WHAT'S INSIDE: GLOBAL CONNECTIONS EDITION
Global Connections Edition
HOW TO USE THE U.S/CHINA MEDIA BRIEF
The U.S./China Media Brief seeks to assist media outlets and journalists to cover U.S.-China relations. We offer easily-accessible information materials ranging from online interviews to written articles on Sino-American issues.
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What Happened When: A Timeline


For more than 200 years, Americans and Chinese have played a part in each other’s historical, economic, and cultural development. In the 19th century, many Chinese migrated to the United States during the Gold Rush, and to help build the Transcontinental Railroad, even as the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 reflected the ambivalence of Americans towards Chinese immigrants. American missionaries meanwhile went to China to convert souls and would later end up founding colleges and universities that were the precursors to China’s top universities today.

In the 20th century, politics dominated: the U.S.-China relationship was largely defined by seminal events like the establishment of the Republic of China in 1911, World War II in which the U.S. and China were allies, the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, the subsequent anti-communist Cold-War politics of the U.S., and eventual rapprochement between the two countries.

At the end of the 20th and beginning of the 21st century, economics and trade are once again dominating Sino-American relations: the rise of capitalism in China and its vast structural, political, and economic changes are providing the basis for a renewed and vigorous U.S.-China relationship.

LEGEND:
Usflagsmall Events that took place in the U.S. | Chinaflagsmall Events that took place in China.
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1784
The American cargo ship Empress of China sets sail for Canton with a shipment of ginseng, thus beginning U.S.-China trade.
1785
Earliest record of Chinese in the continental U.S. shows that three seamen on the ship Pallas arrived in Baltimore.
1830
E.C. Bridgman, the first American missionary to China, lands in Canton (Guangzhou). A key player in shaping early Sino-American relations, he becomes the first American expert on Chinese society while introducing the Chinese to Western history and world geography.
1842
The First Opium War (1840 – 1842) ends with the signing of the Anglo-Chinese Treaty of Nanjing, which opens five Chinese cities and cedes Hong Kong Island to the British.
1844
Afraid of being left out of the spoils of war, the U.S. signs the Wangxia Treaty of Peace, Amity, and Commerce with China, ensuring Americans the right of extraterritoriality in Chinese treaty ports and the same trading privileges with China as other foreign powers.
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1848
Gold is discovered in California, sparking a gold rush by Americans, immigrant Chinese and others. Americans establish a foreign concession in Shanghai.
1850
The Taiping Rebellion, a large-scale revolt against the Qing government, and the largest uprising in modern Chinese history, begins. By the time the Qing government, aided by foreign troops, quells the rebellion in 1864, around 30 million lives are estimated to have been lost.
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1863
Thousands of Chinese workers recruited to build the western section of the Trans-continental Railroad, which was completed in 1869, a year ahead of schedule. Anti-Chinese riots start to occur throughout the West until the turn of the century.
1868
The Burlingame Treaty is signed to facilitate trading and emigration between the U.S. and China to ensure a sufficient supply of Chinese labor for the railroads.
1875
The Page Act barred Asian women suspected of prostitution and attempted to regulate contract labor from China.
1879
American missionaries establish their first university in China—Saint John’s University (today part of Fudan University)—in Shanghai. In the next 50 years, American missionaries will establish a total of 13 colleges and universities in China (including Nanking University and Yenching University).
1882
The U.S. Congress passes the Chinese Exclusion Act, which bans immigration of laborers (and their wives) from China for ten years and disallows them from becoming American citizens through naturalization. Leads to a “bachelor society” of Chinese immigrants.
1885
In the one of the worst instances of anti-Chinese violence, white, mostly immigrant miners attack Chinese immigrant miners in Rock Springs, Wyoming on September 2, killing at least 28 Chinese miners and burning 75 Chinese homes.
1898
The U.S. Supreme Court rules in the Wong Kim Ark case that native-born Chinese Americans are entitled to constitutional protection as American citizens.
1899
The anti-foreign, anti-imperialist Boxer Rebellion begins and is stopped in 1901 by an eight-nation alliance including the United States. 230 foreigners, including American missionaries and 9 American marines, and tens of thousands of Chinese are killed, contributing to anti-Chinese sentiment in Europe and the U.S.
1904
The Chinese Exclusion Act is extended indefinitely.
1906
An earthquake and fire devastate San Francisco, destroying government records, and allowing many Chinese to enter the U.S. as “paper sons” claiming native birthrights.
1910
An immigration station is established at Angel Island in San Francisco Bay to process Chinese immigrants until 1940. About 175,000 Chinese were detained.
1911
The Chinese Exclusion Act is extended indefinitely.
1919
The May Fourth Movement was a cultural and nationalistic movement in Beijing on May 4th, 1919, protesting the government’s weak response to the Treaty of Versailles.
1921
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is founded in Shanghai.
1936
American Ruth Harkness brings the first giant panda (“Su-lin”) from China to America.
1937
Outbreak of war between Japan and China; Franklin Roosevelt sends aid to the Republic of China led by Chiang Kai-shek. Japanese troops invade Nanjing and massacre over 300,000 Chinese; western businessmen and American missionaries help shelter fleeing Chinese. The Japanese sink the U.S. Navy gunboat Panay on the Yangtze River.
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1941
U.S. declares war against Japan. From 1942, Chinese Americans volunteer and are drafted into the U.S. armed forces to serve in Europe and the Pacific, including in China at the Burma-Kunming front.
