How has the Chinese population changed the demographics in Asia?

Chinese culture
[1] The Chinese always had a migration to other Asian countries, but for what exact reasons?

Have you ever encountered a time when someone asked you where you were from, and they told you you were from a different country? For example, you would say you were from Shanghai, China and someone would mutter, Is that in Japan? Certainly, when you are not accustomed to a set of people you would mistaken them easily. Bringing this into context, how and why exactly do the Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Malaysians and Singaporeans look so similar? In this article, I hope to explore the impetuses and effects of Chinese migration throughout Asia, namely countries like 1) Japan, 2) Vietnam, 3) Malaysia and Singapore.

1) Japan
Map of Japan - Ryukyu Islands
[2] A map of the Ryukyu Islands, Japan.

One of the earliest migration of the Chinese people was to Japan. As Chinese legend has it, a sorcerer named Xu Fu was sent abroad by the stern Emperor Qing Shi Huang to Mount Fuji. Xu’s mission was to retrieve an elixir of life for His Majesty. [3] However, despite his efforts, the sorcerer was unable to find anything and was reluctant to return, as execution would await him. Eventually, Xu stayed in Japan and began a new wave of Chinese migration to Japan. [3]

The Ryukyuan Islands was believed to have remained undeveloped until around the 12th century. It was not until after many Chinese Civil Wars under the Chinese Emperor Taizu (1368-1398) that there was a change in the demographics of the Japanese island. [4] It has to be noted that the Taizu’s legacy, or indeed, the Ming Dynasty, was to rule for three centuries. Keeping in mind that China was deemed as the middle country or 中國 then, the powerful Chinese ruler called all barbarian states in the region to submit to China, prohibiting the free sea navigation and trade routes within the region. This was key, as according to Belgian historian Katrien Hendrickx, it could be seen as a civilising and diplomatic mission. [4]

In Okinawa, one of the main islands, it was divided into three main principalities – Hokuzan (北山), Chuzan (中山) and Nanzan (南山). [4] These would translate directly from Chinese or Japanese as North, Middle and South Mountain or constituencies. China’s diplomatic prestige in the South Seas were key, as Satto gave an oath of allegiance, offering gifts and in return, was offered the title of King of Chuzan, or the Middle Mountain region of the Okinawa Islands. Moreover, in 1392, the Ming Emperor had sent 36 families, as a symbol to imply many people for colonisation in the region. [4] These families were key, as they were to administer the Nahan border within the Ryukyuan Islands. Eventually, this opened the door for increasingly more seamen and merchants, who travelled to and fro, finding entrepreneurial routes between the islands and China. From then onwards, this developed a strong Chinese community, one that maintained their own modes of life, customs and dresses. [4]

2) Vietnam
Map of Southern Chinese territories
[5] The highlighted region showing the Nanyue colony, comprising of south Chinese regions (Guangdong, Guangxi and Yunnan) and north Vietnam.

In 207 BCE, under the Chinese general Zhao Tuo, the southern Chinese regions of Guangdong, Guangxi and Yunnan, together with northern Vietnam was conquered and administered principally by himself. [6, 7] This was named, according to American academic Walker, Au-lac, signifying a pacified southern region. We have to be vigilant here though, as there were many names given to this region – for example Nanyue as well.

Vietnam was split into two main ethnic constituencies – Lac Viet and Au Viet. [7] This colony was to be a centre of refugees, convicts and officers of the Han Dynasty for a full 1,000 years, of which most were men. This was significant, as men married Viet local women, and their offspring became part of the local population. Throughout the Han rule, the Vietnamese rose up through Ngo Quyen in 939 A.D. and Nguyen Trai, as part of a political struggle to gain full sovereignty for their nation. [7] This was key, as until 1829, the Vietnamese people wanted to establish a distinct Vietnamese identity amongst the Ming-Huong or Sino-Vietnamese people. Moreover, they were allowed local political rights, and assimilate to their local culture, customs and etiquette, only if they did not return to China. [6]

3) Malaysia/Singapore

[8] Map of Malaysia and Singapore.

