, and it also came at the strong request of overseas and domestic Lingnan (Canton) alumni. Since then, Lingnan's loyal alumni all over the world, particularly those in Hong Kong and the United States, have contributed nearly U.S. 20 million to the institution. In addition, Lingnan College's tax-free teaching and research development fund, registered with the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government since 1997, has gone up to U.S. 1.28 million. Although the Lingnan that existed from 1888 to 1951 is long gone as an institution, its memory has continued to command so much loyalty that a careful examination of the Lingnan experience is useful for understanding the dynamics of the American and Chinese educational interaction from the late-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century.
Interest in Chinese art has swelled in the United States in recent years. In 2015, the collection of the late dealer-collector Robert Hatfield Ellsworth fetched no less than $134 million at auction (much of it from Mainland Chinese buyers), while the Metropolitan Museum of Art drew over 800,000 visitors to its galleries for the blockbuster show “China: Through the Looking Glass”-the fifth most-visited exhibition in the museum's 130-year history. The roots of this interest in Chinese art reach back to the first two decades of the 20th Century and are grounded in the geopolitical questions of those years. Drawing from records of major collectors and museums in New York and Washington, D.C., this article argues that the United States became a major international center for collecting and studying Chinese art through cosmopolitan collaboration with European partners and, paradoxically, out of a nationalist sentiment justifying hegemony over a foreign culture derived from an ideology of American exceptionalism in the Pacific. This article frames the development of Chinese art as a contested process of knowledge production between the United States, Europe, and China that places the history of collecting in productive conversation with the history of Sino-American relations and imperialism.
This article uses the political life of H. H. Stevens, a Vancouver businessman, Conservative member of parliament, and anti-Asian activist to examine the nature of the relationship between the institutions of Canadian immigration control and the political and ideological context of the time. It shows how the transition from Liberal to Conservative government after the Canadian election of 1911 provides an opportunity to examine the importance of individual and party choices in the implementation of immigration regulations. It becomes clear that the policies of control were subject to a certain amount of improvisation on the part of those responsible for implementing the system and allowed those who had strong opinions to harden the line against Chinese immigration. Further, the article reveals how differences in Liberal and Conservative attitudes on Chinese immigration are clearly not merely differences in racial outlook, but rather differences in individuals’ material position at home and their political calculations in the larger context of the British Empire.
Top-cited authors
James Hevia
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Yuchao Zhu
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Brantly Womack
  • University of Virginia
Ramona Curry
  • University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Charles Hayford