..transcending the need for facts, experience, and details

FDR was recklessly predisposed to help China. Because of his family’s old ties to the Shanghai opium trade, which his relatives never tired of ressurecting as evidence of their worldliness and sagacity, the President seemed to think he had a comprehension of China transcending the need for facts, experience, and details. Like many other Americans who imagined themselves to be old China hands, not least among them Henry Luce, FDR had a highly colored and idealized image of the Orient.  Knowing this through their diplomatic representatives in Washington, both T.V. Soong and H.H. Kung had taken advantage of their government posts in Naking over the years to write letters to Roosevelt, cultivating him, sending him gifts of tea that – with shrewd calculation – were not sufficiently ostentatious to be turned down as a bribe. T.V. had also sent Roosevelt the wooden model of a Hainan junk. These contacts had had the desired effect. T.V. was a foreign identity that the White House recognized. Now that he had adopted FDR’s cronies as his own, and was cultivating them shrewdly and lavishly, T.V. had a direct pipeline into the Oval Office.

– Sterling Seagrave, The Soong Dynasty (1985)

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