U.S. ECONOMIC DIPLOMACY IN EAST ASIA: THE FALL OF CHINA AND THE RECONSTRUCTION OF JAPAN, 1945-1950
THE STORY OF U.S. policy in East Asia during the Truman era is full of ironies. Although the Pacific War had originated in the competition between Japan and America over the markets and resources of the Far East, the United States took steps after the war both to reconstruct Japan and to secure Japanese economic interests in the region. And while the United States had fought the war in the Far East firmly resolved to subjugate Japan and to elevate China to great power status, just five years after VJ Day it was equally determined to restore Japan as a regional power and to undermine China. Finally, while American planners consistently ranked Europe above Asia in strategic importance, U.S. troops became engaged in the first shooting war of the Cold War in Korea, a peripheral corner of Asia.
The key goals of the United States in East Asia at the end of the war were to eradicate Japanese militarism, prevent Japanese domination of the regional economy, and restore China as a sovereign power. Secondarily, the United States sought to contain Soviet expansion, accelerate the decolonization of Southeast Asia and other European dependencies, and preserve East Asian markets for American business. As in Europe, U.S. economic policies served larger political and strategic objectives, in this instance the integration of East Asia into the world economy.