U.S. - China Relations - Long Time Ago
China is an old country if not the oldest independent country never totally annihilated in history. China has nearly five thousand years of written or recorded history with 12 chronologically ordered dynasties even when she was invaded. China with her ‘Chinese’ people is very resilient in absorbing, adapting and molding their environment, both physical and social, into a culturally integrated society even when she was conquered several times in history. Most notably were the Mongolian and Manchurian invasions. Mongolians conquered nearly one third of the world. To the West all the way to the Central Europe crushing Hungary (battle of Mobi, 1241). The Great Khan died in December and the invasion halted, then resumed, and seized Baghdad, the Middle East in 1258. To the South, the Mongols invaded then divided China (Jin, West Hsia, South Soon and East Hsia) starting 1205 against West Hsia till defeating South Soon and establishing Yuan Dynasty (1276-1351). Some Chinese escaped to Tran Dynasty (Today’s Vietnam) and helped them to resist the Yuan. Then Yuan was toppled by the uprising Chinese peasants mainly due to high taxation, four-class system discriminating Han people. Eventually, the Mongols became one of the 56 minority races in China Today.
The U.S. is relatively a young country consisting of mainly immigrants from England, then Europe and Africa and Asia over the past five hundred years. The Western historians claimed that Columbus first came to America in 1492 and discovered the Native American Indians (about 1.5 million at that time). Today about 6.8 million native Indians (less than 2%, Chinese Americans about 4m) live among 350 million US population, However, there are increasing evidence showing that America might be found by Chinese earlier than by Columbus. The evidences are: (1) ancient Chinese map showing California coast line and sequoia tree leaves, (2) ancient Chinese artifacts discovered in N. America, (3) Chinese ancient language carvings found on old stones in the mountain states of the U.S., (4) giant stone anchors discovered at the California coast attributed to one being used by General Zhang He of Ming Dynasty who sailed around the world seven times in giant size ships (ten times as big as Columbus boats, 1405-1433), (5) some evidence of similarity of DNA sequence linking American Indians and central mainland Chinese people (He Nan Province) and (6) the greeting language Native Americans used, How (Hao), sounds the same as the Chinese greeting language, 好 (Hao). The U.S. Library of Congress had held a conference on this subject, ‘Who first discovered America’ (May 16, 2005). So despite of the Columbus story, the short history of the U.S. and long distance between the two great nations, the U.S. and China may be far more closely related than historians recognize.
We may safely suggest that the U.S.(America)-China relations may have started a long time ago than most people knew, in a very peaceful manner, no battles, no invasions, no colonies, and no wars. However, the events happening in the most recent century or so seem to lead the two nations to rival. Hindsight, one can compare the impact of the great voyages Christopher Columbus and Zheng He made and ask the question: Which kings started the colonialism and religious wars? The answer clearly is: not the Ming Emperor for sure!
History Prior-to WW I on U.S.-China Relation
Towards the end of 19th century and the turn of 20th century, the U.S. and China are like (metaphorically) a growing teenager and a sick old man. The U.S. was blessed with her vast productive farmland and rich natural resource, her economy was growing fast while the European powers were expanding their imperialism with wars. The expansion of colonialism in America, Africa and Asia was the solid proof. In 1823, the U.S. President Monroe delivered his famous speech warning the European Powers to stop their expansion and colonialism in America, known as the Monroe Doctrine. The U.S. foresaw the consequences of colonialism in South and North America, potentially a threat to the U.S. On the basis of her growing economical and military strength, the U.S. declared the Monroe Doctrine, but she was not absent from participating in the colonialism happening in Asia, specifically when the Great Britain along with other European Powers, including even the aggressive Asian island country Japan, began to carve out influence and control territories in China. In resisting colonial expansion in America, the U.S. eventually had a war with Spain over the incident of sinking the ship, Havana. (4-25-1898). The U.S. won the Spanish War and forced Spain to sign the Paris Treaty (12-10-1898) relinquishing her colonial control over Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippine islands, Guam and other territories. Spain lost her colonial empire but the U.S. gained the control of the above named territories up to today, except Cuba and the Philippines, they became independent countries.
In 19th century, the Qing Dynasty was corrupt with weak emperors incompetent in foreign affairs, hence the history witnessed a rapid decay of her empire. The last two young emperors were essentially a puppet of Queen Ci Xi who actually ruled 47 years (1861-1908) before the collapse of Qing. The Qing dynasty faced revolutionary uprisings and lost several foreign wars, first Anglo-Sino Opium War (1839-1842, Nanking Treaty, subsequently the U.S. and China signed the Wangxia Treaty), Second Opium War (1856-1860, Tianjin Treaty, the U.S. and China signed in 1858), Eight Nations War (1900, the U.S. was one of the eight) and Sino-Japan War (1894-1895, Maguan Treaty, Taiwan was ceded to Japan), all unfair treaties granting foreign countries access to markets, ports, free duties, war reparations and ceding territories such as Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, etc. The Chinese Revolution led by Sun Yat Sen eventually toppled the Qing Dynasty and established the Republic of China (10-10-1911). The new Republic was still under the pressure of the foreign powers and the unequal treaties. For instance, in the Maguan Treaty, Japan not only demanded war reparation equivalent to seven years of Japanese annual national budget but also demanded Taiwan and Liaoning Peninsula (which was canceled because of the objection from Russia and Germany thinking Japan was too greedy and encroached their own interest in north China).
Russia and Japan had been at odds over their ambition of controlling China’s Manchuria region (1899-1913), eventually Japan launched a surprise attack on Russian navy at port Arthur (This and the future Pearl Harbor surprise attack ought to be a lesson remembered about Japanese sneaky military strategy) triggered the Russo-Japan War (1904-1905). The Japanese navy gained advantage over Russian navy but at a heavy cost both in terms of casualty and military expense. Japan asked the U.S. (President Ted Roosevelt) to negotiate a peace treaty, known as Portsmouth Treaty (negotiation held in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, U.S.A.). The U.S. was very generous with China’s property, essentially let Russia and Japan both have some control in north China. (History confirms that there is no justice in international affairs. Every nation thinks for itself based on its military and economic strength. While the U.S. advocate the Monroe Dctrine to keep the colonial powers out of America, she did not mind at all in participating in colonial deals in Asia.
(To Be Continued in Part II)