February 22, 1784
A ship called the Empress of China became the first vessel to sail from the United States to China, arriving in Guangzhou (Canton) in August. The vessel’s supercargo, Samuel Shaw, had been appointed as an unofficial consul by the U.S. Congress, but he did not make contact with Chinese officials or gain diplomatic recognition for the United States.
July 3, 1844
In 1843, Secretary of State Daniel Webster sent Caleb Cushing to China as Minister Plenipotentiary to negotiate a treaty with the Qing. Cushing hoped to journey to Beijing to conduct these negotiations, but the Qing refused to grant an imperial audience, which delayed the negotiations. He thus spent several months waiting in Macao for permission to travel to Beijing before finally giving up on that hope. Once he did so, the Qing negotiator, Qi Ying, quickly agreed to all the American terms (which were mostly the same as the British) and the two countries signed a treaty.
January 1, 1858
Under the threat of an attack on Beijing from British and French forces, the Qing court agreed to sign new treaties with several foreign powers, including the United States.
January 1, 1862
For two decades the chief U.S. representative in China had resided in either Guangzhou or Shanghai (along with all of the other foreign ministers), but after the implementation of the Treaties of Tianjin foreign legations were finally set up in the capital.
January 28, 1867
In 1867 the Qing decided to send China’s first diplomatic mission to the Western nations in order to renegotiate its treaties, and asked U.S. envoy Anson Burlingame to head the mission. With permission from the U.S. Government, Burlingame resigned his post and led two Qing officials to the United States and Europe.
January 1, 1879
Ulysses S. Grant traveled in Asia in 1879. Grant met with many members of the imperial court, but his most significant meeting was in Tianjin with Li Hongzhang, the powerful Viceroy of Zhili (roughly modern day Hebei province) who, after leading a coup a few years earlier, was among the most powerful statesmen in the Qing court and the de facto leader of its military.
January 1, 1888
Early in 1888, the United States and China signed the Bayard-Zhang Treaty, by which the Qing agreed to prohibit all new Chinese migration for 20 years and limited the classes of Chinese who could return to the United States after a trip home. The agreement did not violate the Burlingame Treaty of 1868 because the United States did not institute the prohibitions, but it drew opposition from the Chinese populace. However, before the treaty was ratified, Congress passed the Scott Act, which canceled the right of return for Chinese residents who left the United States for any reason.
January 1, 1892
This Act extended the Chinese Exclusion Act’s prohibition on Chinese immigration for another ten years (until 1902),
January 1, 1902
The U.S. Congress continued to pass restrictive legislation regarding Chinese immigration; new laws aimed both at preventing the arrival of more Chinese and establishing guidelines for the ultimate removal of all of those already in the United States.
November 12, 1921
The Washington Conferences of 1921-22 focused on settling a number of issues relating to East Asia.