The establishment of the People's Republic of China (PRC) and the outbreak of Korean War
After the Second World War ended, China was thrown into a civil war between the Kuomintang and the Communist Party. On the 1st of October 1949, the People’s Republic of China was established. Although China began a new page in history, stability and progress in the decades that followed did not come easy. In 1950, the Korean War broke out and China found herself in full-front confrontation with the United States. The war eventually ended with the signing of the Korean Armistice Agreement in 1953 yet the hostility in Sino-American relations could no longer be ignored.
Development in the 1950s
In 1955, China began to reach out to Southeast Asian nations. At the Bandung Conference, Zhou Enlai proposed the Five Principles of Coexistence which called for mutual respect towards one another’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, non-aggression, non-interference, equality and peaceful coexistence. Through the friendly concept of coexistence, China was warmly welcomed by participating nations. At the same time, China formally took off in establishing diplomatic relations with a number of Asian and African countries.
Whilst China quickly engaged in the international scene, Japan’s defeat in the Second World War placed her under Allied occupation. Led by General Douglas MacArthur, the Americans focused on disarming Japan and instilling democracy in Japanese thought. Although it is true that both policies aimed at eliminating future Japanese threat, they nonetheless allowed Japan to peacefully progress in economic, military, cultural and political aspects. The American occupation ended in 1951 as the Treaty of San Francisco restored autonomy to the Japanese.
The four stages of Sino-Japanese relations after the Second World War
As we saw, both China and Japan rose as a result of the end of the Second World War. Sino-Japanese relations, in general, can be summed in four stages: non-official interaction from 1949 to 1958; conflict and reconciliation, 1958 to 1971; revival of friendship and further dispute from 1972 to 2006 and instability from 2007 to date.
Cooperation and conflict between China and Japan
In the 1950s, China indirectly stood against the Japanese by fighting the Americans in the Korean War. During this period, Japan served as America’s largest base. Diplomatically, the Japan-Taiwan Treaty increased hostility between the two nations. Cooperation, on the other hand, was witnessed in economic means as the two countries recorded a non-governmental trade value of ₤30 million. Attempts at diplomatic cooperation, however, were certainly close to none.
If cooperation between China and Japan can be concluded in economic trade, the sources of disagreement and conflict are complex and numerous. To begin with, China and Japan carry different views towards the writing of history. China has accused right-wing forces in Japan of eliminating the historical fact of Japanese aggression towards the Chinese and Koreans during the 1930s. In addition, visits paid by Japanese politicians to the Yasukuni Shrine, which commemorates war criminals is seen by China as a denial of Japan’s wrongdoings, thus causing further ill feelings between the two.
Further points of dispute
Territorial disputes, particularly over Diaoyu Islands, have also escalated tension between China and Japan since the 1970s. Both countries have refused to forfeit possession over the islands and negotiations have so far ended in no avail. Notably, such competition has made it difficult for Sino-Japanese cooperation to reach a whole new level of impact over the Southeast Asian region.
Between harmony and conflict
Looking towards the future, Sino-Japanese relations are expected to face more challenges. If conflict is to be avoided, Japan must acknowledge China’s importance and both nations need to engage in cultural interaction for a better understanding of each other. Either way, Sino-Japanese relations will remain crucial to preserving peace in Asia.
Question for discussion:
What do you think will be the future Sino-Japanese relations?
The Evolution of ASEAN: The Trend towards Regional Cooperation
The 20th century Southeast Asia has seen significant development, both in regional integration and outward diplomacy. Tracing history a few decades back, the idea of Southeast Asia began as a regional concept, emerging during the Second World War and referring in general to eleven countries, namely Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Singapore and East Timor.
The birth of ASEAN
ASEAN was pioneered by Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand as the Association of Southeast Asia in 1961, ironically, at a time of dispute and conflict between participating nations. The ASEAN Declaration was proclaimed in 1967. Since then, the organization continued to grow as Vietnam, Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia joined in the 1990s and in 2006, East Timor became a candidate nation.
One of ASEAN’s most important contributions to regional organization is the neutralization of Southeast Asia. Through the Declaration of ASEAN Accord and the Treaty of Amity, ASEAN members agreed to respect the principles of independence, sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity and national identity. In addition, non-interference and peaceful settlement of disputes was promised for the promotion of peace and cooperation amongst the people of Southeast Asia. What we should take note of is the importance of upholding such principles, especially considering the amount of differences that exists between nations. Therefore, ASEAN is a highly important peace-keeping body that ought not to be ignored in today’s political, diplomatic and economic arena.
ASEAN and China
Stepping beyond the borders of ASEAN, one of the organization’s most important diplomatic ties has emerged to be that with China. ASEAN policy towards China, on the other hand, is basically divided into two phases. The phase of normalization took place between 1990 and 1997: during this period, Singapore became China’s 5th largest foreign investor and Indonesia successfully normalized relations with China. From 1997 onwards, we have witnessed a period of cooperation. China has so far become a cooperating partner of the ASEAN in political, security, economic, cultural and strategic development. This has resulted in the formation of the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area which formally began operations on 1 January 2010.
