A Short History of China and Southeast Asia: Tribute, Trade and Influence

By Martin Stuart-Fox | Go to book overview

8
COMMUNISM AND
THE COLD WAR

On 1 October 1949, Mao Zedong proclaimed the People's Republic of China (PRC) and informed the world that: ‘Ours will no longer be a nation subject to insult and humiliation. We have stood up.’ 1 Victory over the Nationalist forces of the Guomindang was all but complete. Chiang Kaishek and his Nationalist government had fled to Taiwan. A new and mighty communist state had been born, just days after the Soviet Union exploded its first nuclear weapon, into a world already deeply divided by the Cold War.

In Southeast Asia, Thailand had already reverted to military rule and sought alliance with the new hegemonic power in the region, the United States. Taking its lead from Washington, Bangkok continued to recognise the Republic of China (ROC) on Taiwan. So too did the newly independent Philippines, also closely aligned with the US and fighting its own communist insurgency. Independent Burma recognised Beijing in December 1949, the first Asian state to do so despite then combating both communist and ethnic Karen insurgencies. A few months later, independent Indonesia also hesitantly recognised

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