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82riceballs

Why wasn't the US like other western powers who carved out China?

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82riceballs

I was reading about the Open Door Policy on Wiki, and came across the following passage:

"In 1898, the United States had become an East Asian power through the acquisition of the Philippine Islands, and when the partition of China by the European powers and Japan seemed imminent, the United States felt its commercial interests in China threatened."

Why didn't the US jump in and partition China just like the European powers & Japan?

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studentyoung

A brief answer.

First, the American Anti-Imperialist League. ->

http://203.208.37.132/search?q=cache:fayeSoq_XOkJ:en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Anti-Imperialist_League+anti+imperialism&cd=2&hl=zh-CN&ct=clnk&gl=cn&st_usg=ALhdy284eAtW_LERZbwgAzHW3SWK_nJCkQ

Second, in 1898, the US was busy in the preparation and conduct of the war with Spain.

Third, even after defeated Spain and occupied the Philippines, its navel and land forces were still not strong enough to rival with those European powers’, so the US dared not to offense those powers at that time.

Four, the US’s peace movement in 1900.

Cheers!

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jeffofarabia

America really never was an empire like Britain or France. We kind of fell assbackwards into the Philippines. We didn't want to carve up China, but we also needed to make sure the European powers didn't carve it up either, because that would affect our trade there. So we pushed for an Open Door Policy.

I often wonder what the map of China would look like today if we hadn't had this policy. China might look more like Africa. That could make for an interesting alternative history.

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bhchao

America was becoming assertive in foreign policy after decades of economic growth following its civil war. Its stunning recovery, less than 30 years after 1865, made it an economic powerhouse. Economic growth gave America an incentive to participate in world affairs after years as an isolationist country. Its growing economy required it to modernize its military to protect its interests abroad.

China's rapid recovery after 1976 mirrors America's recovery in the late 19th century.

By the time of the Open Door Policy, America wanted to maintain a balance of power to prevent European hegemony. The European powers had already carved up Africa and much of Asia. It wanted to prevent any one European power from seizing more territory in China.

Teddy Roosevelt brokered the 1905 peace deal between Russia and Japan for this reason. He wanted to check their imperialist ambitions to maintain a balance of power in Asia.

We kind of fell assbackwards into the Philippines

The US did not have a colonialist tradition, with the exception of the Philippines, Cuba, and Puerto Rico.

America really never was an empire like Britain or France

America's approach to foreign policy had already become liberalized by WWII. FDR wanted to include China as a major participant in world affairs, especially in the postwar UN. Churchill on the other hand deeply resented China's participation in WWII meetings like the Cairo Conference.

Britain had followed American liberalism in world affairs after WWII.

But France was still living in the Stone Age. It fought to keep its colonial possessions in Vietnam and Algeria from 1950-1962. France fought in Vietnam to keep its empire. America fought in Vietnam to fight communism.

Edited by bhchao

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82riceballs

Thanks a bunch guys! I have another question-- I ran across the following passage in my American history textbook which I really don't understand:

"Secretary Hay let fly another paper broadside in 1900, announcing that henceforth the Open Door would embrace the territorial integrity of China, in addition to its commercial integrity. Those principles helped spare China from possible partition in those troubled years and were formally incorporated into the Nine-Power Treaty of 1922, only to be callously violated by Japan's takeover of Manchuria a decade later."

Maybe I'm misunderstanding this, but wasn't China basically already carved into separate spheres of influence by foreign powers? How did the Open Door Policy help "spare" China from this fate if it already happened? :help

Also, I want to know Chinese people's impression of America's "Open Door Policy". Did it help China at all? Or was it just Americans paying lip service to lofty principles?

Thanks in advance!

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studentyoung
Maybe I'm misunderstanding this, but wasn't China basically already carved into separate spheres of influence by foreign powers? How did the Open Door Policy help "spare" China from this fate if it already happened?

Please take a look at this.->

The 1899 Open Door notes provided that (1) each great power should maintain free access to a treaty port or to any other vested interest within its sphere, (2) only the Chinese government should collect taxes on trade, and (3) no great power having a sphere should be granted exemptions from paying harbour dues or railroad charges. The replies from the various nations were evasive, but Hay interpreted them as acceptances.

