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The empire declined in the 15th century after the rise of Islamic states in coastal Java, Malay peninsula and Sumatra. By the eight century, less than years after the establishment of Islam in Arabia , the first traders and merchants who adhered to Mohammad's prophecies reportedly appeared in Maritime Southeast Asia. Certain is also, that Islam did not play a notable role anywhere in the archipelago or Indochina before the 13th century.

In addressing the issue of how Islam was introduced into Southeast Asia, most historians have elaborated various scenarios along an Arabia to India and India to Southeast Asia sequence. Opinions vary on the identity and method of the agent. Either Arabian traders and scholars, who did not live or settle in India arrived directly in island Southeast Asia, or Arab traders, that had been settling in coastal India and Sri Lanka for generations. Muslim traders from India Gujarat , converts of South Asian descend and ethnicity are variously considered as to have played a major role.

A number of sources propose the South China Sea as another "route" of Islam introduction. Arguments for this hypothesis include:. In a EU publication of the European Commission Forum an inclusive attitude is being maintained: "Islam spread in Southeast Asia via Muslims of diverse ethnic and cultural origins, from Middle Easterners, Arabs and Persians, to Indians, and even Chinese, all of whom followed the great commercial routes of the epoch.

Research has several answers as to what caused the distinct syncretic its modern expression is cultural Islam , as opposed to Middle Eastern and North African political Islam Islam in Southeast Asia, that allowed the continuation and inclusion of elements and ritual practices of Hinduism , Buddhism and ancient Pan-East Asian Animism.

Southeast Asia and the great powers /Nicholas Tarling. – National Library

Most principalities had developed highly distinctive cultures as a result of centuries of active participation in the cultural interchange and by borrowing from the flow of ideas that criss-crossed the archipelago, coming from across the Indian Ocean in the west and the South China Sea in the east. Cultural and institutional adoption was a creative and selective process, in which foreign elements were incorporated into a local synthesis. Unlike some other "Islamised" regions like North Africa , Iberia , the Middle East and later northern India , Islamic faith in Southeast Asia was not enforced in the wake of victorious territorial conquests , but followed trade routes as with the Islamisation of Turkic Central Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, southern India, north west China.

The idea of equality before God for the Ummat the people of God and a personal religious effort through regular prayer was more appealing to the average person than the perceived fatalism [90] of the Hindu pandemonium. However, Islam also taught obedience and submission, which guaranteed that the social structure of a converted people or political entity hardly saw any fundamental changes. There are various records of lay Muslim missionaries, scholars and mystics, particularly Sufis who were most active in bringing about a peaceful proselytisation.

Java , for example "received Islam by nine very active men", who were referred to as "Wali Sanga" Nine Saints , although the historical identity of such people is almost impossible to determine. The foundation of the first Islamic kingdom in Sumatra, the Samudera Pasai Sultanate took place during the 13th century. Nagore Shahul Hamid — , the "Qadir Wali" was a popular protector of sailors and seafarers.

A simple ritual practice was maintained by Tamil Muslims in his shrine on the coast south of Madras. He attracted pilgrims from Malaysia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and anyone else who sought his aid. Islam and its notion of exclusivity and finality is incompatible with all other religions and the Chinese concept of heavenly harmony and the Son of Heaven as the enforcer. The integration in the traditional East Asian tributary system with China at the centre Muslim Malays and Indonesians exacted a pragmatic approach of cultural Islam in diplomatic relations with China.

The conversion of the remnants of the Buddhist Srivijaya empire, that once controlled trade in much of Southeast Asia and in particular the Strait of Malacca , marked a strategic turning point as this act turned the Strait into an Islamic water. With the fall of Srivijaya the way was open for effective and widespread proselytisation and the establishment of Muslim trading centres.

