Asia/Pacific

Writing the Cold War Back In: How History Influences Chinese Foreign Policy

By Gregg A. Brazinsky

As Sino-American relations have emerged as a critical foreign policy issue in the Trump administration, public discourse has been awash with many all too familiar and ill-informed narratives about China and its global objectives. Often, these narratives are derived from overly simplistic views of how China’s past affects the present. Policymakers and journalists have been obsessed with the idea that the People’s Republic of China is trying to reconstruct the “tributary system” or “Sinocentric order” that governed its relations with its neighbors before the 19th century.

US-China Diplomacy: Historical Perspectives on Challenges Confronting the People’s Republic

As Donald Trump and Xi Jinping prepared for what Trump has warned will be a “very difficult” meeting at his Florida resort, several leading historians of modern China gave a richly informative briefing on March 27 at the Capitol about the underlying issues that shape the Chinese government’s engagement with the United States and the world. Sponsored by the National History Center, the purpose of the briefing was to give historical context to current tensions between the United States and China, with a particular focus on Chinese aims and anxieties. 

Why Study Russian History?

By E. Thomas Ewing and Virginia Tech Students enrolled in HIST 3604: Russia to Peter the Great

Last fall, Virginia Tech students taking History 3604: Russia to Peter the Great engaged in a sustained discussion on “why study history?” In the class, we often took examples from current news or recent history and established connections to the historical period covered by the readings, lecture, and assignments (here’s a link to the syllabus). Each week, a group of two or three students wrote a short statement explaining how the readings illustrated the value of studying history, which we then discussed in class.

America’s Quest to Change China: Reflections on the History of US-China Relations

By Terry Lautz

The United States has held great ambitions for China for a very long time. Prior to the 1949 Communist revolution, the American public cherished the idea of China as a Christian, capitalist, and democratic nation.

Western religion would enlighten people who were perceived as backward and heathen; American business would lift the Chinese out of poverty; and liberal education would inspire progressive government. The long-standing missionary impulse to save the Chinese was reinforced when the United States allied with Chiang Kai-shek against Japan during the Second World War.