Malaysia and Singapore have been grouped as they were both common destinations for employment in the Asian continent by the Chinese. The Malaysian Peninsula’s demographics divided into the Chinese North, Indian West, and the Dutch East Indian or Indonesian South. Since the 14th century, there has been immigration to Temaisik or Old Singapore. [9] Eventually, the Chinese diaspora expanded to Penang, Malacca and Singapore. Under British, Portuguese and Dutch rule in each of these areas, compounded with the aftermath of the Great Depression in 1929 and the outbreak of World War Two in the Asian theatre (1941-1945), the Chinese travelled from their native Guangdong and Fukien provinces for employment, family visits and retirement purposes. [9] This was fundamental, as there were kheh thaws who were professional recruiters, and the sin khah who were the new recruits or contracters.

Under the Chinese Immigration and Alien Ordinances inaugurated in 1887 and 1933 respectively, this was to limit the outflow of Chinese male immigrants to the Malaysian Peninsula. However, this was key again, as the Indian community, being part of the British royal subjects were not affected. [8] This problem prolonged until the independence of Singapore in 1966 under Lee Kwan Yew and the People’s Action Party (PAP) for Chinese sovereignty over the other Indian and Malayan inhabitants.

The Chinese diaspora to various countries namely Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore were down to colonisation, imperialism and in search of employment. In Japan and Vietnam alike, we have seen two examples of how the Ming and Han Dynasties have sent merchants, civilians or armies to spread their sphere of influence within the region. In turn, these Sino-Japanese and Sino-Vietnamese families blended together as one distinct culture, both of which were free to practise their own type of religion and customs. With Malaysia and Singapore, there has not been as significant of a population exodus by the Chinese community until the aftermath and outbreak of the Great Depression and the Second World War, in search of employment, family visits and retirement. Similar to their early Sino-Japanese and Sino-Vietnamese counterparts in Okinawa and northern Vietnam, the Chinese migrants in Malaysia struggled to find their equality amongst the locals, which caused a lot of politico-social struggles, and the eventual Singaporean independence in 1965 by Lee Kwan Yew and the PAP.

In my personal opinion, I think that through many modes of colonisation and employment opportunities, the Chinese were able to achieve their own sphere of influence within the Asian continent. Obviously, when we speak of colonial powers, we tend to get winded up in the great maritime powers – Great Britain, France, Spain, Portugal and Holland. China can be regarded differently with their impetus of spreading their cultural and economical influences across others, so that trade can flow readily back to the mainland. This is key, as this could be applied to the modern globalised world, where China is an imperial power, in the sense of being an economic and imposing country on weaker and considerably poorer countries found in Africa, South America and Asia. That might be a pointer for how to understand the notion behind encouraging the diaspora of the Chinese communities abroad not only in Asia, but perhaps in another article, to other continents and countries like America, Europe and Canada. I do not want to be far-fetched in my article, but many questions arise from this and we, particularly, as the global audience, could question the effects of these mixed societies that the Chinese bring in abundance to their adopted countries.

Right that is it from me for now, as the university year is fast approaching. I really hope you have enjoyed all my reads so far, despite it being difficult to find a suitable and encapsulating enough of a topic to analyse. If there are any comments you like to say, do not forget to write them below. Thanks a lot and bye for now! 🙂

