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Foreign Policy Analysis
3  Imperialism in Asia with lecture

3 Imperialism in Asia with lecture

In today’s lecture, we continue our
discussion of the High Age of European Imperialism, but we switch our focus to
Asia. Generally speaking, the type of imperialism we see in Asia is mostly
informal or through economic exploitation. Again, it is important to
note that imperialism was not new to Asia. Many Asians had colonized other Asians
in previous centuries. Specifically, we will focus on Great Britain’s
imperialism in China, the US attempt to imperialize Japan, Japanese expansion and imperialism of its neighbors, imperialism and its effects in the
Persian and Ottoman empires and finally the US imperialism of Hawaii, Cuba and
the Philippines. First, we’ll start with China. Traditionally in Asia, China was the dominant power. They colonized much of
Asia and controlled international trade through its domination of the Silk Roads
from about 130 BCE until the 1500s when international trade shifted to the seas.
Even after trade shifted to the seas, China continued to be the Asian dominant
power. Therefore, their goods, literature, philosophies were exported
throughout the region and beyond. In fact, they developed a form of
ethnocentrism in which they believed all other peoples were inferior to them. China’s rulers were Emperors and like
Europeans they practiced hereditary monarchy, where the eldest son inherited
the throne. However, when we talk about China, we see a pattern of shifting power
called dynastic cycles, where about every 300 years power shifts from one family
to another. Thus, giving us our different dynasties. It was believed that the family who was losing power lost what is called the Mandate of Heaven, and
the family that gained power had received a Mandate of Heaven. In a way,
this is similar to Europe’s Divine Right of Kings. In both cultures, power
is derived from something immortal or otherworldly. In Europeans, this is the
Judaeo-Christian God. In the Chinese, it is called the Mandate of Heaven. The last
dynasty to rule China was called the Qing or Manchu dynasty. They came from
Manchuria, the northeastern most part of China. When the Europeans learned
this, they called them the Manchu, but the Chinese referred to this dynasty as Qing.
You will see both terms depending on the source. The previous dynasty, the Ming,
had imperialized Korea, Vietnam and other Southeast Asians. When the Qing
came to power in the mid-1600s ,they expanded into Mongolia and Central Asia. This expansion hurt the economy leading to food
shortages and the desolation of farmland. By the time the British arrived in the
early 1800s, the Chinese were unhappy with their rulers whom they believe are
corrupt and foreigners themselves. Great Britain wanted to by China’s teas, silks
and spices but the Chinese did not want anything the British had to sell or
their money. In fact they just wanted the “fanqui” or the foreign devils to leave.
They believed that they had everything they needed within their
empire. So why should they trade with them?
Great Britain really wanted to trade with China, so they introduced opium to
the Chinese. Yep, the British are the original drug lords of the 1800s and
they did it on the cheap! You see, opium comes from the poppy plant which happens to grow plentifully in Great Britain’s most prized colony- the crown jewel-
India. So they controlled both supply and demand. By the very addictive nature of
opium there was no shortage of demand in China. Now the Chinese realized pretty
quickly that Great Britain was controlling them through the opium trade
and twice went to war to try to stop them. The First Opium War began in 1839
and lasted until 1842 when the Chinese attempted to end the opium trade first
through diplomacy and when that didn’t work they
confiscated over about 20,000 chests of opium and ordered a blockade
of foreign ships. Great Britain responded by sending the Royal Navy to China. They
defeated the Chinese and forced them to sign the Treaty of Nanking which gave
them five ports and Hong Kong. As a result of this economic control of China
by Great Britain and the Treaty of Nanking, many Chinese focused their
frustrations on the Qing dynasty. Thus resulting in a civil war, when the
Taiping Heavenly Kingdom tried to overthrow the Qing. Ultimately they
failed, but it was this weakened dynasty that Great Britain faced in the Second
Opium War which lasted between 1856 and 1863. Like the first, the Chinese try once
again to get to the British to end the opium trade. Great Britain again uses
gunboat diplomacy and together with the French they forced the Chinese into
submission ceding more rights to foreigners. This led to more tensions
between the Qing Dynasty and the Chinese people. By 1900, not just the British controlled parts of China but other countries as
well. They carved out what we call “spheres of influence” in China. Here is a
map of the spheres of influence in China from around 1910. Note that four out of
the five major European powers are there as well as Japan. They are informally
colonizing China. Also, note the absence of the US. By 1900, though this would
change when US Secretary of State John Hayes introduces the open door policy
allowing trade to be open to all countries equally. The Society of
Righteous Fists known in the West as Boxers are shown below. They were a secret society that started an anti-imperialist, anti-foreign and anti-Christian guerrilla
movement. In 1900, they converged on Beijing
calling to exterminate the foreigners. The Empress Dowager initially
sided with the Boxers against the Eight-Nation Alliance which was made up
of all the European powers plus the United States and Japan. They sent 20,000
troops to end the siege of the legation corridor where the foreigners had fled
for protection. After months of fighting in the capital, the foreign legation was
relieved. The Empress Dowager, disguised as a peasant, fled the capital along with
her nephew, the Emperor. In absentia, she negotiated with the Eight-Nation
Alliance to stay in power in return for the guarantee that China would not have to
give up any more territory to the foreign powers. This allowed the Qing to
remain in power for 10 more years, but when her nephew the Emperor died in 1908, she died one day later but not before naming the late Emperor’s nephew
Pu Yi as her successor. He was only three years old and would be China’s the last
emperor. Dr. Sun Yat-sen was educated in Hawaii and later studied medicine in
Hong Kong. He earned his medical license in 1892. During medical school he was
baptized as a Christian. By the late, 1890s, Sun would quit his medical
practice to become a revolutionary. He believed that the only way to end
foreign domination of China was to overthrow the Qing dynasty and form a
republic that would modernize on its own. He believed in 1. nationalism under a
united China 2. democracy (which we would today call self-determination)- the right
of China to choose its leaders and 3. socialism- the Chinese government should take care of his people through social welfare programs. Sun’s revolution had
many fits and starts but in 1911, they finally succeeded when the
emperor Pu Yi abdicated. Sun became the father of the nation and the
Republic of China was born. He consolidated his political party with
others to form the (KMT) Kuomintang or Nationalist Party. Initially, he gave the
presidency of China to Yuan Shikai, who controlled the army, but when in 1915
Yuan declared himself Emperor, he took over the presidency until his death in
1925. When the imperial government fell, the Europeans took advantage of the
situation and took over Chinese colonies like Vietnam. Chinese relations with the
West in the eighteen hundreds was difficult; it suffered under imperialism,
had many civil wars and eventually became a republic. Japan’s relations with
the West are even more complicated. Let’s take a
look. When the first Europeans made contact with the Japanese in the 1500s,
they were a feudal society. The majority of the population were peasants, who
worked the land owned by the daimyo. The samurai were a warrior caste of fighters.
Although the archipelago was ruled by an emperor believed to be a descendant of
the Sun God, there was little to no centralization of power. Instead local
warlords known as Shogun employed the samurai to protect the daimyo from
each other. First contact was made in 1543 by a group of shipwrecked
Portuguese sailors. Things did not go well. The Japanese did not take kindly to
the pale-faced, harsh talking, funnily dressed men.
What’s more, the “smelly barbarians” carried with them “lightning sticks”,
which shots fire against their enemies. This was insulting to the samurai
especially who prided themselves on swordsmanship and hand-to-hand combat. Guns were seen as a cowardly and dishonorable way to fight. Soon after Roman Catholic
missionaries arrived and attempted to convert the Japanese to Christianity and
open trade. Over the next 50 years, other Europeans also came to Japan selling
various goods. Guns threatened to upset
the status quo among the various clans and Christianity threatened Japan’s
belief systems. In 1603, a warlord Tokugawa Ieyasu, pictured below, decided
that it was time for Japan to rid themselves of foreign influence. He
unites all the other Shoguns under his power. Once these Warriors presented a
united front against the Europeans, he kicked them out. This started the Edo
period or the Tokugawa Shogunate so named because the Shogun set up his rule
in the city of Edo, while the Emperor remained in the capital of Kyoto. Just as
the Emperor passed power to his eldest son, so too did the Shogun starting a
dynasty of Shoguns. During the Tokugawa Shogunate, the Emperor remained the
spiritual leader, but the Shogun ruled the government and economy.
