Clash Of The Titans: A History Of Nationalism In The Southeast Asian Region, And How Nationalism Has Perpetuated The Sino Japanese Disputes Over The S

1958 words - 8 pages

Far across the Pacific Ocean and the familiarities of the West is a region wildly different from conventions akin to liberal democracies; the region of the Asian South-Pacific encompasses the area from China to the south, and India to the east. While each country included may have similarities beyond geographic location, it is important to distinguish between each as they are, due to state sovereignty and the prevailing issue of nationalism. Main superpowers in the area are, aside from India: China and Japan. The major superpowers of the region have, of course, directly influenced the ways in which smaller countries conduct themselves domestically – through ideology and economic strength, for example – and in foreign politics within the region and abroad. While China’s recorded history is millennia older than that of the continental United States, one could argue that, due to political instability, globalization, and the development of technology, China’s own government and politics have been diluted into a pseudo-democratic, nationalistic state. Since the 1990’s, the leadership of China has strongly been influenced by nationalism; therefore, when dealing with issues surrounding the country, it is essential to examine the essence of nationalism within China, and why a country focuses on strengthening nationalism as a way to secure stability within. Furthermore, it would be beneficial to examine the relationship between China and others in the regional – especially where tensions often rise and disputes occur. In studying the essence of nationalism within the Southeast Asia (SEA) region, one of the best examples of national identity creating clashes between states, in the modern era, would be the disputes over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands between China and Japan. One could argue that the pursuit of strengthening national identity and strong state sovereignty has perpetuated this conflict.
The rise of nationalism in Asia can be largely attributed to competing methods of development in the post-WWI era. Furthermore, the lines between patriotism and nationalism were blurry, at best, during this period, globally; national self-determination and other proclamations by US president Woodrow Wilson “raised the expectations of nationalism movements all over the world,” (Aydin 127). National self-determination is the notion that states are sovereign bodies with the capacity and freedom to construct foreign and domestic policy. Following the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, where Japan’s “racial equality proposal” was struck down by Western powers, Asia – as a regional whole – “[called] for an end to the pro-Western diplomatic framework [of the League of Nations] and to condemn the League of Nations as devoid of moral legitimacy,” (Aydin 141). Furthermore, the Japanese public attributed it “to the intransigence of white Western powers bent on continuing their discrimination against the coloured races. Thus the rejection of the proposal became a great...

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