Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2013

Document Type




First Advisor

William Wei


V.K. Wellington Koo (顧維鈞) was a uniquely accomplished diplomat whose career in foreign relations spanned seven decades. His career began as English Secretary under Yuan Shikai during the early part of the 20th century and ended when he retired as a judge from the World Court in 1967. This thesis will focus on his tenure as Chinese ambassador to the United States from 1946-1956. I will show that during this period, Koo embodied a unique identity of modern China that was characterized by anti-communist foreign policy and a close relationship with the United States, while rooted in traditional Chinese values and events surrounding the 1919 May 4th Movement. This period (1946-1956) will center on the Chinese Civil War, the outbreak of the Korean War and the alignment of Truman Doctrine principles with the national goals of Chiang Kai-shek and Syngman Rhee, and the redoubling of China Lobby efforts in the early to mid-1950s. I will support my claims through an exhaustive examination of interpersonal correspondences between Koo and American and Chinese elites who influenced foreign policy (e.g., lobbyists, officials, businesspeople, and debutantes). I will also supplement this discussion with biographical works, books on Chinese identity, and articles concerning various global conflicts. My thesis contributes to scholarship on modern China by providing a new biographical lens through which scholars can better understand the factors that influenced the evolution of Chinese foreign policy after WWII and Koo’s role during this turbulent decade.