Open Door Doctrine

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Open Door Doctrine


a policy advanced in notes by US Secretary of State John Hay in 1899 and directed at masking American imperialist policies and consolidating American political and economic rule in China.

In September 1899, Hay addressed notes to the governments of Great Britain, Germany, and Russia, mentioning that US “commercial organizations” wished to maintain an “open door” in China, even in areas already considered “spheres of influence” of various foreign powers. In November, similar notes were sent to the governments of Italy, France, and Japan. Thus, the USA recognized that China had been divided into spheres of influence but demanded that American capitalists be given rights, opportunities, privileges, and tariffs equal to those enjoyed by other powers in their spheres of influence. The replies to Hay’s notes were evasive. Without openly rejecting the open door doctrine, the powers, especially Great Britain and Russia, made various qualifications with respect to its possible application to their spheres of influence. Nonetheless, in March 1900 the US State Department declared that the states questioned by it had agreed to the open door doctrine and that the USA considered their acceptance “final and irreversible.” (This declaration was not refuted by the powers.) At the Washington Conference of 1921–22 the USA won official recognition of the open door doctrine from the imperialist powers in the Nine-Power Treaty (the USA, Great Britain, France, Japan, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Portugal, and China).

The open door doctrine became a tool of expansion for US monopolies in China. Under the Kuomintang dictatorship in China (1927–49), and especially from the end of World War II to 1949, the USA established virtual control over the regime’s policies, as well as over the economy and armed forces of China.

Although it was originally proclaimed with regard to China, the open door doctrine was also applied to other countries as a means of eliminating competitors and as an instrument of colonialist policies.


Efimov, G. V. “Proiskhozhdenie i imperialistich sushchnost’ doktriny ‘otkrytykh dverei.’ ” Uch. zap. LGU: Ser. vostokovedcheskikh nauk, fasc. 5. Leningrad, 1955.
Fursenko, A. A. Bor’ba za razdel Kitaia i amerikanskaia doktrina otkrytykh dverei, 1895–1900. Moscow-Leningrad, 1956.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The US maintained its official position of neutrality during various conflicts between China and the Western powers until the turn of the twentieth century, when Washington's Open Door doctrine intervened and prevented the realization of threats to China's sovereignty and territorial integrity from Western powers and Japan.