Open Door Policy

The Open Door Policy is a term in foreign affairs initially used to refer to the United States policy in the late 19th century and 20th century outlined in Secretary of State John Hay's Open Door Note, dispatched in 1899 to his European counterparts. The policy proposed to keep China open to trade with all countries on an equal basis; thus, no international power would have total control of the country. The policy called upon foreign powers, within their spheres of influence, to refrain from interfering with any treaty port or any vested interest, to permit Chinese authorities to collect tariffs on an equal basis, and to show no favors to their own nationals in the matter of harbor dues or railroad charges.

The Open Door policy was rooted in desire of American businesses to trade with Chinese markets, though it also tapped the deep-seated sympathies of those who opposed imperialism, especially as the policy pledged to protect China's territorial integrity. While the policy was originally aimed to safeguard Chinese sovereignty and territorial integrity from partition, it was mainly used to mediate competing interests of the colonial powers without much meaningful input from the Chinese. Thus, the Open Door policy had little legal standing and created lingering resentment; it has since been seen as a symbol of national humiliation by many Chinese historians.

In more recent times, Open Door policy describes the economic policy initiated by Deng Xiaoping in 1978 to open up China to foreign businesses that wanted to invest in the country. This policy set into motion the economic transformation of modern China.

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American History

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The Gilded Age and Progressive Era (1877-1929)

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