United States Foreign Relations with China during World War Two: Cultural Clash

Fukuda, Julia
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University of Hawaii at Manoa
United States' foreign relations with China during World War II reflects a direct encounter with a country of an entirely different culture and heritage. In many ways the diplomatic relations that were the result of the war time situation reflected the things that can happen when people of different countries must work together but who unfortunately do not understand each other. In the wartime situation the aim of the contacts between Americans and Chinese lay in what could be accomplished militarily. In the urgency and uncertainty of the situation, the differences in mentality and in ways of accomplishing set goals became a fact that could not be ignored. It is the purpose of this paper to examine the reactions of American foreign service and military personnel as they worked in China, based on the assumption that they were twentieth century citizens trying to work in a technologically underdeveloped and traditional society that could not respond to those who expected her to perform feats that only a ''modern nation", such as Japan or the United States, could do. The differences between the Chinese and Americans that were crucial were those that reflected the difference in industrialization and technological development between the two countries. This spelled the difference between a modern and traditional society. The war goals and foreign policy objectives of the United States did not take these into consideration and thus, the practicality of American foreign policy goals in China can be questioned. The theme of this paper is that the incongruity of the goals in China led to frustration, confusion, and an inability to focus on the crux of the problem that the foreign service representatives were confronted with. Thus, the last part of this paper will examine the reactions of some of these people as they worked in China.
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