On December 16, 1773, Americans and Chinese hardly knew each other. Yet, both took part in the historic Boston Tea Party that heralded the American Revolution (1775-1783).
Well before 1773 Chinese tea had already filled American teapots on a daily basis. As a matter of fact, the Chinese tea trade was a major source of income for New Englanders. Imagine their indignation at the tea tax slapped on them by the British.
In a typically American way, Bostonians threw King George III a tea party. Incidentally the tea dumped into the Boston Harbor was shipped from Xiamen, Fujian. Wasn't it a Chinese Tea Party, after all?
Let's fast-forward to 1776, the year 56 American Founders signed their death warrant otherwise known as the Declaration of Independence.
A leading Declaration signer, General George Washington was desperately looking for financing. As a former British colonel, he understood too well that his Revolutionary army was marching on its stomach. No serious war was cheap.
However, the French were not yet quite ready to invest in the American Revolution. The belligerent British had the Atlantic Ocean as their pond. So? Go east! The China trade made tons of sense and cents.
In Peking (Beijing) the Qing court had no idea what the American Revolution was about. Indeed, Chinese couldn't care less. But, they cared about the astonishing range of exotic merchandise coming from a distant corner of the world. Chinese paid silver coins for America's seal skins, otter pelts, sandalwood, sea cucumbers, and ginseng. Yes, Chinese have a very long history of consuming American ginseng. (Here, for historical accuracy, I must add that some Americans did join their British rivals in the opium trade.)
Taking advantage of Qing officials' corrupt practice, Washingtonian America enjoyed impressive trade surpluses that tided it over till a better tomorrow. Unknowingly, China had contributed significantly to the American cause.
A good read: