By 1943, ostensible American and Chinese desires for the future of Japan had largely converged. In the years before the start of the American/Japanese war, Japan had followed a pan-Asiatic policy which sought to subordinate China to Japan in the name of regional unity. However, as the war began to turn against the Japanese as early as 1942, Japanese policy makers were compelled to seek the support of the Chinese, rather than their submission. To this end, the Japanese articulated universalistic principals of peace and development parallel to those of the Atlantic Charter, which set forth Allied war aims. The principal differences between these strategies vary with time. Among the more enduring differences: the Americans were willing to establish China as an equal with the great international powers, while the Japanese remained more focused on the regional balance of power.

Diplomacy throughout the Eastern sphere was characterized by improvisation on both sides. The United States grew to support China as a ‘world policeman’ in large part out of recognition that Chinese leaders had the option of siding with the Japanese; the Japanese offered support for the opposite reason. This allowed the Chinese to play the two powers off each other. President Roosevelt tried to hide the ad hoc nature of this support by pointing to great (and largely fictional) common traditions between the U.S. and China. This farce became less necessary as the war progressed.

Relations with China fluctuated with the military success of America and Japan. As The U.S. grew more powerful in Asia, we needed to make fewer concessions to the Chinese in order to secure their allegiance. The Japanese, correspondingly more desperate, became increasing generous in their terms.

By early 1943, the Japanese were returning control of many managerial functions to the Chinese (though in North China, particularly, these changes were more form than substance), By September of that year, the Japanese had come to stress Chinese sovereignty in their propaganda. In the Great East Asia Conference of November, the Japanese granted in part that they desired the elimination of racial discrimination and the promotion of international development and trade. (At the same time, the universality of the Japanese policy was belied by the remaining four doctrines of the Conference. These were of a pan-Asian nature.) During this time, the U.S. was moderating its universalistic policies at least insofar as they challenged the British Asian empire.

This was my homework for History 1650b on April 13, 1993

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