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/429642/Open-Door-policy

Yes, you’re right that China was basically already carved into separate spheres of influence by foreign powers. And these powers controlled most vital harbors, which were the US deadly needed to trade in China. With the Open Door Policy, the US could “legally” use any China’s harbors and avoided being overtaxed by those European powers. In a word, the US wanted those European powers to open their ‘doors” in China to it, so that it could “share” China too.

Also, I want to know Chinese people's impression of America's "Open Door Policy".

At that time, the White House kept dirty on its mind to make such a policy! (黄鼠狼给鸡拜年——没安好心!)

Did it help China at all? Or was it just Americans paying lip service to lofty principles?

Lofty????????? Hehe. It sounds “lofty”, perhaps. :wink:

Cheers!

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82riceballs

Thanks, studentyoung!

So is the textbook basically wrong?

Also, I read that the Open Door Policy was supposed to make foreign powers "preserve" Chinese territorial & administrative integrity. However, China was already partitioned (despite not being officially colonized) and the Europeans were already exploiting China. Isn't the foreign exploitation of China already a violation of the Open Door Policy?

Edited by 82riceballs

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studentyoung
So is the textbook basically wrong?

No, I don’t think so. It’s quite right, especially it’s published in the US. (Do you understand what I mean? If you don’t understand, please read Japanese story 罗生门 at first.:mrgreen: ) (If you want to study history, you must read books and make your own judgment.)

Also, I read that the Open Door Policy was supposed to make foreign powers "preserve" Chinese territorial & administrative integrity. However, China was already partitioned (despite not being officially colonized) and the Europeans were already exploiting China. Isn't the foreign exploitation of China already a violation of the Open Door Policy?

No. the foreign exploitation of China isn’t a violation of the Open Door Policy, but just the US wanted to take this policy to share interests in China with those European powers. In a word, the US didn’t mind what its European counterparts did in China, but it just tried to create the opportunity to do the same thing in another way. The US didn’t care whether the European powers’ exploitation in China violated the policy or not, as long as it could get its share in China.

Cheers!

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jeffofarabia

When I lived in China, America wasn't given any more credit for this than the other powers. The intentions of the Open Door Policy still let the west exploit China; it just made sure that China wasn't completely carved up like Africa or Southeast Asia.

America of this period was very xenophobic against the Chinese and had started passing laws ending emigration to America. That is remembered more.

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bhchao

The US role during that time reminds me of the movie LA Confidential.

You are a scrupulous police officer in a department full of corruption. You do your best to restrain your corrupt colleagues from overreaching. But the culture in your department is so corrupt that corruption becomes institutionalized. You realize you have to imitate them to some degree in order to bring them down at the end.

The US role resembles the role Guy Pearce played in the movie; new kid on the block who is just inside; tries to impress his aggressive colleagues by being aggressive himself; but in the end creates resentment from his more powerful colleagues by insisting that everyone follow the rules. It doesn't help either that this new kid on the block who acts righteously (or gives the appearance of acting righteously) is a rising, ambitious individual with a calculating, cold exterior.

The European powers resembled the corrupt, aggressive officers in the LA Police Department in the film. They all looked down in private on the rising new kid on the block. (German chancellor Otto Bismarck during the late 19th century ridiculed the US as just some lightweight country in the middle of the ocean). Their response to Open Door, evasive at best and somewhat contemptuous, mirrored this sentiment.

The intentions of the Open Door Policy still let the west exploit China; it just made sure that China wasn't completely carved up like Africa or Southeast Asia.

America of this period was very xenophobic against the Chinese and had started passing laws ending emigration to America. That is remembered more.

US cultural attitudes toward China during the late 19th-very early 20th century mirrored the times, and was probably influenced by the foreign powers' activities in China. We could say the same of Japan. During the Tang dynasty, Japan had high regard for Chinese culture. But its attitude toward China changed after seeing the condition of its role model of several centuries deteriorate.

American foreign policy liberalized more quickly than their European counterparts, maturing into a moral leadership position after the development of Wilsonian ideals in WWI. American political leaders were the most vocal in condemning Japan for its actions in China in the 1930s. By the 1930s, American cultural attitudes toward China had changed thanks to media exposure and literary culture. The China Lobby led by Republicans and authors like Pearl Buck helped shape favorable American public opinion of China.

