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Imperialism in Southeast Asia
Which motive for imperialism was the most influential force behind US
imperialism in the Philippines?
Background to European Interest in China
“Just as the European powers rushed to divide Africa, they also competed to
carve up the lands of Southeast Asia. These lands form part of the Pacific Rim, the
countries that border the Pacific Ocean. Western nations desired the Pacific Rim lands
for their strategic location along the sea route to China. Westerners also recognized the
value of the Pacific colonies as sources of tropical agriculture, minerals, and oil. As the
European powers began to appreciate the value of the area, they challenged each other
for their own parts of the prize.” (Beck 795)
Early in the 18th century, the Dutch East India Company established control
over most of the 3,000-mile-long chain of Indonesian islands. The British established a
major trading port at Singapore. The French took over Indochina on the Southeast Asian
mainland. The Germans claimed the Marshall Islands and parts of New Guinea and the
Solomon islands. The lands of Southeast Asia were perfect for plantation agriculture.
The major focus was on sugar cane, coffee, cocoa, rubber, coconuts, bananas, and
pineapple. As these products became more important in the world trade markets,
European powers raced each other to claim lands.” (Beck 796)
“Because Americans had fought for their independence from Britain, most of
them disliked the idea of colonizing other nations. However, two groups of Americans
were outspoken in their support of imperialism. One group of ambitious empire builders
felt the United States should fulfill its destiny as a world power, colonizing like the
Europeans. The other group, composed of business interests, welcomed the opening of
new markets and trade possibilities.” (Beck 798)
Dutch Imperialism in Indonesia
Late 1700s: Dutch East India Company controlled the 3,000 mile long Indonesia
island chain (competing with Portugal)
• These islands were perfect for plantations (sugar, bananas, rubber, coffee,
coconuts, and pineapples) and eventually 1/5th of all lands used for export crop
• Late 1800s: Discovery of oil and tin in the region causes the Netherlands to
take direct control of the islands (Dutch East Indies colony)
• direct control: Settlers moved in permanently; took control of governing;
created a rigid class system with Dutch at top.
British Imperialism in SE Asia
• Competition with the Dutch British
colonize Singapore, Malaysia & Burma
• British India-China trade British
need a port in Singapore
• British control over Suez Canal 
British need tin & rubber to build
• Cheap labor needed to mine and
collect rubber  encourage Chinese to
migrate to SE Asia  cultural tensions
•Chinese flood area  Malayans become
a minority in their own country.
•Ethnic conflict still exists today.
The French & Indochina
Indochina included
 Vietnam
 Laos
 Cambodia
• Direct control
• Industrialization not allowed
• Focus on agricultural production
4x more land devoted to rice
Vietnam rice consumption
decreased as rice was exported.
Traditional village structure and
communal land ownership destroyed
to promote cash crops for French
French Imperialism in SE Asia (Mid 1800s)
France sends missionaries to SE Asia to convert Asians to Christianity
Anti-Christian Vietnamese Emperor accused of killing 7 Missionaries
Napoleon III invades Southern Vietnam
Wanting the vast resources France colonizes the whole region
French temporarily there, but focused on making region French:
Advancement in the imperial system required French language, French
schooling, French customs and culture, and Christianity
Modernized through schools
emphasizing western science,
hospitals using western
medicine, and new
transportation & communication
racial and
Siam (Thailand)
• Neutral zone between
British controlled Burma &
French Indochina
• Modernization under King
Mongkut & son
• Built its own infrastructure
• Reforms came from its own
gov which reduced:
Racist treatment
Social turmoil &
Economic exploitation
Siam remains independent
As its neighbors fell to Imperialism, Siam (Thailand) remained
• King Mongkut began promoting the fact that Siam could be a
buffer between French & British colonies
• Mongkut began reforming & industrializing Siam
Modernized through schools emphasizing western science, hospitals
using western medicine, and new transportation and communication
Chulalongkorn all grown up, in real life. Son of King Mongku, tutored
by Anna Leonownes. Notice the impeccable dress of the king (center),
his son (to his right) and the other students.
The above document is evidence of:
1.economic factors
2.political factors factors: humanitarianism factors: racism
Highlight the specific evidence.
The End of the Spanish Empire
US Imperialism in the
• Cuban War of
• Presidents Cleveland and
• Attacked Philippines first
• Took over their territories
Puerto Rico
Emilio Aguinaldo
June 1900.
God Almighty knows how unjust is the war which the Imperial arms
have provoked and are maintaining against our unfortunate country! If the honest
American patriots could understand the sad truth of this declaration, we are sure
they would, without the least delay, stop this unspeakable horror.
When we protested against this iniquitous ingratitude, then the guns of
the United States were turned upon us; we were denounced as traitors and rebels;
you destroyed the homes to which you had been welcomed as honored guests,
killing thousands of those who had been your allies, mutilating our old men, our
women and our children, and watering with blood and strewing with ruins the
beautiful soil of our Fatherland.
… the Spanish government, whose despotic cruelty American
Imperialism now imitates, and in some respects surpasses, denied to us many of the
liberties which you were already enjoying when, under pretext of oppression, you
revolted against British domination.
Why do the Imperialists wish to subjugate us? What do they intend to
do with us? Do they expect us to surrender -- to yield our inalienable rights, our
homes, our properties, our lives, our future destinies, to the absolute control of the
United States? What would you do with our nine millions of people? Would you
permit us to take part in your elections? Would you concede to us the privilege of
sending Senators and Representatives to your Congress? Would you allow us to
erect one or more federal states? Or, would you tax us without representation?
Would you change your tariff laws so as to admit our products free of duty and in
competition with the products of our own soil?
Emilio Aguinaldo, Central Filipino Committee,
• Said Philippines
was betrayed by US
• Led rebellion which
lasted from 18991902, that was
brutally suppressed
by US
• US promised it
would prepare them
for self-rule.
• US encouraged
growing of cash
Why Hawaii?
Sakadas at work
on a sugar
plantation in
Hawaii. (Filipino
workers imported
by company to
work in the fields
naval base
merchant midpoint
• invaded and seized in 1893
(not by US govt, by US businessmen
and plantation owners)
• Queen forced to abdicate
(put under house arrest)
• Annexed in 1898
• State in 1959
U. S. Exports and Imports:
U. S. Foreign Investments:
The above document is evidence of:
1.economic factors
2.political factors factors: humanitarianism factors: racism
Highlight the specific evidence.
The above document is evidence of:
1.economic factors
2.political factors factors: humanitarianism factors: racism
Highlight the specific evidence.