The U.S. War Against Asia
by William P. Meyers

Note: This is a work in progress, and one I am not likely to finish (short of receiving a grant or an offer from a larger publisher) for some time. Everything posted here should be considered a draft. [Main Page, U.S. War Against Asia]

Notes from The Chinese Their History and Culture by Kenneth Scott Latourette. Third Edition Revised. New York. The Macmillan Company. 1950. Copyright 1934, 1946.

These were taken for my work in progress, The U.S. War Against Asia, for the China chapter(s). They reflect my interest in U.S. - China relations and Chinese history that adds color to that relationship.

p344. The industrial revolution caused a renewed expansion of European and American expansionist pressure on China. Britain in particular objected to Chinese customs duties and trade regulations.

p345-346. In 1838 the Chinese got serious about the prohibition of opium imports. The British grabbed Hong Kong in response to pursue their opium trade; British and Chinese warships fought a battle near Hong Kong in November 1839. The war continued until 1842.

346 – 347. Treaties of 1842-1844. The British and Chinese signed the treaty of Nanking on August 29, 1842, opening up 5 ports to trade, ceding Hong Kong, resetting tariff rates, and paying for the destroyed opium. In 1843 a supplementary treaty granted some extraterritoriality. The USA then demanded the right to trade at the five ports. Represented by Caleb Cushing, they got that and the right to extraterritoriality. Other European powers followed suit. “These treaties and edicts provided the legal basis of much of the foreign penetration which the next ninety years were to witness.”

348. Between 1842 and 1855 trade with the U.S. was stimulated by the American emigration into the former Mexican and Indian territory of California. Chinese also emigrated to California, but recruitment was often violent or fraudulent. In Shanghai Americans acquired land that would later become sovereign.

348-349. America, Britain and other powers then demanded more privileges including legalization of the opium trade and the right to have permanent embassies in Peking. The American treaty of 1844 was to be revised in 1856, but the Chinese refused.

349 – 351. War of 1856-1860. This was a contrived war, the pretext being that Chinese customs officers in Canton hauled down the British flag on the Arrow, which was believed to be a pirate ship (October 1856). The British navy attacked Chinese forts guarding Canton. The Chinese retaliated, the French joined the British, their excuse being that the Chinese, earlier in 1856, had executed a French priest in Kwangsi. The U.S.A. claimed the U.S. flag had been treated with disrespect and dismantled forts below Canton in late 1856. The U.S. demanded favorable revisions to the treaty of 1844. The actual fighting in 1857was done by the British and French, who took forts near Tientsin and threatened Peking. The Emperor capitulated, and in 1858 new treaties were signed with Great Britain, France, Russia and the U.S.

351-352. The Treaties of Tientsin opened 10 new ports to trade, established permanent foreign residents in Peking, allowed the propagation of Christianity, extended extraterritoriality, and legalized the opium traffic.

Note that other powers continued aggressions in China, I’m just doing the U.S. bit.

384-386. Open Door Policy. The division of China into spheres of influence frightened the U.S., which preferred the right to penetrate all of China. Britain also preferred access to all of China. The U.S. had acquired the Philippines and Hawaii in 1898. The Open Door policy was put forward by Secretary of State John Hay in 1899. The foreign powers were to stick with a uniform China-wide tariff, even in spheres of interest. Great Britain, Germany, Russia, Italy, France and Japan agreed to these terms.

389-394. Boxer Rebellion. Started with anti-foreigner outbreaks on small scale; by 1899 Christian missionaries were being killed and by 1900 any Christian or foreigner could be attacked. On June 10th 1900 European troops left Tientsin to attack Peking; they were forced back, but took the Taku forts on June 17th. [Latourette does not mention which nations’ troops were involved, but I think the U.S. was included.] At some point Peking was seized by foreign troops.
The settlement in 1901 included Great Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Russia, Austria, Japan, and the U.S. In addition to the usual punishments and apologies China was prohibited for 2 years from the import or arms; the payment of an indemnity equal to $333,000,000 US; destruction of the Taku forts; and amendments in the trade agreements.

394 – 396. The U.S. opposed Russian ambitions in China. The Russo-Japanese war of 1904-1905 was settled with the Treaty of Portsmouth; and China signed on to the transfer of Russian interests in Manchuria to Japan. America’s main interest was keeping China open to American trade. However, the U.S. and Britain found that Japan blocked their activity in Manchuria and Korea. U.S. relations with Japan chilled. The U.S. proposed that Russian and Japanese railways in Manchuria be turned over to China, but this did not work.

p 401. Chinese Republic was declared by the Emperor in February 12, 1912, after the revolution of 1911.

p. 428 – 430 The U.S. retained its extraterritoriality into the 1930’s despite Chinese demands that it end with 1929.

p447 “The events of December 7—8, 1941, while bursting like a bomb upon a startled world, were a climax, not altogether illogical, of a long development.” The U.S.A. had always been opposed to Japan having colonial areas in China, and had taken action by blocking Japan’s takeovers of the Eastern Siberian and the Chinese-Eastern Railway, the Washington Conference and the Nine Power Treaty. The U.S. had led the world in refusing to recognize Manchoukuo.

448 Panay incident. December 1937 U.S. gunboat Panay had a fight with the Japanese.

448 July 1939 U.S. – Japan commercial treaty renounced by U.S, followed by restrictions on sale of petroleum and steel to Japan. July 1941 Chinese and Japanese assets in the United States were frozen. “The United States was unalterably opposed to Japan’s program in China.” But the U.S. was already giving aid to China to fight the Japanese.

449. Japan effectively expelled all non-Asian powers from China by 1942 and trade was cut off.

451. In 1944 U.S. air force bases were established in China to aid the Kuomintang.

452 Cairo Conference of 1943 included Chiang Kai-shek with Churchil and Roosevelt. Chiang maintained concentration camps “for those deemed dangerous politically.”

453 Japan took some steps to turn over important powers to their Chinese puppets, notably turning over control of the port tariff administration and control over foreign enclaves. In 1943 Great Britain and U.S.A. gave up extraterritorial privileges and the U.S. repealed the anti-Chinese exclusion act.

458-459. Trade, China % of external with U.S.: 1913 7.5%. 1929 16.8%. 1932 21.6%. In 1930 U.S. capital investments in China were estimated at $200 to $250 million.

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