What three key beliefs about America's industrially driven, capitalist economy were reflected in the Open Door Policy?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The Open Door policy was depicted as a desire to maintain Chinese Sovereignty. However, it became clear that Secretary of State Hay's policy was really designed to maintain economic interests. This demonstrated how the fundamentals of capitalism coopted national policy, ensuring that government was responsive to the needs  of those in economic power.

One belief regarding American industry and capitalism that was evident in the Open Door policy was the preservation of commerce.  Capitalism is predicated upon the idea that market needs to be free and "open for business."  This belief was seen in the Open Door Policy, which "aimed to secure international agreement to the U.S. policy of promoting equal opportunity for international trade and commerce in China."  In this very understanding, one sees how a belief of American industrial capitalism was evident.  Another key belief regarding American capitalism seen in the Open Door policy was the idea that capitalism knows no boundaries.  As the nation moved from farms to factories, capitalism and industry were developing all over it.  The question arose as to what happens when the mainland territory runs out. This is where American expansionism and imperialism became the foreign policy of the day. Such a foreign policy ensured that American economic interests would be preserved by expanding around the globe.  This becomes a critical aspect of the Open Door Policy, as international consortiums were established in order to generate capitalist commercial ventures.  American industry was a means to negotiate with other nations, and the Open Door Policy represented the capitalist idea that when more money can be made by more people, the economic system is more sustainable.  Finally, the Open Door Policy represented how capitalism makes everything subject to the laws of economic supply and demand. American foreign policy became geared towards the accumulation of wealth through the Open Door Policy.  This reflected a key belief about the American industrial capitalist economy.  The entire premise of American capitalism in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries centered on how the needs of the few overwhelm all other considerations. The entire sovereignty and self- determination of China was kept in check because of economic interests.  This becomes a critical belief and operational understanding regarding American industry.  This belief, one that underscores the basis of capitalism, is evident in the Open Door Policy.

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