The China Threat
With every positive change, there are always negative turns. Despite the various achievements in cooperation, China remains a threat to Southeast Asian nations. As a consequence, a rift has arisen concerning future relations with China and her containment. Indonesia, for instance, approached China for self-empowerment and Malaysia is closely in touch with China economically. However, both nations stand with the United States in terms of politics and security problems.
Uncertainties in the near future
Undoubtedly, the future of ASEAN relies heavily on how new challenges are handled and how emerging disputes are resolved. The following questions may allow us a better view of the problems that may either strengthen cooperation or create crises within the organization: is Myanmar’s military government destructive to the image of ASEAN as a whole? How do Indonesia’s decline and the continued rise of Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore add to an effective formula of leadership for harmonious cooperation? Should differing economic conditions between ASEAN member states be perceived as obstacles to successful economic integration? Is the security community of the organization doubtable with the exclusion of world power policies from China, the U.S., Japan and India? These are just some starting questions that we may consider. Just as any other political regime, the future of ASEAN will continue to face uncertainties but better than that, the prospects of cooperation may hopefully outdo the possibilities of conflict.
Questions for discussion:
Is Myanmar’s military government destructive to the image of ASEAN as a whole?
Would the struggle for leadership among ASEAN members do harm to the ASEAN’s mechanism which emphasizes “harmonious cooperation”?
Would the big gap in economic scale among ASEAN members have great effect on “economic integration” which is one of the ASEAN’s targets?
As a regional organization, could ASEAN be able to counter-balance the increasing impact of China, the U.S.A., Japan and India in Southeast Asia?
The Data-based questions are designed to facilitate learning and teaching, assessment for learning and assessment of learning. Teachers may adapt the questions and answers to address the diverse needs of students.
Study Source A.
The following cartoon is taken from a British magazine dated 1 October 1947.
Source: “Neighbours ‘Come on, Sam! It's up to us again. – Punch magazine cartoons website” (http://punch.photoshelter.com/image/I0000iA0JCbgMlYk) (Accessed on 14 January 2014).
Describe the economic condition of western Europe after the Second World War. Support your answer with two clues from Source A. (1+2 marks)
What was the view of the cartoonist regarding the possible response of the United States to western Europe? Explain your answer with reference to Source A and using your own knowledge. (4 marks)
Does Source A adequately reflect the American response toward the economic conditions in western Europe during the late 1940s? Explain your answer with reference to Source A and using your own knowledge. (5 marks)
Suggested answers and reference for assessment
Describe the economic condition of western Europe after the Second World War:
Description of economic condition:
European countries’ self-help measures of economic recovery were not strong enough.
The wall labeled “western Europe” was about to fall and crumble.
The pillar marked “self-help” was too thin and could hardly support the crumbling house.
View of the cartoonist regarding the possible response of the United States to western Europe:
L1 General explanation of cartoonist’s view without due reference to the Source or one’s own knowledge
L2 Cartoonist’s view explained with due reference to the Source and use of own knowledge
Cartoonist’s view about US response to western Europe:
Providing financial support to western European countries through the Marshall Plan.
Man on left hand side lifting up the thicker supporting pillar labeled “American aid”;
Caption of the Source ‘Neighbours “Come on, Sam! It’s up to us again” meaning that the U.S. might want to help
[max. 2] [max. 4]
Whether Source A adequately reflects American response to economic conditions in western Europe:
L1 Lopsided answer focusing only on EITHER usefulness OR limitations
L2 Comprehensive answer focusing on BOTH usefulness AND limitations
The United States could readily provide financial aid to western European countries since her economy was much stronger than that of the western European countries.
Source A cannot show that the American financial aid originated from her willingness to offer financial aid to Greece and Turkey through the Truman Doctrine (1946).
Source A cannot show the name of the financial aid to western Europe (i.e. Marshall Plan), its contents, amount of money provided (US$13 billion), forms of aid (e.g. cash grants, subsidy in kind, etc.) and various conditions of subsidy (e.g. European consumption of American products), etc.
Study Sources B and C.
The following passage is adapted from the ‘Marshall Plan’ speech by George Marshall, 5 June 1947.
It is logical that the United States should do whatever it is able to do to assist in the return of normal economic health in the world, without which there can be no political stability and no assured peace. Our policy is directed not against any country or doctrine but against hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos. Its purpose should be the revival of a working economy in the world so as to permit the emergence of political and social conditions in which free institutions can exist.
Source: “The ‘Marshall Plan’ Speech at Harvard University, 5 June 1947 – OECD website” (http://www.oecd.org/general/themarshallplanspeechatharvarduniversity5june1947.htm) (Accessed on 17 January 2014).
