America's China Trade in Historical Perspective: The Chinese and American Performance

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Ernest R. May, John King Fairbank
Harvard Univ Asia Center, 1986 - Business & Economics - 388 pages
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This volume explores commercial relations between the United States and China from the eighteenth century until 1949, fleshing out with facts the romantic and shadowy image of "the China trade." These nine chapters by specialists in the field have developed from papers they presented at a conference supported by the national Committee on American-East Asian Relations.

The work begins with an Introduction by John K. Fairbank, then moves on to analysis of the old China trade up to the American Civil War, centering on traditional Chinese exports of tea and silk. A second section deals with American imports into China--cotton textiles and textile-related goods, cigarettes, kerosene. Finally, the impact of the trade on both countries is assessed and the operations of American-owned and multinational companies in China are examined. For both the United States and China, the economic importance of the trade proves to have been less than the legend might suggest.

  

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Contents

Chinese Teas to AmericaA Synopsis
11
The Boom Years of the Fukien Tea Trade 18421888
33
The ChineseAmerican CottonTextile Trade
103
Commercial Penetration and Economic Imperialism
151
The United States Petroleum Trade with China
205
The Minor Significance of Commercial Relations Between
237
The Impacts of American Multinational Enterprise
259
Notes
295
Bibliography
343
75
375
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About the author (1986)

Born in South Dakota, John King Fairbank attended local public schools for his early education. From there he went on first to Exeter, then the University of Wisconsin, and ultimately to Harvard, from which he received his B.A. degree summa cum laude in 1929. That year he traveled to Britain as a Rhodes Scholar. In 1932 he went to China as a teacher and after extensive travel there received his Ph.D. from Oxford University in 1936. Between 1941 and 1946, he was in government service---as a member of the Office of Strategic Services, as special assistant to the U.S. ambassador to China, and finally as director of the U.S. Information Service in China. Excepting those years, beginning in 1936, Fairbank spent his entire career at Harvard University, where he served in many positions, including Francis Lee Higginson Professor of History and director of Harvard's East Asian Research Center. Fairbank, who came to be considered one of the world's foremost authorities on modern Chinese history and Asian-West relations, was committed to reestablishing diplomatic and cultural relations with China. He was also committed to the idea that Americans had to become more conversant with Asian cultures and languages. In his leadership positions at Harvard and as president of the Association for Asian Studies and the American Historical Association, he sought to broaden the bases of expertise about Asia. At the same time, he wrote fluidly and accessibly, concentrating his work on the nineteenth century and emphasizing the relationship between China and the West. At the same time, his writings placed twentieth-century China within the context of a changed and changing global order. It was precisely this understanding that led him to emphasize the reestablishment of American links with China. More than anyone else, Fairbank helped create the modern fields of Chinese and Asian studies in America. His influence on American understanding of China and Asia has been profound.

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