An Ordinary Relationship: American Opposition to Republican Revolution in China

By Daniel M. Crane; Thomas A. Breslin | Go to book overview

4
Chinese Nationalism and the Fight for Economic Independence

THE establishment of a financial monopoly in the China market allowed the financiers to pay greater attention to questions of security for their investment. While external conditions were increasingly favorable to high profits, internal conditions threatened heavy losses. To protect its possible financial investment, the United States adopted an extremely hard-line approach to the loan negotiations and to the matter of financial control, both of which threatened to endanger Sino-American relations.

Fundamentally, most high American officials had an unfavorable opinion of the Chinese and their state system. Minister Calhoun, for example, believed that the Chinese were "notoriously improvident and inefficient in all public financial matters" and were given to bribery and embezzlement. "The everlasting 'squeeze' poisons the life of the people, perverts public effort, diminishes the public revenues and corrupts the public administration," he wrote. "The Chinese are like children in financial matters--they want to do silly things like build bridges across the Yangtze as memorials to the Revolution." Even were the Chinese mature, Calhoun felt, the decrepit nature of the Chinese revenue system would likely render security devised for the loan ineffectual. E. T. Williams, the well-respected China expert of the American legation in Beijing, enumerated the reasons for this decrepitude, including the failure of the provinces to remit revenue to the

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