In 1945, Korea became liberated from Japan, in 1946 the Philippines was freed from the US, in 1949 the Indonesians gained independence from the Dutch, and Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam overcame the French in 1954. Approximately a quarter of the world inhabitants, which is not less than 45 countries, rebelled against colonialism, and gained freedom. Analysts state that no other time in history has there been such a reversal revolutionary occurrence with such precision and rapidity (Meisner 98). Besides, World War II was preceded by the Cold War that, according to expert analysis, helped in shaping East Asia as a region.
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Between 1945 and 1975, the US increased its economic, political, and military influence in East Asia to an unprecedented level in a bid to mitigate what was interpreted as an increase in communism. The US initiative saw many Americans visit the East Asian region as aid workers, professors, soldiers, diplomat technicians, and students. However, this increase in American dominance in the region was met with resistance and an uncontested manner since it resembled and abetted the revolutionary decolonization process (Morel 477).
The start of the 21st-Century conflict in East Asian originated from the American, European, and Japanese imperialism, together with their colonial dominance. As initially explained a century ago by Lenin, imperialism was not just a political concept (Morel 478).
It was the final stage or exhibition of monopolistic capitalism. As much as the imperial processes of domination depended on capitalism, nationalism in Asia was of the opinion that colonialism reversal was not adequate. On the other hand, the colonized individuals, like the Vietnamese and Koreans, encouraged political autonomy (Gallicchio 125). Still, others maintained that the economic system of monopoly capitalism reversal was needed for genuine independence. These ideological issues and culture emerged in civil wars in Asia, viz. Vietnam, China, and Korea, which helped to progress the Communist Revolution in the region. With this understanding, this paper will analyze the significance of the different Communist Revolutions that happened during 20th-Century East Asia and the outcomes and context of the Cold War in the region.
East Asian Communism Revolution Historical Relevance
It is evident that in terms of global relations, the 1949 Chinese Revolution left a profound impact on the East Asian region. Historically, this revolution showed the first flaw in the once-revered US prestige. In addition, the US government came to the rescue of China by increasing economic aid immediately after overcoming Japan. However, the communist agenda still prevailed in China, and the current administration could not overcome it. The Chinese revolution was the first victory of the Soviet Union before the first American loss and post-world war era (Meisner 104).
In addition, the growth of communism in China helped in shaping the relationship between communist Asia and the capitalistic western world as this country was the focal point. In the post-1945 era, the USSR was the most outstanding communist nation internationally. Evidently, a number of countries in North Korea, Eastern Europe, and Outer Mongolia established communist governments, but the shift in power mainly favored the western countries (Gallicchio 128).
China’s fortunes turned around, and it improved in all spheres in economy, military, and demographics, which cemented communism in the region. After the establishment of communist China, the communists acquired a superior post from the aspect of its citizens even though they could not defeat the western powers in terms of military. The analysis shows that the unparalleled growth in China had a critical impact across entire Asia. In addition, China became the example of communist system supremacy over capitalist models, and this automatically angered the US (Morel 480).
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In addition, in 1949, upraising heralded the birth of communism in Asia. The Chinese revolution marked the start of the communist emergence in East Asia (Leffler and Painter 114). In addition, the communist resurgences in East Asia spilled over to Africa and started to take root in the region. After establishing its regional dominance, the Chinese communist government openly stated its support to the nationalist movements internationally. It offered momentum to the national struggle in Africa against the imperialist governments (Selden and So 77).
Finally, the rise of Red China affected the Soviet Union’s political strategies. In the beginning stages, the Soviet Union thought that the resurgence of communism in China would work towards its benefits. However, the USSR started to see the threat that China posed in the region due to its growth in different aspects. It encouraged “the ideological and supremacy conflict between China and the Soviet Union and posed a serious problem to the Soviet dominance over the Communist world” (Westad 85). Therefore, the various East Asian revolutions left a deep influence on global politics. It not only encouraged the beginning of new problems across the region but also gave new perspectives to the west-east conflicts and changed East Asia into an integral world politics point (Westad 88).
Outcomes and context of the cold war in East Asia
The Cold War era, specifically 1947-1991, changed how the East Asian states related to the international community. This era involved militarily, politically, ideologically, and economically opposed factions led by the USSR and the US. The nuclear weapons diffusion over this duration guaranteed that any friction between these two dominant powers or any of their allies would eventually culminate in global destruction and catastrophic nuclear warfare that the human race would find hard to survive (Leffler and Painter 116). Therefore, the Cold War was an era of constant security tension that often ended in conflicts such as the Vietnam War. The Cold War divided the East Asian area politically into two following the October 1949 declaration of establishing the People’s Republic of China.
The animosity between the USSR and Communist China by the early 1970s led to further political division in the region. Concurrently, the ideologically and politically rejected democratic and authoritarian system rule proposed ascendancy in both capitalistic and communist factions. From an economic aspect, “Japan, the other four Asian strongholds (Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, and South Korea), and the ASEA (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) experienced sustained and rapid economic development” (Selden and So 39).
During this war period, the US pumped in aid in the form of dollars to many of these countries, mainly South Korea and Japan, as part of their military procurement plan, but with clear economic objectives underlined. The local area firms, through these funds, were guaranteed the much-needed currency channels and markets (Selden and So 39).
However, during this time, China never copied this economic strategy until the Deng Xiaoping economic reforms started to improve the country’s economic wellbeing to overcome the effects left during the Cultural Revolution and the Great Leap Forward period. The international relations fledgling field also expanded during the Cold War with new concepts and theories emerging to explain global and interstate politics. Many of the tensions that signified the Cold War order in East Asia, including the separation of South and North Korea and the mainland Taiwan and China. These countries firmly remained in place, thus guaranteeing that the Cold War legacy continued to influence the East Asian global relations to the present age (Gallicchio 127).
The collapse of communism and the end of the Cold War de-legitimized the system and removed the strategic rationale that initially had underpinned the global economy fragmentation during the Cold War. Such political changes combined with technological innovation and economic revolution ushered in a new international economic order as the 21st century started with a transformational objective. Even in East Asia, where the Cold War front lines on the Taiwan straits and Korean peninsula that remain largely in place, the transforming roles of the new international economy have a liberating and profound effects that have unraveled new possibilities for East Asia reorganization.
Apparently, the emerging and new international economic order are liberating in three main development aspects of East Asia area with a particular focus on China. It encouraged the necessary political conditions for the international economies’ integration and on the alternate side of the concept, in both East Asia and Eastern Europe, into the universal market economic model. The fast advancements in China as the largest global emerging industrial giant would not have been possible without the help of such liberating initiatives.
Gallicchio, Marc. The Unpredictability of the Past: Memories of the Asia-Pacific War in US–East Asian Relations, Durham: Duke University Press, 2007. Print.
Leffler, Melvyn, and David Painter. Origins of the cold war: an international history, New York: Psychology Press, 2005. Print.
Meisner, Maurice. Mao Zedong: a political and intellectual portrait, Cambridge: Polity, 2007. Print.
Morel, Jean-François. Westad, Odd Arne, the Global Cold War. Third World Interventions and the Making of Our Times, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005. Print.
Selden, Mark, and Alvin So. War and state terrorism: the United States, Japan, and the Asia-Pacific in the long twentieth century, Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2004. Print.
Westad, Arne. Decisive encounters: the Chinese civil war, 1946-1950, Stanford University Press, 2003. Print.