Enyu Zhang and Qingmin Zhang

Modern Malays view the Sultanate of Malacca , which existed from the 15th to the early 16th century as the first political entity of contemporary Malaysia. By the end of the 14th century Ming China had conquered Yunnan in the South, yet had lost control of the Silk Road after the fall of the Mongol Yuan dynasty. The ruling Yongle Emperor resolved to focus on the Indian Ocean sea routes seeking to consolidate the ancient Imperial Tributary System , establish greater diplomatic and military presence and widen the Chinese sphere of influence. He ordered the construction of a huge trade and representation fleet that, between and , undertook several voyages into Southeast Asia, to India, the Persian Gulf and as far as East Africa.

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Under the leadership of Zheng He hundreds of naval vessels of then unparalleled size, grandeur and technological advancement and manned by sizeable military contingents, ambassadors, merchants, artists and scholars repeatedly visited several major Southeast Asian principalities. The individual fleets engaged in a number of clashes with pirates and occasionally supported various royal contenders. However, pro-expansionist voices at the court in Peking lost influence after the s and the voyages were discontinued.

The protraction of the ritualistic ceremonies and scanty travels of emissaries in the Tributary System alone was not sufficient to develop firm and lasting Chinese commercial and political influence in the region especially during the impending onset of highly competitive global trade. Regular and momentous voyages only began in the 16th century after the arrival of the Portuguese, who actively sought direct and competitive trade.

They were usually accompanied by missionaries, who hoped to promote Christianity. Portugal was the first European power to establish a bridgehead on the lucrative maritime Southeast Asia trade route , with the conquest of the Sultanate of Malacca in The Netherlands and Spain followed and soon superseded Portugal as the main European powers in the region. In , Spain began to colonise the Philippines.

In , acting through the Dutch East India Company , the Dutch took the city of Sunda Kelapa , renamed it Batavia now Jakarta as a base for trading and expansion into the other parts of Java and the surrounding territory. In , the Dutch took Malacca from the Portuguese. In , the Lanfang Republic , possibly the first republic in the region, was established in West Kalimantan , Indonesia , as a tributary state of the Qing Empire ; the republic lasted until , when it fell under Dutch occupation as Qing influence waned. Englishmen of the United Kingdom , in the guise of the Honourable East India Company led by Josiah Child , had little interest or impact in the region, and were effectively expelled following the Siam—England war During the conflicts, Britain had struggled for naval superiority with the French, and the need of good harbours became evident.

In , the settlement of George Town was founded at the northeastern tip of Penang Island by Captain Francis Light , under the administration of Sir John Macpherson ; this marked the beginning of British expansion into the Malay Peninsula. In , Stamford Raffles established Singapore as a key trading post for Britain in their rivalry with the Dutch. However, their rivalry cooled in when an Anglo-Dutch treaty demarcated their respective interests in Southeast Asia. British rule in Burma began with the first Anglo-Burmese War — Early United States entry into what was then called the East Indies usually in reference to the Malay Archipelago was low key.

In , a secret voyage for pepper set sail from Salem, Massachusetts on an month voyage that returned with a bulk cargo of pepper, the first to be so imported into the country, which sold at the extraordinary profit of seven hundred per cent. The Anglo-Dutch Treaty of obligated the Dutch to ensure the safety of shipping and overland trade in and around Aceh, who accordingly sent the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army on the punitive expedition of President Andrew Jackson also ordered America's first Sumatran punitive expedition of , which was followed by a punitive expedition in The Friendship incident thus afforded the Dutch a reason to take over Ache; and Jackson, to dispatch diplomatist Edmund Roberts , [98] who in secured the Roberts Treaty with Siam.

In negotiations for amendment of this treaty, Townsend Harris stated the position of the United States:. The United States does not hold any possessions in the East, nor does it desire any.

Nicholas Tarling

The form of government forbids the holding of colonies. The United States therefore cannot be an object of jealousy to any Eastern Power. Peaceful commercial relations, which give as well as receive benefits, is what the President wishes to establish with Siam, and such is the object of my mission. From the end of the s onwards, while the attention of the United States shifted to maintaining their union, the pace of European colonisation shifted to a significantly higher gear.

