This article examines the response by U.S.-educated Chinese to the international debate over the recognition of the Republic of China. In their private and public writings, these students viewed China’s struggle for recognition as part of the country’s bigger problem of securing allies in a world overpowered by imperialism and exploitation. While certain that the “monarchical powers” of Europe and Japan were using recognition as a tool to further extort the Chinese government, the students stressed that the United States could be counted on to stand up for China, based on the United States’ purported commitment to freedom and fairness. The question of recognition ultimately became a test of the Open Door Policy, which the students interpreted as a U.S. guarantee of Chinese sovereignty. This article provides a fresh interpretation of the recognition of the Chinese Republic while also reframing the Open Door by linking it to the notion of U.S. exceptionalism.

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