The following cartoon entitled “Can He Block It?”, was published in the United States in 1947.
Source: “Soviet Opposition to the Marshall Plan – Library of Congress website” (http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/marshall/images/stalinbb.jpg) (Accessed on 17 January 2014).
Refer to Source B. what was the ultimate aim of the Marshall Plan offered by the United States? Support your answer with one clue from Source B. (2 marks)
Refer to Source C. How would the Soviet Union respond to the Marshall Plan? Explain your answer with reference to Source C and using your own knowledge. (4 marks)
What was the impact of the response of the Soviet Union you pointed out in part (b) on the economic development of Europe in the 1950s and 1960s? Explain your answer with reference to Sources B and C, and using your own knowledge. (7 marks)
Suggested answers and reference for assessment
Ultimate aim of the Marshall Plan offered by the U.S.:
To boost European economic recovery
The words “European recovery” appear above the basketball net which is the target of the basketball labeled “Marshall Plan”
Response of the Soviet Union to the Marshall Plan:
L1 General description of Soviet response to Marshall Plan without due reference to the Source
L2 Explanation of Soviet response to Marshall Plan with due reference to the Source and relevant historical facts
Response of Soviet Union:
Refused to recognize the function of Marshall Plan as a subsidy for economic recovery
Joseph Stalin tried to catch the basketball labeled “Marshall Plan” and block it from the target of “European recovery”.
The Soviet Union started some propaganda against the Marshall Plan, accusing it as “dollar imperialism”, i.e. an attempt of building American economic hegemony across Europe.
The Soviet Union discouraged communist countries in eastern Europe from receiving aid through the Marshall Plan. Later, it even offered its alternative Molotov Plan to eastern European countries.
[max. 2] [max. 4]
Impact of the response of the Soviet Union on European economic development in the 1950s and 1960s
L1 general answer covering only part of the given period/geographical area, and/or without due reference to the Source/own knowledge
L2 comprehensive answer covering the whole given period/geographical area, with due reference to the Source and own knowledge
The US claim of her purpose in starting the Marshall Plan in Source B led to a strong response from the USSR in Source C. The key issue was whether Joseph Stalin in the cartoon could block the basketball “Marshall Plan” from hitting the target of “European recovery”. (Source C)
USSR successfully banned eastern European states from accepting the Marshall Plan, thus depriving them of prosperous economic growth. Because of this, eastern European states remained poor and backward, and lagged far behind western Europe throughout the 1960s.
However, it could not obstruct the acceptance of Marshall Plan by western European states, which therefore underwent successful economic recovery in the 1950s and considerable growth in the 1960s. Their economic performance greatly surpassed that of eastern European states.
[max. 4] [max. 7]
Study Sources D and E.
The following extract is adapted from the ‘Marshall Plan’ speech of 5 June 1947.
The truth of the matter is that Europe's requirements for the next three or four years of foreign food and other essential products - principally from America - are so much greater than her present ability to pay that she must have substantial additional help or face economic, social, and political deterioration of a very grave character.
George Marshall, 5 June 1947
Source: “The ‘Marshall Plan’ speech at Harvard University, 5 June 1947 – OECD website” (http://www.oecd.org/general/themarshallplanspeechatharvarduniversity5june1947.htm) (Accessed on 14 March 2014).
The following cartoon is taken from a British magazine dated June 18 1947.
Source: “The Rival Buses – Punch Cartoon Prints from Punch Magazine website” (http://punch.photoshelter.com/image?&_bqG=3&_bqH=eJxtkFtPxCAQhX_N9mVfurq4SRMeKIPNuC2YAZr0iVRt9uJGE.sl8dcLzUYbdR6G75zhQGC13myvHj6FFZeUb3asfHbVY93n1H4U6.KC5cUqj1VgACu52w9LOrz3p2X5Ng5jhsGCcGrByqZZMOAzAyAZADOri5XMtEZb_Y6qv1H1f1Si66bLXBwnkMZrR11Aa5I0hErHGRqdJNpAqlbCKjjL27m2hhwnobfZ9MogNPDXyN4qCgjcpx843hwPjO6eTriLoxbJeVEHUSktu7QpC7IMGA.O0TP6b6TrH2wSCun4OPQv9_usndLV1GXqXymhc2A-&GI_ID
(Accessed on 12 March 2014).
Refer to Source D. Explain why the United States offered the Marshall Plan in 1947. (2 marks)
Does Source E provide the same reason for the United States to offer the Marshall Plan, as you pointed out in part (a)? Explain your answer with reference to Source E and using your own knowledge. (4 marks)
Do Sources D and E sufficiently reflect the historical background of European economic cooperation after the Second World War? Explain your answer with reference to Sources D and E and using your own knowledge. (6 marks)