The International History of East Asia, 1900-1968: Trade, Ideology and the Quest for Order

The International History of East Asia, 1900-1968: Trade, Ideology and the Quest for Order

The International History of East Asia, 1900-1968: Trade, Ideology and the Quest for Order

The International History of East Asia, 1900-1968: Trade, Ideology and the Quest for Order

Synopsis

This book provides a broad account of the international history of East Asia from 1900 to 1968 - a subject that is essential to any understanding of the modern epoch. Whereas much of the scholarship on this subject has focused purely on the immediate origins and consequences of violent events such as wars and revolutions, this book demonstrates the importance of also considering other forces such as ideology, trade and cultural images that have helped shape East Asian international history. It analyses how the development of the region was influenced by ideological competition and 'orientalism', by both multilateral and unilateral efforts to instil order, and by the changing nature of international trade. It considers a number of important topics such as the concept of the 'open door'; the rise and influence of progressive internationalism in the forum of the League of Nations; the development of anti-colonial nationalism and anti-Western internationalism in the shape of pan-Asianism; and the onset of the Cold War. It also includes detailed case studies of subjects including the administration of the Chinese Maritime Customs Service; the international effort to regulate the trade in opium; and the significance of intra-Asian trade. Overall, this book constitutes an impressive account of the international history of East Asia, and is an important contribution to the interpretive study of this crucial period of history.

Excerpt

Antony Best

The international history of East Asia in the twentieth century is a subject that is essential to any understanding of the modern epoch. Its significance for modern world history can most obviously be explained in two ways: first, that the region was from the 1890s onwards the scene of fierce competition between the European Powers for access to its markets, and, second, that the interest displayed by Europe led the leading indigenous states in the region, Japan and China, to fear for their security and provoked them into co-opting modernity and transforming themselves into Great Powers in their own right. As a result of this Great Power competition for influence, East Asia became for much of the twentieth century a flash-point of national rivalries second only to Europe itself and thus exerted a profound impact on international politics. For example, the battle for control of the region played a major role in shaping the two conflicts, the Second World War and the Cold War, which defined the nature of the second half of the century. Thus to comprehend why the Second World War proved to be the pivotal event in the collapse of European hegemony one must look at the rise of imperial Japan and the threat that its quest for regional predominance posed to the British, French and Dutch presence. Furthermore, to grasp why the Cold War became such a dangerous conflict in the 1950s and 1960s one has to study the emergence of Communist China and its poisonous rivalry with, first, the United States and, then, the Soviet Union.

The fascination with the rise of Japan and China as Great Powers and with their frequently turbulent interaction with the West has naturally meant that international historians of Eastlb />Japanese War, the Pacific War and the Korean War from every conceivable angle. However, the tendency to concentrate on the immediate origins, course and consequences of wars can produce a simplistic reading of regional history, where national security and military outcomes are the sole determinants. The obvious danger in this is that one can lose sight of other significant forces, such as ideology and trade, which helped to shape the history of the region. This is important for it is clear that the potent challenge that the region posed to European imperialism existed in political and ideological as well as military forms . . .

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