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From Allies to Enemies

From Allies to Enemies

Visions of Modernity, Identity, and U.S.–China Diplomacy, 1945–1960

Simei Qing

ISBN 9780674023444

Publication date: 02/28/2007

In a stunningly original work about the impact of cultural perceptions in international relations, Simei Qing offers a new perspective on relations between the United States and China after World War II.

From debates over Taiwan in the Truman administration to military confrontation in Korea to relations with the Soviet Union, Qing explores how policies on both sides became persistently counterproductive. Implicit moral and cultural values became woven into policy rationales for both China and the United States. Cultural visions of modernity and understandings of identity played a critical role in each nation's evaluation of the other's intentions and in defining interests and principles in their diplomatic relationship.

Based on American, Russian, and newly declassified Chinese sources, this book reveals rarely examined assumptions that were entrenched in mainstream policy debates on both sides, and sheds light on the origins and development of U.S.-China confrontations that continue to resonate today. Simei Qing also provides a compelling look at the vital role of deeply anchored visions in the origins of human military conflicts.


  • Simei Qing is the most extraordinary historian to come out of China since the floodgates opened in the 1980s. In this long-awaited book, she uses important new Chinese sources, Guomindang as well as Communist, and her training in the sociology of knowledge to provide remarkable insights into Chinese–American relations in the 1940s and 1950s. The study of Chinese–American relations will never be the same.

    —Warren I. Cohen, author of The Asian American Century


  • Simei Qing is Associate Professor of History and International Relations, James Madison College, Michigan State University.

Book Details

  • 410 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press