1943
Chinese Exclusion Act repealed for military, political, and economic reasons, but quotas remain.
1943
Wellesley-educated Soong Meiling (wife of Chiang Kai-shek), invited to address the U.S. Congress, appeals to America for war-time support against Japan and succeeds in building American goodwill towards China.
1945
World War II ends. Hostilities between Nationalists and Communists explode into open civil war. In 1946, General George Marshall tries to broker a truce between the Communists and Nationalists but fails.
1949
Chinese Communists defeat Nationalists, establishing the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The Chinese Nationalist government under Chiang Kai-shek establishes the Republic of China with its capital in Taipei, Taiwan. The U.S. recognizes only the Republic of China.
1950
McCarthyism and fighting between the U.S. and the PRC in the Korean War (1950 – 1953) lead to Chinese Americans being viewed as disloyal to the U.S. and a threat to national security. Many Chinese Americans cut contact with the PRC.
1965
The U.S. passes the 1965 Immigration Act, allowing large-scale “family reunification” immigration of Chinese to the U.S. for the first time.
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1966
The Cultural Revolution isolates and immobilizes China, ending in 1976 with Mao Zedong’s death.
1971
Upon invitation from China, the American ping pong team becomes the first Americans to officially visit China since the communist takeover in 1949. Henry Kissinger undertakes secret missions to Beijing to open relations with the Chinese.Upon invitation from China, the American ping pong team becomes the first Americans to officially visit China since the communist takeover in 1949. Henry Kissinger undertakes secret missions to Beijing to open relations with the Chinese.
1972
U.S. President Richard Nixon visits China.
1978
Deng Xiaoping sets China on the path of economic reform.
1979
Deng Xiaoping and Jimmy Carter sign the Joint Communiqué on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations, reestablishing official ties between the two countries.
1982
Chinese American Vincent Chin is killed in Detroit by two white men who mistook him for Japanese and blamed him for the competition that that had taken their auto-industry jobs.
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1987
The first American fast food company (Kentucky Fried Chicken) opens in China.
1989
China suppresses Tiananmen protests; the U.S. condemns the PRC’s violation of human rights and imposes economic sanctions, disrupting Sino-U.S. trade relations. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush issues an Executive Order allowing tens of thousands of Chinese students, visiting scholars, and their families to stay on permanently in the U.S.
1997
Hong Kong becomes part of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China on July 1, under the “one country two systems” formula. Two years later, Macau reverts to Chinese rule after 112 years of official Portuguese rule.
1999
Taiwan-born U.S. citizen Wen Ho Lee who worked at the Los Alamos Nuclear Laboratories is arrested on allegations of giving U.S. nuclear secrets to China; investigators later drop the original charges, and the judge on the case apologizes to Lee.
1999
The American-led NATO bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade severely strains U.S.-China relations.
1999
Wang Zhizhi becomes the first Chinese basketball player to be drafted by an NBA team (Dallas Mavericks).
2000
Congress grants China permanent Most Favored Nation (MFN) status in trade.
2001
A U.S. reconnaissance plane lands on Hainan Island after it collides with a Chinese fighter jet. The U.S. crew of 24 is detained for 11 days until the U.S. issues the “letter of two sorries” to the Chinese government.
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2001
China gains entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO), and is awarded the 2008 Summer Olympics. China strongly supports the U.S. in the war on terrorism following the September 11 attacks.
2002
Yao Ming selected by the Houston Rockets as the number one pick in the 2002
NBA draft.
2008
China suppresses Tibetan protests and riots, leading to a wave of pro- and anti-China protests along the Olympic Torch route around the world. A 7.9 earthquake hits Sichuan Province, killing more than 69,000. China hosts the Beijing Summer Olympics.
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2009
China suppresses Tibetan protests and riots, leading to a wave of pro- and anti-China protests along the Olympic Torch route around the world. A 7.9 earthquake hits Sichuan Province, killing more than 69,000. China hosts the Beijing Summer Olympics.
2009
2009 is a momentous year for China and includes the 50th anniversary of the Tibet Uprising on March 10; the 90th anniversary of the May 4 anti-imperialist movement; the 20th anniversary of Tiananmen on June 4, and the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China on Oct. 1.
2009
Two Chinese Americans are appointed to the Obama cabinet: Steven Chu, Secretary of Energy, and Gary Locke, Secretary of Commerce. Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr. is appointed as ambassador to China.
2010
In the first six months of the year, 13 workers in Southern China commit suicide at Foxconn, one of the largest makers of electronic components for international high-tech giants, including Apple, Dell, and Hewlett-Packard. • In May, disgruntled workers at Honda factories in southern China demand and receive wage increases and better working conditions in the factories. • China surpasses Japan as the second largest economy in the world, behind the United States. • Shanghai hosts the World Expo.
2010
In the first six months of the year, 13 workers in Southern China commit suicide at Foxconn, one of the largest makers of electronic components for international high-tech giants, including Apple, Dell, and Hewlett-Packard.
2010
In May, disgruntled workers at Honda factories in southern China demand and receive wage increases and better working conditions in the factories.
2010
China surpasses Japan as the second largest economy in the world, behind the United States.
2010
Shanghai hosts the World Expo.
2011
President Hu Jintao makes his first state visit to the White House.
2011
In October, a series of Occupy Wall Street-inspired protests occur throughout the country.