In the 1890s, the United States had become an East Asian power through the acquisition of the Philippine Islands, and when the partition of China by the European powers and Japan seemed imminent, the U.S. government strove to preserve equal industrial and commercial privileges. Secretary of State John Hay sent (1899) notes to the major powers (France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, and Russia), asking them to declare formally that they would uphold Chinese territorial and administrative integrity and would not interfere with the free use of the treaty ports within their spheres of influence in China. In replying, each nation evaded Hay's request, taking the position that it could not commit itself until the other nations had complied. However, in Mar., 1900, Hay announced that the powers had granted consent to his request. Only Japan challenged this declaration, and the Open Door became an international policy. After the Boxer Uprising, Hay dispatched (1900) a similar circular note.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.