Forgotten Diplomacy

The Modern Remaking of Dutch-Chinese Relations, 1927–1950


In this meticulously researched volume, Vincent Chang resurrects a near forgotten yet pivotal chapter of Dutch-Chinese ties to narrate how World War II, the civil war in China, and Indonesia’s decolonization redefined and remade this age-old bilateral relationship.
Drawing on a unique range of hitherto unexplored archives, the book explains how China’s nascent rise on the global scene and the Netherlands’ simultaneous decline as a colonial power shaped events in Dutch-controlled Indonesia (and vice versa) and prompted a recalibration of their mutual ties, culminating in the Netherlands’ recognition of the People’s Republic and laying the foundations for Dutch and Chinese policies through to the present.
Offering insightful analyses of power dynamics and international law at the close of empire, this book is a critical resource for historians and China specialists as well as scholars of international relations.

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Vincent K.L. Chang, PhD (2016), a Dutch lawyer and historian, is Associate Professor of History at Southwest University (China) specializing in modern Chinese history and diplomacy. He also teaches at Leiden University and serves as a fellow of the LeidenAsiaCentre
List of Tables
List of Plates

 1 Dutch Diplomatic History
 2 Chinese Diplomatic History
 3 Merging Histories
 4 Traits of Modern Dutch-Chinese Relations
 5 Aims, Arguments, and Organization of the Book

Part 1: Readjustment

1 Diplomatic Relations During the Prewar Years: 1927–1936
 1 International Context
 2 Development of Bilateral Ties
 3 Dutch Official Representation in China
 4 Chinese Official Representation in the Netherlands
 5 Conclusion
2 Remission of the Dutch Share in China’s Boxer Indemnity
 1 A Watershed Moment
 2 The Central Hydraulic Research Institute at Nanjing
 3 Life, Loss, and Lasting Friendship
 4 Effects and Significance
Plates 1–24

Part 2: Realignment

3 Diplomatic Relations during the War Years: 1937–1945
 1 International Context
 2 Development of Bilateral Ties
 3 Dutch Official Representation in China
 4 Chinese Official Representation in the Netherlands
 5 Conclusion
4 Abrogation of Dutch Extraterritorial Rights in China
 1 The System of Extraterritoriality in China
 2 Extraterritoriality and Dutch-Chinese Treaty Relations
 3 The Dutch-Chinese Treaty of
 4 Effects and Significance
Plates 25–45

Part 3: Reset

5 Diplomatic Relations during the Postwar Years: 1946–1950
 1 International Context
 2 Development of Bilateral Ties
 3 Dutch Official Representation in China
 4 Chinese Official Representation in the Netherlands
 5 Conclusion
6 Recognition of the People’s Republic of China
 1 Early Encounters
 2 The Path to Recognition
 3 Rationales, Response, Result
 4 Effects and Significance
 1 Change and Continuity
 2 Policies and People
 3 Power Dynamics
 4 Past and Present
 5 The Future Past

Appendix 1: Chronology of Major Events

Appendix 2: Overview of Senior Envoys, 1927–1950

Appendix 3: Exchange of Notes Dated 4 April 1933

Appendix 4: Joint Announcement Dated 15 February 1943

Appendix 5: Dutch-Chinese Treaty of 29 May 1945

Appendix 6: Notes on Recognition, March/April 1950


All interested in modern Chinese history and diplomacy (Republican era); historical Dutch-Chinese relations; transnational World War II history; Indonesia’s decolonization and ethnic Chinese in Indonesia; and/or international law and diplomacy.
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