1st Edition

The Role of American NGOs in China's Modernization
Invited Influence

ISBN 9781138022751
Published March 13, 2014 by Routledge
240 Pages 11 B/W Illustrations

USD $62.95

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Book Description

In the waning years of the Cold War, the United States and China began to cautiously engage in cultural, educational, and policy exchanges, which in turn strengthened new security and economic ties. These links have helped shape the most important bilateral relationship in the late-twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.

This book explores the dynamics of cultural exchange through an in-depth historical investigation of three organizations at the forefront of U.S.-China non-governmental relations: the Hopkins-Nanjing Center for Chinese and American Studies, the National Committee on United States-China Relations, and The 1990 Institute. Norton Wheeler reveals the impact of American non-governmental organizations (NGOs) on education, environment, fiscal policy, and civil society in contemporary China. In turn, this book illuminates the important role that NGOs play in complementing formal diplomacy and presents a model of society-to-society relations that moves beyond old debates over cultural imperialism. Finally, the book highlights the increasingly significant role of Chinese Americans as bridges between the two societies.

Based on extensive archival research and interviews with leading American and Chinese figures, this book will be of interest to students and scholars of Chinese politics and history, international relations and transnational NGOs.

Table of Contents

Introduction  1. The Hopkins-Nanjing Center for Chinese and American Studies  2. The National Committee on United States-China Relations  3. The 1990 Institute  4. Invited Influence in the Policy Sphere  5. Nurturing Civil Society 6. The Impacts of Educational Exchange 7. Conclusion

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Norton Wheeler is Assistant Professor of U.S. and Asian History at Missouri Southern State University, USA.


"This lucid and thoughtful book steps away from tired arguments over "cultural imperialism" to show that in China’s "state-led civil society" groups from abroad, even overseas Chinese, gain leverage only through "invited influence." Wheeler goes behind the scenes to show that the Hopkins-Nanjing Center for Chinese and American Studies, the National Committee on United States-China Relations, and The 1990 Institute were successful only when they worked within the realities of the Chinese scene. Wheeler offers lessons for other NGOs, educational institutions, and businesses." - Charles W. Hayford, Editor, Journal of American-East Asian Relations

"Norton Wheeler’s superb research, theoretical sophistication regarding development and modernization, and historical acumen – intellectual and scholarly qualities rarely found combined in one author – yield a major work that is indispensable for the study of the US-China tie as it binds or unwinds in the 21st century." - Martin J. Sklar, Emeritus Professor of History, Bucknell University, USA.

"Examining the roles of three major American NGOs in promoting mutual understandings between the United States and China, Dr. Wheeler’s study sheds lights on a rarely explored yet vitally important aspect of the U.S.-China relationship. This book is extremely valuable for anyone who is interested in transnational studies or America’s relations with China, which has become unarguably the most significant bilateral relationship in our rapidly globalizing world." -Xiao-huang Yin, Author of Chinese American Literature since the 1850s

"The international influence on Chinese policy making is a fascinating topic, and this book helps scholars understand some of the factors impacting policy makers in such an opaque environment. I would recommend the book to diplomatic historians, faculty teaching Chinese politics courses, and especially any non-profit organization or university considering launching new initiatives in China. Wheeler offers an invaluable history of best practices for establishing these occasional initiatives with Chinese partners." - Jessica Teets, The China Quarterly (Volume 214), June 2013.

"The Role of American NGOs in China’s Modernization is a very useful and informative book about how Americans have contributed to China’s development, and as such the book should be read by students and scholars interested in Sino-US relations and NGOs, particularly at a time when US-Sino relations occupy the centre stage." - Dingding Chen, University of Macau, China (China Information 2013, Volume 27, November 2013)

"The Role of American NGOs in China's Modernization focus[es] on the broader framework of ...Chinese-Western relations, rather than seeing things in terms of Western impact and Chinese response. Much work remains to be done in this fascinating subfield, and Wheeler's book is essential reading for anyone attempting to delve in." - Zachary Friedman, H-Diplo, June 2015.