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Chinese exclusion laws and the U.S. China relationship

The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, followed by a series of Chinese exclusion laws, barred the Chinese from coming to this country for half a century. While existing scholarship on this topic has focused on American racial politics, this article documents how the U.S.-China relationship impacted the making of Chinese exclusion laws. The thesis is that racist immigration laws reflected not only the domestic situation in America but also China’s international standing and ups and downs in the U.S.-China relationship. The unfair treatment of the Chinese in America had a great deal to do with a divided and weakened China. This linkage between Chinese America and China is a key issue for understanding Chinese American experience.

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