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How Chinese communism gave American conservatives something to believe in.

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It was all about the United States, in its capacity as a democratic entity, a capitalist entity, and how it could preserve its position of power. China was presented as this detriment to the narrative of American hegemony, and conservatives today still adopt that line, in the sense that what is best for the United States is best for the world.

Historian Joyce Mao examines the long, shifting influence of China (as both threat and promise) on American conservatism - from McCarthyite Republicans looking for a political identity, to the muddled, ambigous ideas of today's GOP presidential candidates - and explains how it drew in blueprints for a conservative agenda of unilateral foreign policy and military expansion paid for by cuts to domestic spending.

Joyce is author of Asia First: China and the Making of Modern American Conservatism from University of Chicago Press.

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Joyce Mao

Joyce Mao is an associate professor of history at Middlebury College.

 

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