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Study of the History of Christianity in U.S.-China Relations: A New Departure?

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image of Journal of American-East Asian Relations

Forty years ago, in late December 1968, John K. Fairbank, the longtime dean of American China scholars, gave a memorable presidential address to the annual meeting of the American Historical Association (AHA) in New York City. In it, he urged his fellow historians to take up a task expressed in the title of his address, “Assignment for the 1970s: The Study of American–East Asian Relations.” Although he spoke amid academic upheaval over the Vietnam War, his address made it clear that he was mainly referring to China and Sino-American relations. He described China as .a uniquely large and compact section of mankind…too big and too different to be assimilated into our…culture.. He also argued that .China is too weak to conquer the world but too large to be digested by it.


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