The China Mirage: The Hidden History of American Disaster in Asia

The China Mirage: The Hidden History of American Disaster in Asia

James Bradley

Language: English

Pages: 432

ISBN: 0316196681

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

"Bradley is sharp and rueful, and a voice for a more seasoned, constructive vision of our international relations with East Asia." --Christian Science Monitor

James Bradley introduces us to the prominent Americans--including FDR's grandfather, Warren Delano--who in the 1800s made their fortunes in the China opium trade. Meanwhile, American missionaries sought a myth: noble Chinese peasants eager to Westernize.

The media propagated this mirage, and FDR believed that supporting Chiang Kai-shek would make China America's best friend in Asia. But Chiang was on his way out and when Mao Zedong instead came to power, Americans were shocked, wondering how we had "lost China."

From the 1850s to the origins of the Vietnam War, Bradley reveals how American misconceptions about China have distorted our policies and led to the avoidable deaths of millions. The China Mirage dynamically explores the troubled history that still defines U.S.-Chinese relations today.


















same course of life and progress.”5 Emperor Meiji. To deal with the West’s threat, he did what no other Asian leader did: he built a modern military-industrial complex. (Mary Evans Picture Library / Everett Collection) Japan required large amounts of American oil and steel to build its modern Western-style military-industrial complex. Beginning soon after Commodore Perry opened Japan and, except for 1941 to 1945, continuing until recently, Japan has been America’s number-one Asian customer.

China Hand John Davies—born in China and fluent in Chinese—later wrote that Roosevelt “was essentially ignorant and opinionated about China. He had a concept of China’s place in the scheme of things which overrode Chinese realities.”36 FDR believed that China could become a “great country” if the United States treated Chiang Kai-shek as a great ruler. And if all went well, China would become America’s best friend in Asia. T. V. Soong penetrated the Roosevelt administration with the assistance of

evacuated to Haiphong, French Indochina, but Service remained in Kunming, as he had unique survival skills: he had been born in 1909 in China (Chengdu, Sichuan Province) to missionary parents who lived in a traditional Chinese compound. Service was an intelligent and precocious child, bilingual and fascinated by China. By the time he was ten years old, he was taking thirty-mile strolls through the Chinese countryside, chatting his way across various warlords’ territories. Service also met other

coolie blood” and noted that “in the midst of it all the Soong family carries on its intrigues which sometimes disgust me completely.”23 On September 4, 1937, George Haas, director of research and statistics in the Treasury Department, wrote to Secretary of the Treasury Morgenthau, “It would appear then that the peace of the world is tied up with China’s ability to win or to prolong its resistance to Japanese aggression. It is our opinion that a Japanese victory increases greatly the chances of

built the Great Wall to keep northern intruders out, never imagining their kingdom would be humbled by sea barbarians who had gained entry through distant Canton. Thus began the First Opium War, which lasted until 1842. Back in America, Delano’s congressional representative John Quincy Adams told the country that opium smuggling was “a mere incident to the dispute; but no more a cause of the war than the throwing overboard of the tea in Boston harbor was the cause of the North American

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