Burlingame Treaty

Burlingame Treaty
   A treaty between the United States and China opening the United States to Chinese immigration. It was negotiated by U.S. Secretary of State William H. Seward and a Chinese commission that included Anson Burlingame, signed on July 28, 1868, and proclaimed on February 5, 1870.
   China was in the throes of dynastic decline, which European nations eagerly attempted to exploit. Out of altruism and self-interest, the United States followed an “ open door ” policy opposing infringements on Chinese sovereignty. After the Civil War, American interests in China focused on cultivating the “China market,” protecting American missionaries, and securing labor for American economic development. The treaty guaranteed most-favored nation treatment for Chinese in the United States and Americans in China and permitted unrestricted immigration of Chinese into the United States while withholding naturalization rights. The United States pledged noninterference in Chinese domestic affairs and granted Chinese consuls in U.S. ports diplomatic equality with European consuls. Finally, Americans in China and Chinese in the United States were guaranteed freedom of religion.
   The treaty improved Sino-American relations and the environment for American merchants and missionaries in China. By encouraging Chinese immigration, the treaty helped to meet labor needs in the United States while exacerbating racial tensions.
    Anderson, David L. “Anson Burlingame: American Architect of the Cooperative Policy in China, 1861–1871.” Diplomatic History Vol. 1/3 (1977): 239–255;
    Bevans, Charles I., comp. Treaties and Other International Agreements of the United States of America 1776-1949. Vol. 6. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1971.

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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