Washington History Seminar | Made in China: When US-China Interests Converged to Transform Global Trade

Event Details

End: May 6, 2024

Made in China asks how China, the world’s largest communist nation, converged with global capitalism. Most scholars point to Deng Xiaoping and the reform and opening he implemented in the 1980s. But Ingleson shows that it was in the latter years of Mao’s rule that China’s convergence with capitalism began. From the early 1970s, when the United States and China re-opened trade, the interests of US capitalists and the Chinese state gradually aligned: at the expense of US labor and aided by US diplomats. Far from inevitable, she argues, China’s convergence with global capitalism hinged upon a fundamental reconfiguration of the very meaning of trade. For centuries, business people had seen in China the promise of “400 million customers”: to them China trade meant expanding exports. In the 1970s, US and Chinese traders together reframed the China market itself: to a new promise of outsourced manufacturing and 800 million workers.

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Elizabeth O’Brien Ingleson is an assistant professor in the International History department at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Prior to her appointment, she was a Henry Chauncey Jr. ’57 Postdoctoral Associate at Yale University’s International Security Studies. She has held fellowships at the University of Virginia and Southern Methodist University and earnt her Ph.D. in history from the University of Sydney. She has published widely on U.S.-China relations and U.S. capitalism including the award-winning article, “Invisible Hand of Diplomacy: Chinese Textiles and American Manufacturing in the 1970s,” published in the Pacific Historical Review in summer 2021. Ingleson serves on the editorial board of the journal Cold War History.

Margaret M. Pearson is Dr. Horace E. and Wilma V. Harrison Distinguished Professor, and Distinguished Scholar-Teacher in the Department of Government and Politics, University of Maryland, College Park. Pearson’s research on China's domestic politics focuses on state control of firms and the economy, central-local bureaucratic relations, and environmental policy. On Chinese foreign policy, Pearson’s ongoing projects examine reactions to China's overseas economic activities, determinants of Beijing’s behavior in global institutions, and climate change governance. She teaches courses on Chinese domestic politics and foreign policy, and on comparative politics. She has held a Fulbright Research Fellowship at Beijing University. Pearson received a Ph.D. in Political Science from Yale University and was an Associate Professor with tenure at Dartmouth College before moving to UMCP in 1996. Her books include China's Strategic Multilateralism: Investing in Global Governance (with Scott Kastner and Chad Rector, Cambridge University Press, 2019), China's New Business Elite: The Political Results of Economic Reform (University of California Press, 1997), and Joint Ventures in the People's Republic of China (Princeton University Press, 1991). Her articles appear in Journal of Politics, World Politics, International Security, Security Studies, Foreign Policy Analysis, World Development, Public Administration Review, Governance, Studies in Comparative International Development, Review of International Political Economy, China Journal, China Quarterly, and Journal of Contemporary China.