• Mara Oliva


In November 1943, Columbia University professor and China expert Nathaniel Peffer wrote an article for The New York Times Magazine entitled: “Our Distorted View of China,” in which he accused missionaries, businessmen, and other Americans who had lived in China of having a sentimental predisposition about everything Chinese. In his view, that had led to the construction of an idealized image of China, as a country willing to embrace American Christianity, medical aid, and political ideas, that in the end, “more harm than good would come out to Sino-American relations.” The vast historiography on Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Presidency and China policy in the 1950s has often blamed that idealized image of China for US public opinion hostility and the administration’s hard line policy toward the Communist Regime that had taken over China mainland since 1949. The purpose of this chapter is two-fold. First, it provides a review of the current literature on Sino-American relations in the early Cold War. Second, it discusses the challenges encountered and the methodology used in assessing the influence of US public opinion on the administration’s China policy. It argues that the role that popular opinion played in shaping US-People’s Republic of China relations has been greatly understudied and misinterpreted so far. Indeed, through a combination of traditional historical analysis and social science techniques (process tracing and congruence procedure), it is possible to shed new light on Sino-American relations and understand how domestic factors influenced US foreign policy strategy in the Far East and the broader Cold War.


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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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