Sino-U.S. relations over the last 230 years have been marred by wars, diplomatic rows and xenophobia. But the desire for trans-Pacific trade has, in the end, always trumped cultural and ideological differences.

1784 Empress of China, the first U.S. ship to trade with China, arrives in Canton (now Guangzhou) after a six-month voyage, carrying 2,600 fur pelts and 30 tons of ginseng. It returns home with cotton, porcelain, silk and tea, earning the ship's owners about $30,000 in profits

1849 Following the discovery of gold in California, some 150,000 Chinese sail to the U.S. A...

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