Courtesy Reuters

The Open Door in China: a Reappraisal

FOREIGN policy is influenced by persons in government, and may be influenced by persons outside government, but only in a superficial sense is it "made" by them. It is the product of geographical, political, racial, religious and economic forces, some of which may change but most of which are constant, and which play upon a people until they take an attitude toward the rest of the world. That attitude may be aggressive or submissive or coöperative. It may be "right" or "wrong." It may lead to success or failure. Political leaders do not create it so much as stimulate and direct it. Hitler did not make the Germans aggressive; Churchill was not the architect of British steadiness; nor did Roosevelt make the Americans economically powerful, mercurial, warm-hearted -- I leave it to our friends or our enemies to supply the characterizing adjective. Each successful political leader knows instinctively what his people are, or what they want; and, for better or worse, leads them in the direction that the vast majority of them want to go.

Is there any area of foreign policy today in which such considerations are so relevant as in our policy toward China? China is in process of profound political and economic change, but change there comes tortuously and slowly. In Chinese-American relations, then, it is particularly necessary to provide for the long haul. Many persons say that we have no settled policy toward China, and they are forever calling on the State Department to "make up its mind." But they confuse policy with the day-to-day conduct of affairs. Press dispatches, even official communications, sometimes obscure the pattern. One does nevertheless exist, despite temporary variations, and it goes back 150 years. The American policy toward China was well conceived originally, I believe, because it accorded with the fundamental attitudes of the American people; and it is precisely because the present situation in China is so unsettled and perplexing that this is the very time for us to emphasize

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