The Shogun centralized the government, codified law and the country enjoyed a
period of prosperity. He also forced Christian converts to renounce their new
faith or face persecution. Through the banning of European guns, expelling the
missionaries and forbidding the Japanese to leave the islands, he removed most of
the foreign influence. However, due to this self-imposed isolation, Japan missed
the Industrial Revolution. Except for minimal contact with the Dutch at the
trading post in Nagasaki, the Japanese had virtually no contact with foreigners
until 1858 when a delegation from the US, led by Commodore Matthew Perry,
comes to Japan. This unwelcome visit didn’t go much better than when the
Portuguese came in the 1500s. The US demanded to see the Emperor were sent to
the Shogun instead. Over the course of the next 15 years, the US tries to
dominate Japan through an imbalance of trade. The Japanese learned some lessons
from the situation in China and outlawed the opium trade. They do however grant
the US “most favored nation trading status”, which doesn’t keep the Europeans
out, but gives the US the upper hand in trade with Japan. Unfortunately for
the US, the Japanese decide that to avoid imperialism,
they must modernize on their own. As the old saying goes, “if you can’t beat’em
join’em! In 1868, the Japanese overthrew the Shogun whom they blame for both
isolating them and for allowing the foreigners in. They restored the power of
the emperor. In a symbolic and practical gesture, the emperor moves from Kyoto to
Edo. They renamed the city of Edo by
switching the syllables “Kyo” and “to” to “To” “kyo”. Thus, giving the capital its modern
name (Tokyo). Here is a short video that discusses the many changes in Japan that
took place, during the late 1800s to the early 1900s. By 1900, Japan
has established itself as the most modern and powerful nation in Asia. Although Japan is quite powerful, it also
has a major problem- it lacks natural resources- like oil and coal which is
much needed for industrialization. So in order to stay modern, it must buy or
import natural resources from other countries. However, it is unable to export
or sell enough products to other countries to offset the cost of the raw
materials. This is called an unfavorable balance of trade.
Therefore, Japan decides to take those natural resources from other places
through imperialism. Its first stop is modern-day Okinawa. Following their
success in Okinawa and taking advantage of the political upheaval in China, Japan
starts the Sino-Japanese war by invading Korea and Manchuria. Unable to defeat the
Japanese, in part due to the Boxer Rebellion, the Chinese cede these areas
to the Japanese and the Japanese carve out a sphere of influence in China
alongside the Europeans. When the Japanese invade Manchuria, the Russians
fearful that the only warm water port in the Pacific will be taken over. Therefore, the Russians and the Japanese go to war. Czar Nicholas II thought he would
make an easy defeat of Japan, this supposedly inferior nation. He hoped that
military victory would restore the reputation of the monarchy and divert attention from the domestic issues he faced. Imagine his surprise when the
Japanese sink the Russian fleet at a surprise attack at Port Arthur and defeat
him in a land battle at Mukden. These embarrassing defeats coupled with
the threat of revolution at home convinced Nicholas to negotiate a peace deal. Both
sides accepted US President Teddy Roosevelt’s offer to negotiate the peace.