Signed from your respective blogger,

-Seb

References
[1] http://www.travelblat.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/chinese-new-year.jpg
[2] http://www.cv14.com/cic/ryukyu2.jpg
[3] Lee, C. K., Japan: Between Myth and Reality, (London, World Scientific Publishing Ltd., 1995), Pages 7-8, http://books.google.com.hk/books?id=77ZqNbU_Y74C&pg=PA8&dq=xu+fu&hl=en&sa=X&ei=i8c7Uq-sGKLniAeCv4DIBw&ved=0CDYQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=xu%20fu&f=false, date of access: 20/9/2013
[4] Hendrickx, K., The Origins of Banana-Fibre Cloth in the Ryukyus: Japan, (Leuven, Leuven University Press, 2007), Pages 38-41, http://books.google.com.hk/books?id=ULyu8dNqS1sC&pg=PA39&dq=kumemura+people&hl=en&sa=X&ei=FL47UsaNNcOOigeu7YDQAw&ved=0CDkQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=kumemura%20people&f=false, date of access: 20/9/2013
[5] http://www.waa.ox.ac.uk/XDB/images/world/tours/china-728px-Nam-Viet_200bc.jpg
[6] Phuong, H. T., “Chapter 8: Ethnic Chinese in Vietnam and Their Identity”, in Suryadinata, L., Ethnic Chinese as South-East Asians, (ed.), (Singapore, South East Asian Studies, 1997), Pages 267-272, http://books.google.com.hk/books?id=qv-4ScjTO-AC&pg=PA273&dq=chinese+migration+to+vietnam&hl=en&sa=X&ei=S8k7Ut3rJsS0iQfBxICgBA&ved=0CEkQ6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=chinese%20migration%20to%20vietnam&f=false, date of access: 20/9/2013
[7] Walker, D. H., East Asia: A New History, (Bloomington, Author House Ltd., 2012), Page 107, http://books.google.com.hk/books?id=GBvRs-za0CIC&pg=PA107&dq=zhao+tuo&hl=en&sa=X&ei=6tA7Uv_BA8qviQf654GYDw&ved=0CEAQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=zhao%20tuo&f=false, date of access: 20/9/2013
[8] http://www.malaysia-maps.com/images/map-malaysia600.gif
[9] Saw, H-S., The Population of Peninsular Malaysia, 2nd ed., (Singapore, ISEAS Publishing, 2007), Pages 10-18, http://books.google.com.hk/books?id=e4Yp2QJNVWgC&pg=PA11&dq=chinese+migration+to+malaysia&hl=en&sa=X&ei=xMk7UqEV5IiJB5SZgLgD&ved=0CEoQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=chinese%20migration%20to%20malaysia&f=false, date of access: 20/9/2013

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Why did many ancient civilisations falter?

[1] A map showing the once great and ancient civilisations of the world – amongst them the Meso-American tribes in Central and South America, modern day Egypt, India and China

 

It has been some time since my last post and I do wish this article is worth the wait. In this edition, I will be discussing why the once great and ancient civilisations vanish from the world’s dominance and remembrance. In a world where a lot of things are occurring, amongst them being revolutions and pain-staking political transitions in countries looking into the future, I thought I would look explore the past and answer a question that has popped up in many family discussions. I dedicate this article to my sister, who has posed a very interesting question I wanted to set out and answer. Anyway, I will use a few countries from each region so that we get an overview about the topic itself – the Mayans in Central America, the Egyptians in Africa, Greece in Europe, India in Asia. Constructive comments are appreciated below.

 

1) Central America – Mayans 

The Mayan civilisation dominated Central America for 1200 years, with 900 A.D. as their golden age. Their cities glimmered with 2,000 people per square mile, almost the entire size of Los Angeles County. [2] The Mayans’ demise came to a self-inflicted tragedy that came from the aftermath of deforestation. It was believed that the Mayans used an equivalent of 20 trees so that they could accumulate enough fuel to heat up limestone, an essential component to build many structures like temples and monuments. However, 20 trees only equated to 1 square metre of lime plaster. [2] This was significant, as deforestation was detrimental to the over atmosphere, despite its agricultural (forests were cleared to plant maize) and construction properties. This was signfiicant, as according to PhD student Robert Griffin, this increased temperatures to 3 to 5 degrees higher than normal, and 20 to 30 per cent less chance of rainfall. This was also key, as this dramatically increased droughts and therefore famines. As you will see in other civilisations, many of their falterings were down to self-inflicted, man-made reasons. [2]

 

2) Africa 

2.1) Egyptians

One of the main reasons why Egypt is believed to have faltered is due to the demise and result of Pharaoh Pepy II’s long reign. After his 90 years of reign as a monarch, the whole Egyptian administration or Old Kingdom had altered drastically. [3] This was significant, as the administration became increasingly more decentralised, and thus more inclined to overthrow the monarchy. This was because the government had forbid the general public to practise key social and religious rights – namely, practise Islam and Christianity simultaneously. [3]

 

Another major reason why the Old Kingdom had vanished was down to the destruction that the River Nile brought with its flooding, due to climate changes. [3] It must be remembered that the Nile was and still is a source of income, commerce and trade for the Egyptians. Without it, this was significant, as this caused radical famine problems and brought key political institutions at a standstill. Consequently, there were many cases of cannibalism within the community and a less efficient way to control the people. [3]

 

