How the China Trade Helped Make America

Amid waves of China bashing in the U.S. presidential election campaign, Eric Jay Dolin, the author of “When America First Met China”, recalls the honeymoon period of Sino-American trade in the early 19th century. From The Daily Beast:

Between 1784, when the Empress of China blazed the trail, and the end of the War of 1812, nearly three hundred American ships made a total of 618 voyages to Canton.

These ships carried cargoes of ginseng, sea otter and fur seal skins, opium, sandalwood, and Spanish silver dollars, which were used to purchase Chinese tea, silk, porcelain, and other exotic items.

[…] The China was an early engine of American investment. The most prominent and successful China merchants plowed their millions into a wide array of business ventures—including railroads, banks, and mining ventures—that helped build America’s nineteenth-century economic and industrial might. And many China merchants invariably became philanthropists, leaving behind lasting legacies.

[…] So, when you read the heated, and often overblown news coverage on the tribulations of the modern China trade, bear in mind that we have been trading with China for more than 225 years, and in many ways, that has been a good thing.

See more on Sino-U.S. relations via CDT.


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