Skip to main content

Made in China: When US-China Interests Converged to Transform Global Trade

Date & Time

May. 6, 2024
4:00pm – 5:30pm ET


Online Only
Zoom Webinar


Made in China asks how China, the world’s largest communist nation, converged with global capitalism. Most scholars point to Deng Xiaoping and the reform and opening he implemented in the 1980s. But Ingleson shows that it was in the latter years of Mao’s rule that China’s convergence with capitalism began. From the early 1970s, when the United States and China re-opened trade, the interests of US capitalists and the Chinese state gradually aligned: at the expense of US labor and aided by US diplomats. Far from inevitable, she argues, China’s convergence with global capitalism hinged upon a fundamental reconfiguration of the very meaning of trade. For centuries, businesspeople had seen in China the promise of “400 million customers”: to them China trade meant expanding exports. In the 1970s, US and Chinese traders together reframed the China market itself: to a new promise of outsourced manufacturing and 800 million workers.

Elizabeth O’Brien Ingleson is an assistant professor in the International History department at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Prior to her appointment, she was a Henry Chauncey Jr. ’57 Postdoctoral Associate at Yale University’s International Security Studies. She has held fellowships at the University of Virginia and Southern Methodist University and earnt her Ph.D. in history from the University of Sydney. She has published widely on US-China relations and US capitalism including the award-winning article, “Invisible Hand of Diplomacy: Chinese Textiles and American Manufacturing in the 1970s,” published in the Pacific Historical Review in summer 2021. Ingleson serves on the editorial board of the journal Cold War History.

The Washington History Seminar is co-chaired by Eric Arnesen (George Washington University) and Christian Ostermann (Woodrow Wilson Center) and is organized jointly by the American Historical Association and the Woodrow Wilson Center's History and Public Policy Program. It meets weekly during the academic year. The seminar thanks its anonymous individual donors and institutional partner (the George Washington University History Department) for their continued support.


Elizabeth O’Brien Ingleson

Elizabeth O’Brien Ingleson

Assistant Professor in the International History Department, London School of Economics and Political Science


Margaret M. Pearson

Margaret M. Pearson

Dr. Horace E. and Wilma V. Harrison Distinguished Professor, and Distinguished Scholar-Teacher in the Department of Government and Politics, University of Maryland, College Park

Hosted By

History and Public Policy Program

The History and Public Policy Program makes public the primary source record of 20th and 21st century international history from repositories around the world, facilitates scholarship based on those records, and uses these materials to provide context for classroom, public, and policy debates on global affairs.  Read more

Kissinger Institute on China and the United States

The Kissinger Institute works to ensure that China policy serves American long-term interests and is founded in understanding of historical and cultural factors in bilateral relations and in accurate assessment of the aspirations of China’s government and people.  Read more

Wahba Institute for Strategic Competition

The Wahba Institute for Strategic Competition works to shape conversations and inspire meaningful action to strengthen technology, trade, infrastructure, and energy as part of American economic and global leadership that benefits the nation and the world.  Read more

Thank you for your interest in this event. Please send any feedback or questions to our Events staff.