3) Europe – Greece 

Like the Roman Empire, the height of the Greek civilisation eventually took its toll as a superpower. Greece had many city-states that participated in many activities that favoured their own self-existence. Despite having united as one collective force to defeat the common enemy in Persia, greed, corruption and conflict was tragic and saw Greece falter as a civilisation. [4] This can be highlighted through the Peloponnesian War. This was significant, as it has to be noted that with the riches of the empire, Greece was able to accommodate great philosophers, artists, mathematicians to the world. [4] However, with such high achievements, Greece became too arrogant for their own good. This was important, as this meant that a lot of soldiers became mercenaries rather than being protectors of their land as part of their civic duties. Ultimately, they fought against each other, rather than for each other. [4] 

Furthermore, since the death of Alexander the Great as a conqueror, the Greek Empire went down in decline. After the general’s death, the conquered regions were divided amongst Alexander’s generals. This was key, as this meant a lot of background conflict amongst themselves, disputing area for area. [4] Consequently, this ended as a civil war. On the one hand, the Ptolemy dynasty ruled in Alexandria in Egpyt, and on the other hand, the Seleucid dynasty ruled Persia, Mesopotamia and parts of Eurasia. However, with so many incentives to emigrate to these new lands, this prevented Greece from increasing in population and protecting herself properly. [4] 

 

4) Asia – India 

Let us move eastwards to India as an ancient civilisation. Certainly, you, as the reader, may disagree and contest my decision to have selected India especially when it is currently one of the more successful countries due to their potent textile industry found primarily in the Bengal region, that is still very much flourishing to this date. In the same light, one may also argue that China at one point, did disintegrate as a great civilisation and why it has not been included, having excelled in many arts, including literature, astronomy, inventions and mathematics.

 

However, I do think India gives a fine example of resurrecting a civilisation, despite struggling through various internal and external hiccups throughout the course of history. Personally, I feel it is more complex, and thus more interesting to discuss. For example, under Ashoka and the Mauryan dynasty, India was economically weak as they were conquered by a Greek faction state called Bactria. [5] Despite having been replaced by the Mauryan as the dominant dynasty, the Gupta’s were not as politically apt – in the sense that it was not a centralised governmental administration. This was significant, as this meant local politicians locked horns for their self-interests. [5] This was key, as this meant socially speaking, Hinduism and the caste system were favoured as a religion and form of social policy, favouring the elites particularly in the nobility or Nawabs.

 

This continued to the British, French, Dutch and Portuguese East India Companies, all competing to achieve alliances with the Nawabs, Confederacies and factions in exchange of trade and military training by these foreign powers. [6] This was significant, as this was an example of colonisation and imperialism by many countries – particularly through Orientalism and Anglicisation – which transformed the very social, political and economic climate of India, like a pendulum swinging to and fro in favour of traditional and Oriental, or modern and British methods.

 

Effectively, many of the ancient civilisations faltered due to many natural disasters and man-related reasons. In the case of the Mayans, the monumental effort to use as much wood taken from deforestation for construction building, meant that there were not enough trees to prevent any flood and in turn, increased the overall climate of the region and famines. Similarly, we have the Egyptians and the Old Kingdom, who collapsed mainly due to a decentralised government and the aftermath due to floodings from the River Nile, an important financial source for the country.

 

With natural disasters aside, Greece poses a man-related demise to the civilisation. After their golden years as an imperial power under Alexander the Great and their numerous artists, including Plato and Aristotle to name but a few, the generals became greedy amongst themselves for status and prestige, forcing the Peloponnesian War and factions within their ever-diminishing empire. Finally, we have the Indians, who faltered down to their bankruptcy and internal problems due to alteration and colonisation, brought up by the imperial powers and more importantly, through Orientalism and Anglicisation. Perhaps more importantly, these factors can definitely be considered by future leaders in their diplomacy-making, and hopefully be fundamental reminders on how to avoid further wars, conflicts and possible demise of the world. Right, I hope you enjoyed your read, and I shall join you next time on Speaking Seb – till then! Bye for now! 🙂

 

References 

[1] http://anthro.palomar.edu/political/images/map_of_ancient_civilizations.gif

[2] http://phys.org/news174152911.html

[3] http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/egyptians/apocalypse_egypt_01.shtml

[4] http://www.squidoo.com/fall_ancient_greece

[5] http://www.historyhaven.com/APWH/Decline_of_%20classical_civilizations.htm

[6] http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/empire_seapower/east_india_01.shtml

Has decolonisation positively impacted former colonies in the present times?

