Spring 2024 | Asia, Africa, and Europe Exploration

HIST 466 U.S.-China Relations Since 1800 [CRN 21030]

Overview of Course

Relations with China have been important to the US from its beginning. They have evolved as young America grew, and as the Qing dynasty declined into internal chaos of the early 20th century. America’s attempt to mediate the KMT-CCP civil war failed and the CCP established the PRC in 1949. US-China relations froze during the Cold War. With Nixon’s visit to China in 1972, Mao’s death in 1976, and the rise of Deng Xiaoping from 1978, the US and China normalized relations and expanded powerful commercial and cultural collaborations. Three decades of mutual engagement began to turn after the financial crash of 2008. Under the more assertive foreign policies of Xi Jinping from 2012, the US- China relationship became more contentious and mutually mistrustful.

What are the historical underpinnings of this vacillating relationship? How have our perceptions of one another changed over the decades? How do both nations construe their national interest in economic, security and political terms vis a vis the other? Are the US and China destined for greater conflict, including a possible war over Taiwan? Or can both global super-powers accommodate each other’s presence and aspirations in Asia and the world?

This course aims to give students a broad historical understanding of US-China relations. We will study not only the evolving state-to-state relationship, but also the growing economic, social, cultural and media interactions between non-state actors. In the final quarter we will reflect back over the course and concentrate on mutual perceptions between US and China.