American Images of China: Identity, Power, Policy, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

American Images of China

Identity, Power, Policy, 1st Edition

By Oliver Turner


226 pages

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The United States and China are arguably the most globally consequential actors of the early twenty first century, and look set to remain so into the foreseeable future. This volume seeks to highlight that American images of China are responsible for constructing certain truths and realities about that country and its people. It also introduces the understanding that these images have always been inextricable from the enactment and justification of US China policies in Washington, and that those policies themselves are active in the production and reproduction of imagery and in the protection of American identity when seemingly threatened by that of China.

Demonstrating how past American images of China are vital to understanding the nature and significance of those which circulate today, Turner addresses three key questions:

  • What have been the dominant American images of China and the Chinese across the full lifespan of Sino-US relations?
  • How have historical and contemporary American images of China and the Chinese enabled and justified US China policy?
  • What role does US China policy play in the production and reproduction of American images of China?

Exploring and evaluating a wide-ranging variety of sources including films and television programmes, newspaper and magazine articles, the records and journals of politicians and diplomats and governmental documents including speeches and legal declarations this work will be of great interest to students and scholars of US foreign policy, American politics, China studies and international relations.


'This is a captivating alternative history of US-China relations that span four centuries. Skilfully weaving together two hitherto mutually neglecting literatures in this field: the imagery literature and the policy literature, this important book fills a critical gap in our knowledge of how certain American constructions of China periodically resurface across time and how US China policy is both enabled by, and reproduces, those China imageries.' - Chengxin Pan, Deakin University

'Oliver Turner’s book is the first to show how socially constructed images of China and Chinese people have come to systematically impact US policy towards that country across the entire history of Sino-US relations. At a time when China is beginning to be globally assertive, politically and militarily, Dr Turner’s book is an important exploration of one of the contextual reasons why we should be pessimistic about the future of Sino-US geo-political relations. This is an excellent book that deserves to be widely read.' - Jeffrey Henderson, Professor of International Development, University of Bristol

'The book is based on a dissertation; the research is comprehensive, and the bibliography is excellent. Scholars worldwide will find this work useful, as will policy makers in the US and elsewhere. Turner's conclusions are thoughtful and point to the need for Americans to better understand China as the two nations progress through the 21st century. A splendid addition to the reading lists of advanced seminars in Sino-American relations … Summing Up: Highly recommended. Graduate students, faculty, professionals.' -D. L. Wilson, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, CHOICE

Table of Contents

1. Introduction 2. State of the Art and Theoretical Approach 3.American Images of China, 1776-1882 4.American Images of China, 1882-1949 5. American Images of China, 1949-1979 6.American Images of China, 1979-present 7. American Images of China, the Obama presidency and beyond 8. Conclusion

About the Author

Oliver Turner is Hallsworth Research Fellow, University of Manchester, UK

About the Series

Routledge Studies in US Foreign Policy

This new series sets out to publish high quality works by leading and emerging scholars critically engaging with United States Foreign Policy. The series welcomes a variety of approaches to the subject and draws on scholarship from international relations, security studies, international political economy, foreign policy analysis and contemporary international history.

Subjects covered include the role of administrations and institutions, the media, think tanks, ideologues and intellectuals, elites, transnational corporations, public opinion, and pressure groups in shaping foreign policy, US relations with individual nations, with global regions and global institutions and America’s evolving strategic and military policies.

The series aims to provide a range of books – from individual research monographs and edited collections to textbooks and supplemental reading for scholars, researchers, policy analysts, and students.

Learn more…

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