 

[1] Franz Fanon, a renowned anti-colonial Franco-Algerian political activist and philosopher. 

Many countries across the world has been under some type of formal or informal colonial rule at one point in their history. Whether it has been a British, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Japanese, German, Russian colony, a country has always been affected positively or negatively. In this article, I wish to use the three main global empires and their colonies – 1) British, 2) French and 3) Spain, as a medium to analyse the whether decolonisation process has been positive or negative within the overall economic, political and social situation. This will be discussed in each of the three respective colonies: 1) South Africa and Hong Kong, 2) Vietnam and New Caledonia and 3) Cuba. Again, I do appreciate your support and any comments for improvement with this very article is more than welcome.

Like always, before we begin the analysis, it is always important to comprehend the definition of decolonisation itself.  According to Oxford Dictionary, it is “when a state withdraws from a colony, thus leaving it independent” [2]. Furthermore, it is paramount to consider the level of improvement or faltering in a decolonised country. As you may know by now, I do always like to write controversial articles by mainly  posing many key questions to myself and to you, the reader. There are a web of questions that branch out: are the colonies still pretty much the same as it was during colonial times? Should we return to colonialism? Why should these countries stay as they are, as decolonised states? What positive or negative impacts have further emphasised this idea?

Franz Fanon 

As you may know, Franz Fanon was a political activist and philosopher of Franco-Algerian descent, who was dogmatic about the elements within anti-colonialism. Having been born and raised in the French colony of Martinique, together with the fact that Fanon had participated in the Second World War and Algerian War in 1958, this had greatly influenced Fanon’s ideals when writing his critique of racism and colonisation in Black Skin, White Masks [3].

Certainly, the title itself poses much significance in understanding Fanon’s stance. He argues that there is a relationship between the coloniser and the colonised, or indeed the black man in a ruling white class, is to be deemed as a norm. Despite initially considering himself French, the French racism had made Fanon disappointed, believing that this was detrimental to many Africans’ psychological health and well-being [3].  With this in mind, Fanon also argues that speaking French makes the colonised community more immersed into the colonisers’ culture, or indeed in the imagery, wears a “white mask” to conceal its own native opinions, almost blocking its projection of traditional opinions [3]. This is significant as by doing so, this is a negative impact of decolonisation, and prohibits the black man from having his own subjective views, as it has been already heavily influenced by the white and racist perspectives.

So how useful is Fanon’s argument in understanding the impact of decolonisation? Personally, I feel that Fanon definitely has a point, but having written his work as a manifesto, there has been some limitations into its feasibility. The colonised people who live in France and its colonies can still project its own ideas in French about its own native country. Simply because speaking a foreign and adopted language does not necessarily mean to conceal one’s identity or freedom of opinion. It is true that there are customs and traditions that the colonised subjects are to conform to within society, as the mask imagery suggested earlier.

However, this definitely depends on the period and the level of force used by the colonists. This is significant, as this is another example of negative impact within decolonisation, as illustrated through the film Entre les Murs or The Class. It shows that it can be a difficult situation with cultural identity in many adopted countries, where the colonised population or immigrants feel detached from the roots, unsure of their original footprint within the society. If you have not watched the movie itself, I do recommend you watching it to further understand my point. 

 

1) British colonies

[4] South African apartheid: the division between native blacks and the Afrikaans population caused major uproar throughout the continent and the world. 

South Africa

South Africa – imagine a bottle of old red wine, the residue never quite leaving the bottom of its container. Same can be said about what was left of the Anglo-Dutch colonialism in South Africa, and its overall negative remains of decolonisation. After many transitions in and out of decolonisation, firstly in 1934 from British rule, South Africa was finally decolonised in 1994 [5]. However, the remnants during the colonial times continued to stain the country socially and politically. This was and is still one of the richest and most powerful African countries, and yet frequent problems of corruption, racism, trailing towards extremist ideals of apartheid result in killings across the black and white population.