This phenomenon, denoted New Imperialism , saw the conquest of nearly all Southeast Asian territories by the colonial powers. The Dutch East India Company and British East India Company were dissolved by their respective governments, who took over the direct administration of the colonies. Only Thailand was spared the experience of foreign rule, though Thailand, too, was greatly affected by the power politics of the Western powers. The Monthon reforms of the late 19th Century continuing up till around , imposed a Westernised form of government on the country's partially independent cities called Mueang , such that the country could be said to have successfully colonised itself.

When the Spanish—American War began in Cuba in , Filipino revolutionaries declared Philippine independence and established the First Philippine Republic the following year. In the Treaty of Paris of that ended the war with Spain, the United States gained the Philippines and other territories; in refusing to recognise the nascent republic, America effectively reversed her position of This led directly to the Philippine—American War , in which the First Republic was defeated; wars followed with the Republic of Zamboanga , the Republic of Negros and the Republic of Katagalugan , all of which were also defeated.

Colonial rule had had a profound effect on Southeast Asia. While the colonial powers profited much from the region's vast resources and large market, colonial rule did develop the region to a varying extent. Commercial agriculture, mining and an export based economy developed rapidly during this period. The introduction Christianity bought by the colonist also have profound effect in the societal change.


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Increased labour demand resulted in mass immigration, especially from British India and China , which brought about massive demographic change. The institutions for a modern nation state like a state bureaucracy, courts of law, print media and to a smaller extent, modern education, sowed the seeds of the fledgling nationalist movements in the colonial territories.

In the inter-war years, these nationalist movements grew and often clashed with the colonial authorities when they demanded self-determination. From until war's end, Japanese occupied Cambodia , Malaya , and the Philippines, which ended in independence movements. Japanese occupation of the Philippines led to the forming of the Second Philippine Republic , formally dissolved in Tokyo on 17 August Also on 17 August, a proclamation of Indonesian Independence was read at the conclusion of Japanese occupation of the Dutch East Indies since March Indonesia declared independence on 17 August and subsequently fought a bitter war against the returning Dutch; the Philippines was granted independence by the United States in ; Burma secured their independence from Britain in , and the French were driven from Indochina in after a bitterly fought war the Indochina War against the Vietnamese nationalists.

The United Nations provided a forum for nationalism, post-independent self-definition, nation-building and the acquisition of territorial integrity for many newly independent nations.


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During the Cold War , countering the threat of communism was a major theme in the decolonisation process. After suppressing the communist insurrection during the Malayan Emergency from to , Britain granted independence to Malaya and later, Singapore , Sabah and Sarawak in and respectively within the framework of the Federation of Malaysia.

In one of the most bloody single incidents of violence in Cold War Southeast Asia, General Suharto seized power in Indonesia in and initiated a massacre of approximately , alleged members of the Communist Party of Indonesia PKI. The conflict spread to Laos and Cambodia and heavy intervention from the United States.

By the war's end in , all these countries were controlled by communist parties. After the communist victory, two wars between communist states—the Cambodian—Vietnamese War of —89 and the Sino-Vietnamese War of —were fought in the region. The victory of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia resulted in the Cambodian genocide. In , Portuguese rule ended in East Timor. However, independence was short-lived as Indonesia annexed the territory soon after. However, after more than 20 years of fighting Indonesia , East Timor won its independence and was recognised by the UN in Finally, Britain ended its protectorate of the Sultanate of Brunei in , marking the end of European rule in Southeast Asia.

Modern Southeast Asia has been characterised by high economic growth by most countries and closer regional integration. Indonesia , Malaysia , the Philippines , Singapore and Thailand have traditionally experienced high growth and are commonly recognised as the more developed countries of the region. As of late, Vietnam too had been experiencing an economic boom. However, Myanmar , Cambodia , Laos and the newly independent East Timor are still lagging economically. The association aims to enhance co-operation among Southeast Asian community. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Aspect of Asian history.

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Geopolitics of Southeast Asia

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