France and the Open Door Policy

Social Sciences in China (Chinese Edition)

No.4, 2019


France and the Open Door Policy



Ge Fuping


Academics have long seen the open door policy of the end of the nineteenth century as referring to British and American foreign policy, especially America’s China policy. In fact, like “spheres of influence,” the open door policy option was to a great extent common among the great powers. Within France, however, there were however, three different positions on the two policies. The French government’s positive reaction to America’s three open door notes indicated that it would ultimately adopt the open door policy provided its own sphere of influence was protected; hence it supported and endorsed the open door policy. Given that France was dissatisfied by its inability to obtain an advantageous position in the Western powers’ division of China into spheres of influence, it hoped to use the open door policy to expand its interests in China. At the same time, it was also motivated by the wish to get the Western powers to suppress the Boxers while preventing them from taking the opportunity to seize Chinese territory. For the French government, spheres of influence and the open door policy were simply different forms of aggression against China. There was no contradiction between them, and each had its own purpose and uses.