Decolonisation has definitely had a positive impact on South Africa, as it drove out the repressive white colonial rule by the Afrikaans and British governors. This was significant, as this meant white domination rather than having a more equal society. Despite the fact that not all racism and forms of decolonisation is eradicated, Nelson Mandela has improved the situation dramatically. Mandela was heavily involved with the African National Congress (ACN), as he fought for a multi-racial society in South Africa. This was significant, as this effort was repressed by the National Party and apartheid effort, forcing Mandela to trial and his eventual imprisonment in Robben Island prison and Pollsmoor prison during the early 1960’s onwards until his release in 1990 [6].

With such a recent process of decolonisation, South Africa has indeed come a long way in its rehabilitation. With the introduction of being included in the BRICS summit, the football World Cup of 2010 and more policies under Jacob Zuma, this is significant, as this is indeed an example of positive impact in the decolonisation process, meaning that the country is able to compete on a global scale economically and politically, whilst still fighting for more equality amongst the various races in the country.

Hong Kong 

With Hong Kong, the decolonisation process is interesting in its own right. Since the handover to China in 1997 and one of the latest British colonies to decolonise, there has been and still an ongoing identity crisis amongst the Cantonese local population – whether to return to the more stable, but regulated British government, or the more authoritarian and Communist rule of the mainland as a Chinese province.

The population has replicated many Western styles and attitudes in all three of social, political and economic areas from the British rule. For example, under the Basic Law, China has recognised the ‘one country, two systems’ policy, allowing Hong Kong to freely improve or alter any rule of law independently for 50 years since its handover to China from Britain in 1997 [7].  This is significant, as this shows a positive impact that Hong Kong is able to govern itself with its own ideals and incentives, despite having the mainland Chinese government imposing increasingly more restrictions on its freedom of speech and policy-making. This is a complicated situation, where again, many citizens are divided on the loyalty of either the British or the Chinese mainland. For more information, do check out my previous post about Hong Kong and its identity during and post-colonialism

2) French colonies

[8] Many French architectural buildings show remnants of its colonial past in Vietnam – but how does it compare now? 

Vietnam 

Since the Vietnamese victory in Franco-Vietnamese War, the country has been able to reestablish itself to secure a better politico-economic situation. It must be considered that with the combined Vietnamese effort from the Vietminh and Vietcong, this successfully defeated the French colonists in 1954 and the American effort to prevent another domino from falling, at the end of another proxy war in 1973. This was key, as Vietnam was left heavily crippled economically as a heavy consequence of the war effort [9].

However, since the late 1980s, the Vietnamese government has introduced more free-market reforms and Western styles of economy and policy, attracting more foreign investment. This has made many Vietnamese nouveau riche population confident in spending their money, particularly in big-name brands like Louis Vuitton and Burberry [10]. This is significant, as putting problems of democracy, capitalism and inequality aside, this does show a positive impact of decolonisation, where the Vietnamese economy has been running more smoothly with higher expenditure from the general population.

New Caledonia 

New Caledonia is a more recent international and political affair that has caused extreme controversy within the French overseas government and the UN. Since the late 19th century, New Caledonia became an important French outpost in the Polynesian Islands, primarily to raise competition within the region against the British colony in New Zealand. There has been a divided opinion between self-independence and loyalty since the 1970s, the UN has heavily suggested a referendum by the natives of the Pacific island, offering ideals of “sovereignty, freedom and greater autonomy from France” [11]. This is another example of negative process of decolonisation, where the country is again tied between freeing itself from a patriarchal colonial power or whether to retain its much sought-after independence. As shown, many countries are too anxious about not having the protection of an overlying power, as it has become to dependent on its resources and aid to function stably and effectively. 

The French government responded with a very protective stance and argued it was a central part of its republic, much like the Netherland Antilles or the British Caribbean Commonwealth territories. There has been a complicated and prolonged process and impact of decolonisation, where many leaders within the region particularly New Zealand Prime Minister Malielegaoi, has demanded the Pacific Island to find the most suitable way to solve the problem of independence in the country [11]. The question still remains, will the island ever become independent? If so, will there be or is it necessary to have another revolution to topple the government? Only time will tell…

3) Spanish colonies  

[12] The Cuban War of Independence (1895-1898) posed another historical that weighs the feasibility of colonialism. 

