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Introduction: the regional character

Defining Pacific Asia

The term Pacific Asia is relatively new and will be used in this book to refer to the developing countries identified in Figure 1.1. Japan and China will largely be excluded from the discussion: the former because it is now one of the most advanced nations in the world and no longer forms part of the developing countries of the region; the latter because it is so large and complex that another book in this series (forthcoming) is devoted to it. Clearly, however, a regional text on Pacific Asia cannot ignore two important states and the later chapters, particularly Chapter 2, give full recognition to their role in shaping the character of Pacific Asia.

In the past the region covered by this volume has been known, in part or as a whole, by a variety of descriptive terms, viz. East of Suez, the Far East, East Asia, Southeast Asia and so on. The emergence of the term Pacific Asia during the 1980s is a belated recognition of the fact that the global orientation of the countries in the region has changed. Until the Second World War this was a region dominated by colonial interests, most of which were still European. By the 1950s, however, that European influence had ended and the dominant power in the region was the United States.

Economic exploitation and political pressure during the 1950s and 1960s were, therefore, predominantly from across the Pacific. Since the 1970s, however, Japan has emerged as a leading political and economic nation, successfully challenging the United States for power and

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