Russia was forced to recognize Japanese rights to Korea and agree to leave
Manchuria. Russia also signed over its 25-year lease on Port Arthur. The impact
of Russia’s defeat by Japan was felt by oppressed peoples all over the world as
it sparked anti-colonial movements, particularly in Africa. Both the Persian
Empire (modern-day Iran) and the Ottoman Empire, which was ruled by the Turks and
span into Syria Iraq Saudi Arabia and, Palestine were both in decline. Both
empires were hereditary monarchies; for the Persian Shah or Ottoman Sultan ruled
with the blessing of their religious leaders. Again not much different than
Europe, except that their religion was Islam not Christianity. The Persians were
Shia and Ottomans Sunni, but both represented what was left of the once
large and very powerful Muslim empires. When oil was discovered in Persia by
Britain in 1908, the British and Russian vied for control. Britain was fearful
that if Russia was in control of Persia it might also try for India. Russia was
fearful of Britain gaining too much territory in Central Asia. In 1907, after
a series of agreements and disputes, they divided Persia into spheres of
influence, despite Persian sovereignty. As previously discussed, the Ottoman Empire
lost much territory in the 1800s as the minority groups declared independence. In
the 1800s, in the latter part of the 19th century, the Ottomans
tried to modernize its infrastructure and army. However, that cost money. So when the Empire filed for bankruptcy in 1875, the British and French stepped in to
control their debt. In the early 1900s, it lost much of his Balkan territories
particularly in the Balkan Wars of 1912 and 1913. In 1908, the Young Turk
Revolution attempted to restore the 1876 Constitution and a multi-party political
system. It only lasted a year before the Sultan regained power and undid the
reforms, reestablishing his power. During the Young Turk rule, there was an attempt
to assimilate ethnic minorities into a single culture, religion in national
identity. Other languages than Turkish were banned and those that refused to
assimilate were seen as disloyal to the government and were persecuted. This
feeling and policies continued even after the Young Turks were no longer in
power. During World War I, the Armenian, Assyrian and Greek Christian minorities
were executed in genocides- the first of the modern genocides of the century. To
this day, Turkey denies and it was genocide. It has often been said that the
United States “flirted” with imperialism. This implies that somehow we
weren’t true believers and perhaps it is an attempt to exonerate us from our
actions or suggest maybe we weren’t “as bad as” Europe. It is my opinion that we
should let the Hawaiians and the Filipinos decide that. In 1795, Hawaii was
a unified Kingdom under a single ruler, a king whose descendants ruled the islands
until 1872. Christian missionaries from the US began converting Hawaiians in the
early 1800s. In 1840, Hawaii became an
Christian monarchy and drafted a constitution. Throughout the mid to late
1800s, American missionaries and businessmen lived in Hawaii
and were active in political affairs. In 1887, the king was forced to sign a new
constitution by white businessmen and lawyers which took away much of his
authority. The Constitution also limited voting rights to wealthy elites and
whites. Then in 1893, the US minister to the kingdom conspired with US citizens
to overthrow the Queen. In 1898, Hawaii was annexed and became a US territory
until 1959 when it became the 50th state. In the late 1890s, Cuba was pushing for
independence from Spain. The US became involved when the American public sided
with Cuba, viewing Spain as a tyrannical power much the same as Great Britain had
been to the us. US businesses also felt threatened as the war interrupted
trade with Cuba. The US tried to broker a peace but the Spanish refused. The
Spanish offered the Cubans reforms but the Cubans refused. The USS Maine was
sent to Havana Harbor to “ensure the safety of American citizens and
interests”. When it exploded, the US declared war
on Spain, which they fought on multiple theaters and won. In 1898 as a result, the
US gained Spain’s colonies of the Philippines, Guam and Puerto Rico. Cuba
became a US protectorate, but formed its own civilian government in 1902 and
announced independence. However, the US remain involved in Cuban politics until
1959 with the Castro revolution. When the peace treaty with Spain ceded the
Philippines to the US, the Filipinos turned their weapons back on the US.
They had not fought for independence just to be ruled by another foreign power. The
US viewed the Filipinos as quote “ungrateful” as they had
helped them gain their independence against the Spanish. The Filipino army
was outgunned by the US, so they switched to guerrilla warfare. Many civilians were
placed in internment camps to keep them from helping the guerrillas. Many died
from disease and famine. It is estimated 200,000 Filipinos died in the war. The
war officially ended in 1902 when President McKinley established a
Congress in the Philippines that had an upper and lower house- the Upper House would be run by the Filipino Commission and the Lower House would be elected by
Filipinos. The US moved toward a policy of gradual independence for the
Filipinos, but for now the Philippines remained a US territory. Independence
will be granted in 1946.

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