Regents Prep: Global History: Nationalism:
Asian Nationalism
Imperialism Sparks Nationalism in Asia
Nationalistic movements in Asia are similar to those in Europe.  The goals of autonomy and self-rule are the same.  Circumstances that led to the unification or the division of a place are alike.  The catalysts for nationalism are, however, slightly different.  Both are based on the corruption or ineffectiveness of a government on its subjects, but the sources are different.  European abuse of power came from within (French kings over French people or disunity in Germany are examples).  Asian nationalistic movements for independence are a direct reaction to imperialism.  European nations were in a period of imperialization, or the taking over of another country for political, social, and/or economic gain.  In this case, the Asian countries of China, Vietnam, and India had experienced long periods of imperialism at the hands of European authorities.  As imperialism progressed, nationalistic movements rose up in an attempt to throw out foreign influence and gain independence.  

Nationalism in China
China was considered to be within the sphere of British influence, one of the forms imperialism can takeBritain never completely or directly controlled the Chinese government, led by royalty, but did influence political and economic affairs heavily.  By the end of the 19th century, British control was beginning a slow withdrawal from China.  It is at this point that nationalistic movements began succeeding where previous ones had failed.  In early 1900's, there was a successful overthrow of the Emperor called the Chinese Revolution.  This revolution was led by Sun Yixian who went on to establish the Kuomintang and be elected as a provisional president of a democratic government.  His principles were restoring Chinese pride, removing foreign influence, individual rights, land reform, and modernization.  His successor was Jiang Jieshi, who would lead the Kuomintang using the same principles.  

Another Chinese Nationalist leader, named Mao Zedong, was in direct opposition to the democratic principles of Jieshi and the Kuomintang.  Mao was a Marxist who followed the principles of communism, as opposed to capitalism.  Mao won the favor of the Chinese people during the Communist Revolution against Jieshi.  Mao's Long March was an event in which 100,000 communists walked nearly 6,000 miles while under constant fire from the Kuomintang.  It became Mao's symbol of perseverance and helped him rise to power after the Japanese invasion of China during the Second World War was finally halted.  After defeating Jieshi, Mao assumed power in 1949 as the communist leader of the People's Republic of China

Nationalism in Vietnam
European imperialism was also established on the Southeast Asian peninsula of Indo-China.  The countries of Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam had been previously imperialized by France.  One Vietnamese leader was prominent in the call for self-rule.  As shown here, Ho Chi Minh went to the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 after WWI to plead his case and ask that Vietnam be rid of any foreign influence.  He was largely ignored by the leaders of Europe and it was not until after WWII that Vietnam openly began fighting against the French.  By 1954, Ho Chi Minh had succeeded in establishing North Vietnam, with the military aid of the communist world.  To order to stop the spread of communism, the United States took control of South Vietnam from France and established a democratic government under the leadership of Ngo Dinh Diem.  The Vietnam conflict between North and South Vietnam would not end until the mid-1970's.

Nationalism in India

Great Britain had colonized the country of India during the 1700's. Indian nationalistic movements, such as ones led by the Indian National Congress, had made attempts at self-rule but had never been completely successful.  The great proponent of a free India, Mohandas K. Gandhi, was instrumental in the Indian Nationalist Movement.  Known as the Mahatma, or the Great Soul, Gandhi forced change and an end to British imperialism through a strict policy of non-violence, or passive resistance. 

Examples of his civil disobedience included boycotts such as the Salt March, and hunger strikes.  He also forced change at home by attempting to do away with the Hindu caste system.  The rigid caste system separated religious and political classes from lower classes of laborers and outcasts with no hope at social mobility.

Violent episodes, such as the Amritsar Massacre, plagued India's movement to be come free.  Great Britain, weakened by its efforts in World War II, finally conceded to Indian nationalist demands in 1948. 

Despite the influence of Gandhi, India fell into disorder.  Hindu people wanted an all-Hindu state and Muslims, led by the Muslim League wanted a separate state.  Gandhi was assassinated because of this conflict.  Eventually, Pakistan was formed as a separate Muslim state.  Therefore, the strength and will of the common people both achieved Indian independence and tore India apart.  The story of Mahatma Gandhi and Indian nationalism is one of history's greatest ironies.


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