The China Mirage: The Hidden History of American Disaster in Asia
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James Bradley introduces us to the prominent Americans--including FDR's grandfather, Warren Delano--who in the 1800s made their fortunes in the China opium trade. Meanwhile, American missionaries sought a myth: noble Chinese peasants eager to Westernize.
The media propagated this mirage, and FDR believed that supporting Chiang Kai-shek would make China America's best friend in Asia. But Chiang was on his way out and when Mao Zedong instead came to power, Americans were shocked, wondering how we had "lost China."
From the 1850s to the origins of the Vietnam War, Bradley reveals how American misconceptions about China have distorted our policies and led to the avoidable deaths of millions. The China Mirage dynamically explores the troubled history that still defines U.S.-Chinese relations today.
government, supported by the Gestapo and headed by an unbalanced man with little education. We had plenty to say against such a system. China, our ally, was being run by a one-party government and supported by a Gestapo and headed by an unbalanced man with little education. This government, however, had the prestige of the possession of power—it was opposing Japan, and its titular head had been built up by propaganda in America out of all proportion to his deserts and accomplishments.6 The War
that took place late one February night after Chiang’s soldiers had cordoned off the Bund, Shanghai’s Wall Street. A file of coolies with bamboo poles across their backs balanced wrapped packages of gold bullion as Chiang absconded with the small portion of China’s gold wealth that Ailing Soong had not yet extracted. In her book Shanghai, Stella Dong wrote, “Chiang Kai-shek’s henchmen made Shanghai’s last weeks under Nationalist rule a nightmare of disorder and brutality.” One American witnessed
regime; he’d be playing into Mao’s hands. Roosevelt’s recommendation that Chiang move away from an army-dominated rule of repression to an accommodating populist New Deal liberalism must also have amazed the Generalissimo. Ailing Soong had allied China’s richest family with Chiang precisely because he had a large club and would use it to beat out the liberal flames that Mao had lit in Chinese hearts. Like Chiang’s Anti-Opium Suppression Bureau that was actually Ailing’s opium monopoly, the
Mercenaries,” about the first 160,000 English soldiers to die in World War I; they were called mercenaries because, unlike the draftees that followed them, they were a paid prewar army. Corcoran wrote that Roosevelt “was moved by the poem’s wisdom. It bolstered his determination to act.”12 Tommy and the Skipper cooked up a scheme that utilized private front companies to recruit and pay American pilots outside of government channels (a process the CIA would later call sheep-dipping). U.S. Army
through Ailing’s front companies. Claire Chennault was a private contractor—a mercenary—being paid by the China Lobby. Roosevelt was sheep-dipping: taking U.S. personnel, cleansing them with the fiction of their resignations, and then sending them off as secret mercenaries. Today, many mistakenly believe that Chennault’s mission was an American invention controlled by the U.S. military, but when he returned to Asia, Chennault reported back to Washington not through American military channels but