Cuba 

Cuba is a negative case of the decolonising period under the American intervention in the Cuban War of Independence and Spanish-American War. With the Spanish being increasingly more aggressive in their pursuit of riches in Cuba, this had significantly handicapped the autonomy of the nation. At this particular time, the US were aiming to achieve a proper overseas empire particularly within the US Frontier and the Mexican-American War [13]. Having gotten defeated in the Ten Years’ War against the Spanish, the Cubans’ incentive for independence did not die out – instead it persevered, where it had become more and more dependent on American economic wealth and aid for their lucrative business in cane sugar production. This was significant, as this meant a rather controversial situation, where Cuba, like many South American countries was swinging from a ruling country to another, dictatorship and authoritarian rule, ultimately not retaining its independence [13].

Sure, America’s intervention and political aid had been crucial in maintaining a stable country in Cuba through the Platt Amendment. Yes, under Batitsa and Castro, there were more acts to draw foreign influence within the country particularly from America and the sugar production, aiming towards a nationalist and sovereign country [13]. However, by leaving colonial rule and foreign aid, Cuba has struggled immensely, even more so under the allegiance towards the USSR during the Cold War, for purchasing its 5 million of its sugar and subsidising the country $100 million worth of Russian technology [13]. Was the USSR not another country hovering above Cuba, not allowing itself from independence? By now, Cuba was far too reliant on USSR, a subordinate to her Cold War capitalist rival in the US, to successfully survive industrially and economically, where self-determination was still questioned until late into the 20th century [13].

In summary, many countries have been under colonial and foreign rule. I have used the British, French and Spanish empires to discuss the level of impact in their respective colonies. On the one hand, countries like Cuba and New Caledonia have been ruled so much that it has become over-reliant on its patriarchal country, thus a prolonged struggle and anxious approach towards its self-autonomy and independence once and for all. This is further hardened by many years of dictatorship driving out many intellectuals to make it consistently competitive and stable as a country socially, politically and economically. On the flip side, Hong Kong and Vietnam have been increasingly more competitive and successful, despite having driven out their respective British and French colonists. They are able to shoulder the burden many economic issues themselves, with many encouragement of the free-market and capitalist policies in the nouveau riche or the practise of the Basic Law, in Vietnam and Hong Kong’s case. This could perhaps be a showdown between the true controversial debate of the effectiveness within capitalism and socialism themselves, but that is for another day’s worth of discussion. Finally, in South Africa’s case, many social problems, unfortunately, still continue to linger on, as there are many cases of cross-racial murders every year. Certainly, the sooner this problem is completely rectified, the better. However, that being said, South Africa has seen many positive outcomes of the decolonisation process. This is highlighted in the battle for racial equality against apartheid mainly by Nelson Mandela and the ANC, which has transformed a country to become more economically and politically powerful on the global stage, particularly with its recent inclusion into the BRICS summit. Thank you for your support and do comment for anything you find needs to be improved. Till next time and all the best! 🙂

References
[1] http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_meiqlbph2G1qh48heo1_400.jpg
[2] http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/decolonize
[3] http://postcolonialstudies.emory.edu/frantz-fanon/
[4] http://espressostalinist.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/apartheid-signs-in-south-africa-1956_jpg.jpg
[5] http://africanhistory.about.com/library/bl/bl-Independence-SA2.htm
[6] http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/people/nelson_mandela
[7] http://www.gov.hk/en/about/abouthk/facts.htm
[8] http://cdn.c.photoshelter.com/img-get/I0000elVmJj0McKI/s/900/900/Woman-way-market-selling-banana-Hoi-An-Vietnam-Francis-Roux-NOI-Pictures-4141.jpg
[9] http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/asia_pac/05/vietnam_war/html/introduction.stm
[10] http://abcnews.go.com/Business/story?id=3640240&page=1#.UcMUa_k3uSo
[11] http://inside.org.au/highjacking-decolonisation-french-polynesia-at-the-united-nations/
[12] http://www.spanishwars.net/img/spanish-american-war.jpg
[13] Williamson, E., The Penguin History of Latin America, (Penguin Books Ltd., London, 2009)

 

To what extent is La Francophonie a neo-colonial institution?

[1] Map of the La Francophonie – current and former participatory states.

