What has been the impact of Donald J. Trump’s presidency on the place of the United States in East Asia? Trump already has shown a proclivity for upending the mainstream American consensus about grand strategy to East Asia, with the real possibility of a trade war with China or a shooting war with North Korea on the horizon. However, this article will place President Trump’s first year in office into a larger context of long-term decline of U.S. leadership and influence in East Asia, arguing that this trend has been underway for quite some time, and that Trump has not altered fundamentally this trajectory. Some of Trump’s actions may accelerate a decline in U.S. leadership, but by no means was Trump the first nor will he be the last U.S. president to deal with a swiftly changing East Asia. The region has been changing rapidly for decades, and there are no indications that this will stop anytime soon. However, continuing and gradual U.S. withdrawal from leadership does not mean less American-East Asia interaction. East Asia will remain the most important trading and investment region for the U.S. for the foreseeable future.
Kristopher C. Erskine
The China Lobby in the United States attracted much scholarly attention after 1945, yet it found its footing in the late 1930s and played a critical role in re-shaping American public opinion prior to World War ii. Historians have devoted relatively little time to investigating this earlier period. The overwhelming majority of China’s lobbyists during these early years were American missionaries who the Chinese government often funded and managed. This article examines the role of two of those missionaries—Frank and Harry Price—and their American Committee for Non-Participation in Japanese Aggression. It relies on research in Taiwan, China, and in archives across the United States. The author also has interviewed members of the Price family, as well as former associates of Frank Price in the United States, Taiwan, and China. The evidence this article presents demonstrates that while difficult to quantify, the Price brothers played a crucial role in helping to re-shape American public opinion about China between 1938 and 1941.
James I. Matray
In the early 20th Century, the Taft administration and the Qing Empire developed a working relationship that went beyond transactional “Dollar Diplomacy” to include military engagement. Military and official visits, arms contracts, and opportunities for military education signaled a shift away from both President Theodore Roosevelt’s pro-Japanese policies and the Qing Empire’s isolation from the international order. The massacre of over three hundred Chinese at Torreon, Mexico in May 1911 inadvertently assisted this rapprochement, which presented the Qing Dynasty with an opportunity to demonstrate power and influence when it dispatched the cruiser Hai Qi to the Caribbean. The swift response to the massacre shows that Qing diplomats were capable of using an integrated and mutually reinforcing set of legal, diplomatic, and military tools to attain their political objectives. The incident also demonstrates that the Taft administration was willing to allow a foreign military vessel to coerce Mexico for monetary gain in a direct violation of the Monroe Doctrine. The Qing Empire’s very effective use of gunboat diplomacy revealed a highly competent Chinese government, as well as how u.s. officials arranged a sophisticated rapprochement with Imperial China in the 1909–1912 period.
This article uses primary sources from China, Taiwan, and the United States to chronicle the history of the Shanghai Mint and u.s.–China monetary interactions during the 1920s and early 1930s. It focuses on the period immediately preceding the well-known Silver Purchase Act of 1934 and the Nationalist government’s decision to abandon the silver standard in favor of a managed currency, the fabi, in November 1935. The article highlights the importance of u.s. advisors, particularly mint technician Clifford Hewitt and Princeton University professor Edwin Kemmerer, in debates about whether China should adopt the gold-exchange standard or stay on the silver standard, as well as their role in the elimination of the silver tael (liang) as a unit of account. The article demonstrates the long-standing interest of the United States in Chinese currency reform and shows how, in the 1920s, this interest often manifested itself in the interactions between Chinese officials and conduits like Hewitt and Kemmerer, rather than monetary missions that the u.s. Congress approved as had been the case in the early 1900s. Finally, the article traces the goals of successive Chinese governments to exercise more control over the currency of modern China and the role of u.s. advisors in that process.