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Volume 21: EAST ASIA 1800-1949


Qing Decline 1799-1875

Jiajing Era 1799-1820
Li Ruzhen's Flowers in the Mirror
Daoguang Era 1821-50
Opium Wars
Taiping Revolution and Other Rebellions
Qing Reconstruction 1861-75

Qing Dynasty Fall 1875-1912

China under Cixi 1875-98
Kang's Reforms of 1898
Boxer Uprising of 1900
Late Qing Reforms 1901-10
Sun Yatsen and Revolutionaries
Chinese Revolution 1911-12

Republican China in Turmoil 1912-1926

Yuan Shikai's Presidency 1912-16
China under Warlords 1916-19
May Fourth Movement of 1919
China's Struggle for Power 1920-24
Sun Yatsen and Guomindang 1920-24
May 30th Movement of 1925-26
Lu Xun's Stories

Nationalist-Communist Civil War 1927-1937

Jiang Jieshi's Nationalist Revolution 1927-28
Chinese Communism 1927-31
Nationalist China 1929-34
Chinese Communism 1932-37
Nationalist China 1934-37
Lu Xun's Essays
Mao Dun, Lao She, and Ba Jin
Ding Ling and Shen Congwen
Pearl Buck

China at War 1937-1949

Japanese Invasion of China 1937-38
Fighting the Japanese Occupation 1939-41
China's War with Allies 1942-45
Jiang, CCP, US, and USSR 1945-46
Nationalist-Communist Civil War 1946-49
Mao Zedong's Political Philosophy

Korea 1800-1949

Korea in Isolation 1800-64
Korea in Transition 1864-93
Korea Reforms 1894-1904
Japan's Annexation of Korea 1904-18
March First Movement 1919-20
Colonial Korea under Japan 1921-45
Korea Liberated and Divided 1945-49

Japan's Modernization 1800-1894

Japan Isolated 1800-37
Japan's Transition 1837-67
Meiji Restoration 1868-73
Meiji Conflicts 1873-77
People's Rights Movement 1877-84
Japan's Constitutional Development 1884-94
Fukuzawa Yukichi's Ethics

Imperial Japan 1894-1937

Japan's Growing Military 1894-1903
Japan's Victory over Russia 1904-05
Japan Between Wars 1906-14
Japan in the World War 1914-19
Japanese Progress 1920-30
Japan Takes Manchuria 1931-33
Japan's Militarism 1933-37

Japan's War and Defeat 1937-1949

Japan Invades China 1937-38
Japan's Occupation of China 1939-40
Japanese and American Diplomacy in 1941
Japan's Aggressive War 1941-42
Japan's Losing War 1943-45
Japan's Defeat and Surrender
American Occupation of Japan in 1945
American Occupation of Japan 1946-49
Trials of Japanese War Crimes
Censorship and Kurosawa's Early Films

Philippines to 1949

Philippines under Spain to 1800
Philippines under Spain 1800-80
Rizal and Filipino Reformers 1880-96
Filipino Revolution 1896-98
US Intervention and Filipino Independence 1898
Filipino-American War 1899-1902
Philippines under US Republicans 1902-10
Philippines under Americans 1910-33
Philippines and Quezon 1933-41
Philippines, Japan, and MacArthur 1941-45
Philippines American Independence 1945-49

Pacific Islands to 1949

Micronesia to 1949
Melanesia to 1949
Fiji and Tonga to 1949
Samoa to 1899
Samoa Divided 1899-1949
Tahiti to 1949
Hawaiian Islands to 1836
Hawaiian Islands 1836-76
Hawaii and the United States 1876-1900
Hawaii under the United States 1900-49

Summary and Evaluation

Qing Decline 1800-1912
China's Long Revolution 1912-49
Korea 1800-1949
Japan's Modernization 1800-1930
Japan's Imperial Wars 1931-1949
Pacific Islands
Evaluating East Asia 1800-1949


