America’s Distorted Image of China

  • Mara Oliva


In his memoir, Present at Creation, Secretary of State, Dean G. Acheson, perfectly captured America’s fascination with China in the early twentieth century: “Hardly a town in our land was without its society to collect funds and clothing for Chinese missions, to worry about those who labored in distant, dangerous and exotic vineyards of the Lord, and to hear the missionaries’ inspiring reports.” The purpose of this chapter is two-fold. First, it presents a historiographical review of Sino-American relations prior to the 1952 Presidential election. To understand US public opinion toward China in the 1950s, it is necessary to look at how Americans developed an idealized image of China and how this, in turn, ill-prepared them for the shock of the communist takeover of the mainland in 1949 and the unexpected North Korean attack on South Korea in June 1950. Second, this chapter analyzes how those illusions affected the US domestic political debate and influenced the 1952 Presidential contest. No other aspect of American foreign affairs was more deeply involved in domestic politics than US-China relations.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mara Oliva
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of HistoryUniversity of ReadingReadingUK

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