Herbert Hoover and his Wilsonian Secretary of State Henry Stimson condemned the Japanese invasion of "Manchuria" in 1931, refusing to recognize territories gained with military force. Hoover spent his young adulthood in China and spoke fluent Mandarin. Strangely, Republican leaders manage the economy poorly, but are sophisticated when it comes to relations with China.

FDR was more active against Japan during the 1930s. Japanese actions in China were a major factor why the US and Japan eventually went to war. FDR kept Stimson in his Cabinet. As a hawkish Secretary of War, Stimson strongly supported hitting Japan with an oil embargo for its aggression. Yet, Stimson was also the individual who blocked attempts to nuke Kyoto. The military wanted Kyoto to be included in the targets for the atomic bomb. Stimson successfully blocked attempts to put Kyoto on the list, saying that the city was a cultural and historic center.

America may have participated behind the scenes in China (in a very limited role) during the colonial era. It came late to the scene, but also left the scene earlier. America's attitudes against imperialism and empires accelerated with the the advent of Wilsonian principles during 1920s.

Edited by bhchao

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hidden12345

It was probably Americans' aversion to rice. We've always been a corn and maize country.

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m000gle
Why didn't the US jump in and partition China just like the European powers & Japan?

Not to downplay the blatant partitioning of China by the European powers in the name of trade, "modernization" and colonialism, but America was certainly not exempt from the practice. They never, to my knowledge, took over huge swathes of land (provinces for example) like other colonizing empires, but they did take part in the trade opened up by colonial endeavours. The United States administered a section of the treaty port of Shanghai before its incorporation into the International Settlement, its citizens were subject to the same extraterritoriality as other empires' subjects and it was a signatory to the Treaty of Wangxia, unequal treaty, in 1844, the same year as France and preceding all similar treaties signed by Russia, Germany, Portugal, Austria-Hungary, Belgium, Spain, Netherlands and even Japan. The United States was also belligerent in the Western military response to the Boxer Rebellion in 1899, the same year they promoted the Open Door Policy and one year after their becoming a colonizing empire in East Asia with their acquisition of the Philippines. The United States most likely felt its commercial interests were threatened by, to some extent, Qing regulations and, to a much larger extent, the fear of other colonizing powers exercising monopolies over trade through their treaty port, preventing American business the open access it desired.

Although it is jumping ahead a few decades, depending on one's stance on cross-straits politics, the United States' support for Taiwan/ROC could also be seen as continued participation in the partitioning of "China."

Again, this is not to discount the role of the British, Japanese etc, who, in my opinion, played a much larger, more aggressive, and likely more painful role in their colonization of Chinese territory. However, to claim that the United States played no role in the partitioning of China is quite simply false.

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crazy-meiguoren
the United States' support for Taiwan/ROC could also be seen as continued participation in the partitioning of "China."

The US supported Taiwan because it had not fallen to Communism. It wasn't a "partitioning" in the sense that the US had a piece of China in Taiwan. It was a result of an ideological battle between the US and Communist states. For decades, the US refused to recognize the PRC as the legitimate government of China. The turnaround began in 1972 when then-President Nixon visited China. A few years later, then-President Carter announced that the US officially recognized the PRC as the sole government of China, withdrawing its recognition of Taiwan as a separate Chinese nation (the US's "One China" policy).

The US still provides significant support to Taiwan, though. I don't know what the US would do if mainland China tried a forceful reunification.

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iXenomorph
The US still provides significant support to Taiwan, though. I don't know what the US would do if mainland China tried a forceful reunification.

Nothing.

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m000gle

@iXenomorph @crazy-meiguoren

This is an interesting hypothetical situation, but not one which is likely to become reality in the foreseeable future. First, China and Taiwan are progressively moving closer economically, so their political differences will become less of an issue. Second, with the mainland's economic clout on the global scale, and even more so within the region, they would more likely just use that power to affect policy making force unnecessary. This is very similar to the way the US uses its economic power around the world today. Finally, the symbiotic economic relationship which exists between the United States and China ("Chimerica") acts as a mutual deterrent to either side acting too drastically.

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eatfastnoodle

Because Brits ruled the waves back then, without British consent or acquiescence , no European nation, except maybe Russia, was capable of carving out anybody.

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