Re­view­ing the His­tory of China-U.S. Re­la­tions in Mul­ti­ple Di­men­sions

A Brief His­tory of China-U.S. Re­la­tions (1784-2013) Au­thor: Tao Wen­zhao Hard­cover, 524 pages Pub­lished by For­eign Lan­guages Press in 2015

China Today (English) - - CONTENTS - By staff re­porter ZHOU LIN

ON Septem­ber 24, 2015, a press con­fer­ence for A Brief His­tory of China-U.S. Re­la­tions (1784-2013) by Tao Wen­zhao was held in Bei­jing.

The book gives a holis­tic pic­ture of the his­tory from 1784 when the Em­press of China, the first Amer­i­can mer­chant ship to voy­age to China, docked at the port city Guangzhou, to June 2013, when Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping and Pres­i­dent Barack Obama met in Sun­ny­lands, Cal­i­for­nia.

Tao Wen­zhao is a se­nior re­search fel­low at the In­sti­tute of Amer­i­can Stud­ies of the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sciences (CASS) and an hon­orary CASS mem­ber. In his years in academia, he has made pro­lific achieve­ments in the his­tory of China-U.S. re­la­tions.

All 11 chap­ters in the book comb cau­tiously through ev­ery es­sen­tial his­tor­i­cal mo­ment on a ver­ti­cal axis.

Bi­lat­eral trade be­gan on Fe­bru­ary 22,1784, a mem­o­rable day in the his­tory of China-U.S. re­la­tions, when the first Amer­i­can mer­chant ship to voy­age to China set sail from New York Har­bor, car­ry­ing a cargo of gin­seng, furs, cam­let, cot­ton, and lead. The ship passed the Cape of Good Hope, tra­versed the In­dian Ocean, and ar­rived in Guangzhou (Can­ton) on Au­gust 28, af­ter a voy­age of 20,900 kilo­me­ters. Their goods sold, the traders took with them tea, silk, and porce­lain, and re­turned by the same route, ar­riv­ing in New York on May 10, 1785. The two coun­tries on ei­ther side of the vast Pacific Ocean, thus es­tab­lished trad­ing re­la­tions.

How­ever, the mer­chant ships that fol­lowed did not al­ways bring com­modi­ties; they in­tro­duced also opium, re­li­gion, and Amer­i­can cul­ture, as well as the Treaty of Wanghia, the Burlingame Treaty, and the Chi­nese Ex­clu­sion Act. A se­ries of his­tor­i­cal events con­cern­ing Sino-U.S. bi­lat­eral re­la­tions are nar­rated.

In the en­su­ing chap­ters, the au­thor records the de­vel­op­ment of bi­lat­eral re­la­tions against a spe­cial his­tor­i­cal back­ground: from the Open Door Pol­icy to the Paris Peace Con­fer­ence and the Wash­ing­ton Con­fer­ence, from wars and rev­o­lu­tions in China to a China-U.S. al­liance against Ja­panese ag­gres­sion, from U.S. in­volve­ment in China’s civil war to the age of con­fronta­tion and iso­la­tion, from a his­toric hand­shake to the nor­mal­iza­tion of China-U.S. re­la­tions, from bi­lat­eral re­la­tions in the Post-Cold War era to the con­struc­tive and co­op­er­a­tive re­la­tions in the new cen­tury, and then to­ward a new-type ma­jor coun­try re­la­tion­ship.

Tao concludes in the fi­nal chap­ter, “The emer­gence of this new-type ma­jor coun­try re­la­tion­ship has not changed the co­op­er­a­tive-com­pet­i­tive na­ture of China-U.S. re­la­tions. From time to time, com­pe­ti­tion over some is­sues might be­come fierce and sharp. But the states­men and peo­ple of the two coun­tries have the po­lit­i­cal wis­dom to man­age the dis­agree­ments, over­come dif­fi­cul­ties, avoid a mu­tu­ally dam­ag­ing sit­u­a­tion, and ad­vance to a new-type ma­jor coun­try re­la­tion­ship.”

Just as many in­ter­na­tional think tanks and schol­ars pointed out, as two ma­jor coun­tries in the world, both China and the U.S. play an im­por­tant role in each other’s diplo­matic poli­cies, and the bi­lat­eral re­la­tions have a huge im­pact on re­gional and global peace, sta­bil­ity, and pros­per­ity. There­fore, we should grasp the main­stream of the bi­lat­eral re­la­tions and so­phis­ti­cat­edly han­dle the dif­fer­ences from a holis­tic view.

A Brief His­tory of China-U.S. Re­la­tion­ships (1784-2013) is a con­densed ver­sion of the three­vol­ume Chi­nese-lan­guage work. An abun­dance of his­tor­i­cal ma­te­ri­als was col­lected from doc­u­men­taries and archives from China, the U.S., the U.K., and Ja­pan, form­ing an in­te­gral frame­work and rea­son­able ar­gu­ment. A his­tory of over 200 years, es­pe­cially the Sino-U.S. re­la­tions since 20th cen­tury, is clearly out­lined. The de­ci­sion process of diplo­matic pol­icy be­tween the two na­tions is un­veiled, in­clud­ing var­i­ous na­tional and in­ter­na­tional fac­tors in­flu­enc­ing the two par­ties’ de­ci­sions. The book re­veals the in­ner force driv­ing the bi­lat­eral re­la­tions for­ward; at the same time it re­flects the fore­front in re­search achieve­ment of Chi­nese academia’s views on Sino-U.S. re­la­tions.

The former U.S. am­bas­sador to China, spe­cial­ist on Sino-U.S. is­sues J. Sta­ple­ton Roy is quoted on the book’s back cover as say­ing, “The pub­li­ca­tion of this his­tory in English will make more ac­ces­si­ble to Amer­i­can read­ers an im­proved mul­ti­di­men­sional un­der­stand­ing of the his­tor­i­cal in­ter­ac­tions be­tween China and the United States that can pro­vide a bet­ter base for man­ag­ing the bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship in the fu­ture.”

Renowned schol­ars whose com­ments fea­ture in the fore­word in­clude War­ren I. Co­hen, a fa­mous his­to­rian and the au­thor of The Cam­bridge His­tory of Amer­i­can For­eign Re­la­tions, Am­bas­sador J. Sta­ple­ton Roy, and David M. Lamp­ton, found­ing di­rec­tor of the Chi­nese Stud­ies Pro­gram of the Nixon Cen­ter.

Rec­om­men­da­tions also come from James K. M. Cheng, Li­brar­ian of the Har­vard-Yench­ing Li­brary; Ezra Vo­gal, renowned Chi­nese ex­pert and former di­rec­tor of Fair­bank Cen­ter for Chi­nese Stud­ies; Akira Iriye, his­to­rian of Amer­i­can diplo­matic his­tory at Har­vard; and Robert Ross, ex­pert on Chi­nese stud­ies at Bos­ton Col­lege.

China In­ter­na­tional Pub­lish­ing Group Pres­i­dent Zhou Ming­wei praised the book as the first vol­ume writ­ten by a Chi­nese au­thor on the his­tory of Sino-U.S. re­la­tions, fully pre­sent­ing the re­search out­comes and aca­demic achieve­ments of Chi­nese schol­ars in this field. The book is ex­pected to help both Chi­nese and for­eign read­ers learn about the past bi­lat­eral re­la­tions, un­der­stand the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion, and mas­ter the fu­ture trend, so as to drive the pro­mo­tion of aca­demic ex­changes and im­prove pub­lic opin­ions and mu­tual recog­ni­tion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.