East Asia Unit Assignment
1. Why has the issue of U.S.-China relations taken on greater importance in recent years?
The issue of relations between the two countries has taken on greater importance due to recent advancements in China. Despite the country’s successful reform, its approach to concepts such as trade and the rights of their citizens has yet to change. For example, Chinese president Hu Jintao is not interested in accepting Western political ideals. Like every other country, he is only interested in what benefits his own government. The United States feels the same way, and is hoping for some changes to take effect. Otherwise, its own economy will be affected by China’s resistance. The possibility of a trade war is looming, but should be avoided at all costs. China is now a force to be reckoned with, what with its impressive military. In addition to having the world’s largest army, it intends to advance its nuclear weaponry. This means China is highly likely to take on other countries, the United States being no exception.
2. Why did the Opium War of 1839 - 1842 mark a turning point in China’s relations with the outside world?
The Opium War marked a turning point in China’s relations with the outside world because they were forced to interact with another country. Prior to the opium trade, they were self-sufficient, and wanted nothing to do with anyone but their own people. After the disastrous test run, they were determined to shut everyone out. However, the British force kept the Chinese doors open for business. This led to other countries worming their way into Chinese territory, much to their dismay.
3. How did the values and the policies of the United States contribute to the rise of Chinese nationalism?
Because the United States was so determined to make its mark, the country inadvertently contributed to nationalism in China. Every policy they designed was blatantly in favor of the West, and left the Chinese feeling mistreated. To make matters worse, the allied Western countries terrorized China, going as far as to burn down a palace. The Chinese retaliated against the results of the attacks by revolting.
4. What were the main reasons that the United States made little effort to support the government of Chiang Kai-shek against the communists in the late 1940s?
During World War II, the United States made it a priority to support Chiang Kai-shek’s government during their dispute with the communists. After the war, however, the relationship between two countries drastically changed. The United States had grown stronger, and had plenty of other issues to worry about. China had since switched paths, what with the communists steadily gaining power. Mao Zedong disapproved of the United States’ support, and set to work dismantling Chiang’s rule. After Chiang Kai-shek fled to modern day Taiwan, the United States was advised to leave the country alone.
5. What was the impact of the Korean War on U.S.-China relations?
When the Korean War began, the United States wasted no time defending Formosa, bringing along other countries to assist in the anti-communist fight. Despite a truce being formed, the relationship between America and China worsened. The United States was already wary of the country due to their ties with the Soviet Union. They declined to recognize China, and formed an alliance with the anti-communist Kuomintang government.
Still fighting the United States’ influence, Mao was determined to erase all evidence of their presence in China. He forced American establishments out of the country, and welcomed the Russians, even going as far as to make Russian the new official foreign language. Meanwhile, the military was working hard to brainwash American wartime prisoners. The United States policy was heavily focused on halting China’s growth. America began forming alliances with China’s surrounding countries, pledging to fight back. However, their efforts…