Despite serious difficulties caused by the civil war in China and the military confrontation in Korea, over 1,200 Chinese students and scholars returned from the United States (U.S.) to their homeland in the 1950s. While the effort made by the returnees and the Communist regime has been studied, the role played by the U.S. government remains unclear. Relying mostly on archived government documents and published individual recollections, this paper shows that Washington provided most of its assistance to the Chinese students through the emergency aid program, which not only covered all the educational costs for about three quarters of them, but also paid travel expenses for about two thirds of the returnees. In addition, Washington assisted many students in obtaining visas from the British government for their transfer in Hong Kong and offered them room, board, and other services while they were waiting for their transportation in San Francisco. The examination of the helping hand extended by Washington to these returning Chinese students can enhance our understanding of the complex and dynamic nature of Sino-American relations during the Cold War.

In: Frontiers of History in China