Chronology of Asia & Africa 1800-1950



      The ancient civilizations of the far east in China, Korea, and Japan were isolated from European influence until the 19th century, and they tried to keep the Europeans out of their countries. Gradually the Chinese began trading, and many became addicted to the opium that the British brought from India to trade for tea. This led to the opium war and efforts by the British, French, and Russians to increase their trade with China. In 1853 Commodore Perry and the Americans forced the Japanese to agree to trade. China faced major rebellions against the Manchu (Qing) dynasty, and the Christian-influenced Taiping revolution attempted to create a new society but failed in a civil war that lost twenty million lives. The Koreans often persecuted Christians and remained the “hermit kingdom” until the Japanese persuaded them to trade in 1876.
      Led by the Japanese, the Orientals worked to strengthen themselves by learning from the technological, economic, and political advances of the West. In 1868 the Japanese overthrew the Shogun and restored the Meiji emperor to begin a transformation of the feudal system toward democracy. Yet with their Emperor and their samurai tradition they developed imperial ambitions and military capabilities as they modernized their society. When the Tonghak religious rebellion threatened the Korean monarchy, the Chinese and the Japanese intervened militarily. The Japanese sent more forces and defeated the Chinese in this war over Korea in 1895. China’s experiment with Kang Youwei’s reforms in 1898 was halted by Empress Cixi, and in 1900 the Boxer Rebellion tried to fight the Europeans with martial arts and swords. Like many Asian nations, the Chinese had to accept “unequal treaties” with the Europeans. Japan developed their army and navy enough to defeat the Russians in 1905 in a war that astounded the world and encouraged Asians. Japan took greater control over Korea and annexed it as a colony with increasing domination and exploitation until their defeat in 1945.
      Sun Yat-sen worked for a revolution to overthrow the Manchus in China. Cixi died in 1908, and three years later the revolution replaced the Qing dynasty that had ruled China since 1644. However, in 1912 Yuan Shikai co-opted the revolution and increased his power, beginning an era of warlords and many regional wars. The May Fourth Movement in 1919 opened up intellectual development as anarchists and Communists protested Japanese imperialism and turned away from patriarchal Confucianism. Sun Yat-sen advocated independence, democracy, and socialism, and he cooperated with Communist revolutionaries. After his death the military leader Jiang Jieshi (Chiang Kai-shek) turned against the growing Communist party in 1927, and with warlord allies he established a Nationalist government.
      Mao Zedong found the key to a successful revolution in China by liberating the peasants from their exploitation by the feudal system and the landlord class. A major civil war between the Chinese Communists and Jiang’s Nationalists, who imitated and allied themselves with the fascists, was interrupted by the 1937 invasion by imperial Japan that occupied half of China. The Communists and Nationalists formed a united front against the Japanese while holding different parts of the rest of China. After the Japanese were defeated by the Allies in 1945, Jiang’s Nationalists tried to dominate the north as well as the south; but Mao led the Communists in a defensive war that won over the peasants with land reform while the Nationalists by favoring the rich lost the support of most people. In 1949 the Communists drove the Nationalists off the mainland to Taiwan and began a new era in Chinese history.
      Japan had invaded Manchuria in 1931, ignoring international law and withdrawing from the League of Nations. After occupying much of China the Japanese needed oil and other resources for their military machine and made a surprise attack against the American navy at Pearl Harbor and then invaded most of Southeast Asia. The Japanese had foolishly challenged the United States and were no match for the industrial and military might that mobilized to defeat them. In 1945 the Americans occupied utterly defeated Japan and helped them transform themselves from the most militaristic country that was tried for war crimes to a peaceful democracy.
      Korea was divided by the surrender terms that temporarily put the Soviet Union in charge north of the 38th parallel and assigned the south to the Americans. Thus North Korea elected Communists, and South Korea’s democracy reflected American influence.
      Spain made the Philippines the only Christian country in Asia, and the Jesuits provided education that fostered an independence struggle in the 19th century. The United States went to war with Spain in 1898 and intervened in the Philippines during the revolution. Spain was defeated mostly by the Filipinos but ceded the country to the United States, which fought and defeated the Filipinos by 1902 in a brutal war. The Filipinos developed self-government, but independence was continually delayed. The Japanese invaded the Philippines in December 1941 and imprisoned many American soldiers until MacArthur led the invasion that liberated the Philippines from the Japanese. The victorious Americans let the Philippines become independent but maintained trading advantages and military bases.
      The Pacific islands were devastated by new diseases as missionaries came to convert them and entrepreneurs to exploit their resources and cheap labor. Germans entered the colonial fray in 1885 but were driven out in 1914 when Japan took over most of Micronesia. The British with Australia and New Zealand governed many of the southern islands, but the French had Tahiti and New Caledonia. The Americans captured Guam and part of Samoa and came to dominate Hawaii, which was made a territory of the United States in 1900. In the Pacific War the Americans with help from Australians defeated the Japanese invaders and used the islands as bases to bomb Japan.
      This era of East Asian history tells the story of how traditional Eastern cultures were transformed by the influence of the West and went through extraordinary and dramatic changes, resulting in a Communist China, a pacifist Japan, a divided Korea, and a Philippines and Pacific islands under the influence of the United States.

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