8.5 China’s Political Relationships - Coggle Diagram
8.5 China’s Political Relationships
Throughout its history, China’s official relations with other countries have been complex
Sometimes, China has adopted official policies of isolationism.
In recent history, there have been two main efforts to open a closed China.
3. China and the U.S.
Relations between China and the United States have often been tense. When the Chinese Communist party won control of China in 1949, the United States would not acknowledge that government.
For more than 20 years, the United States instead recognized the government of the Republic of China (Taiwan) as the true government of China. Most other countries did the same. Due to this, China was isolated, or once again, “closed.”
Thoughts gradually changed in the United States. There were several reasons for this.
First, it was clear that China was creating nuclear weapons and was becoming a military power.
Next, there was some hope that the United States and China could become allies. If this happened, it was hoped that they could work together against the Soviet Union. It was also hoped that as a side effect, the United States’ problems in Vietnam, North Korea and elsewhere in Southeast Asia would improve.
Lastly, it was hard to ignore that China was already nearing a billion people. These people were potential customers for American products and services.
2. China and the Opening of Trade
European interest in Chinese products started around 1500. Demand increased through the next several centuries. Interest was high for such valuable items as tea, silk, and porcelain.
There was little demand in China for European products such as tobacco and corn. China had little need to import these items.
China had little need to import these items. The government regulated the import of western goods completely. Only the port of Canton was open to foreign ships.
In Canton, merchants were legally allowed to deal only with a few government representatives. No direct trade with Chinese merchants was permitted.
China also began to apply large and complicated tariffs. European goods were so heavily taxed that there was no demand for them in China.
British merchants were the main source of the drug. They continued to trade it despite Chinese law. To show how serious they were about stopping the opium trade, China closed Canton Harbor to foreign ships.
The British were furious. They attacked China in 1840 with devastating effectiveness. This became known as the First Opium War.
China was no match for Britain’s naval strength. There was little choice but to negotiate for peace. The First Opium War ended with the signing of the Treaty of Nanjing.
As part of this deal, the British also gained control of Hong Kong. The treaty also opened five ports to foreign ships. Trade resumed.
The Treaty of Nanjing and other later treaties with the United States and France restructured trade. Tariffs were outlawed, ports opened, and laws limiting trade were pulled back. China had been forcefully “opened.”
China presents a challenge to the world. There is much about it - languages, perspectives, customs, etc. - that many in the U.S. often find difficult to understand.
The elements that often tie countries together in some way, such as a shared history, shared language, shared religion, shared ways of life, do not exist between China and the U.S. China’s government and legal system often behave in ways that are somewhat mysterious and sometimes disturbing to most Americans and Europeans.
Further, China has actively resisted becoming Westernized. There is no doubt that China is a military and economic power in the world, though, so getting along with China is important to most countries in the world.
Therefore, the question of whether and how to influence China on matters such as human rights and environmental protection has been a difficult one for many countries.