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Chinese diplomat V.K. Wellington Koo (1888-1985) was involved in virtually every foreign and domestic crisis in twentieth-century China. After earning a Ph.D. from Columbia University, Koo entered government service in 1912 intent on revising the unequal treaty system imposed on China in the nineteenth century, believing that breaking the shackles of imperialism would bring China into the “family of nations.”

His pursuit of this nationalistic agenda was immediately interrupted by Chinese civil war and Japanese imperialism during World War I. In the 1930s Koo attempted to use international law to force western powers to honor their treaty obligations to punish Japanese expansion. Koo also participated in creating the League of Nations and later the United Nations in the hope that collective security would become reality.

The first full biography of one of the essential figures behind the creation of modern China

Stephen G. Craft is an assistant professor in the Humanities/Social Sciences Department at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida.

"With its wide coverage, this elegantly written book is useful as a diplomatic history of modern China."—China Journal

"A candid, critical biography. . . . Well researched and gracefully written, this is a useful addition to the scholarship of modern Chinese diplomatic history." --Choice

“A welcome antidote to the general depersonalization of history. By focusing on the calculations and dilemmas of one diplomat, Stephen Craft is able to illuminate the harsh challenges and crises that Chinese leaders faced during the first half of the twentieth century."—Qiang Zhai, Auburn University

Publication Date



The University Press of Kentucky.

Place of Publication

Lexington, KY






V. K. Wellington Koo, Chinese foreign relations, League of Nations, Chinese nationalism


Asian History

V.K. Wellington Koo and the Emergence of Modern China
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