Before I leave for Germany tomorrow on a trip, I thought I would return with a blog post about something historical and political again. This time, as you can see, I am going to be analysing how La Francophonie could be considered as a neo-colonial institution. I must note that I am not here to glorify this institution in its prestige, but I am here to discover and learn something and hopefully, by doing so, help you understand something as well. I hope you like my post and have fun reading – as usual any comments for improvement is much appreciated 🙂

I have already mentioned my love for empires before, and this is like no other topic for me. It is needless to say that when you look at the map covering the countries within this organisation, you basically see the remnants of the former ‘First’ and Second French Empires. Under La Francophonie, we have 77 participatory countries respectively, spanning from the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceania. The main idea of these institutions are primarily to connect Francophone people together, tackling economic, social, political and environmental problems on a bigger, more globalised scale, promoting notions of democracy, free trade and justice. Recently, there has been a polemic about the abuse of human rights in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda, thus challenging the liability of its membership in the Francophonie. [2]

Firstly, we could say that La Francophonie is purely an exmaple of neo-colonialism, as it tries to assert power over former territories. For example, the French Empire used to rule over Pondicherry in India. This is significant, as the Indian government are seriously considering to be part of the French institution, but with Canada in a similar situation of having a dual identity tugging between the Anglo-French influences, does this not equate to more competition for sphere of influence and eventual internal conflict? Would Pondicherry prosper better, because of its relatively small size, as a condominium or another federal state, sharing power ‘equally’ and constitutionally in theory, amongst national government and La Francophonie itself? If we shift our attention to another European power in India, namely Goa under Portuguese rule, has the Indian Prime Minister at its helm, but it does retain some form of Portuguese law and autonomy, within it since its decolonisation campaign around the 1960s [2].

At first, La Francophonie was once built around the idea of promoting cultural and educational similarities, say through cultural and sport competitions like Jeux de la Francophonie, where the countries would be administered by Paris. However, in recent summits amongst the Francophone countries, Guinea-Bassau, Mali, Madagascar have left the institution, feeling it was becoming too political and influential in its domestic affairs [4]. This is significant, as we could say La Francophonie is a neo-colonial institution, where France sees the importance of retaining its African members, as there are many foreseen statistics that by 2050, approximately 85% of the 750 million Francophone speakers will be of African origin [3]. With many civil and political unrest in the aforementioned colonies, this perhaps explains the tightening of foreign affairs in establishing socio-political order against the Malian rebels recently?


An example of La Francophonie not being a neo-colonial insitution could be explained through the observatory states. There are many observatory states in Balkans and from other empires – Spanish and Portuguese in Uruguay and Mozambique respectively. In these countries, poverty and post-colonial effects whether it was under the imperial powers or under the Communist sphere of influence, has drastically struck the economy. This is significant, as in Mozambique, we have an example of a country being tormented under civil war and only its recent democratic turn of government in 1994. There are many more investors from Brazil and China, who are injecting billions of dollars in its rich coal and gold resources [4]. However, with France and Britain under their respective institutions, the question remains of who is the dominant and most influential politico-economic power in the south-east African country itself.

Another example of La Francophonie not being purely a neo-colonial institution can be shown through its administration. Unlike its British counterpart which has the Queen has its main figurehead, La Francophonie has Abdou Diouf as Executive Secretary, former Senegalese president as the head, whilst Jacques Legendre is at its General Secretary. This is significant, as with the different styles of government amongst the British and French, the former having a monarchical and the latter having semi-presidential elements, this shows more equality and shift of being a neo-colonial administration.

In conclusion, La Francophonie, like other colonial powers, say the Portuguese under the Communities of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP) and the British under the Commonwealth of Nations, is trying to preserve its former French colonial interests and entities around the world. It has to be remembered that French, despite being overshadowed by English, Mandarin and Arabic as the three most dominant languages in the world, remains as one of the most important countries in Europe, if not the globe itself. There were recent politico-economic alliances with some Francophone countries or regions like Québec, and at times, a more isolationist role in other former colonies, but it cannot be mistaken that France’s main political influence and area stays in the African continent due to its ever increasing French-speaking population. However, until the French government has realised to carefully divide the social and political benefits and interests for its participatory countries, there might be even more states deciding to disband from La Francophonie. Does this potentially mean a return for any of the three countries (Guinea-Bassau, Mali, Madagascar) who left the institution in the next summit in Dakar 2014? Will another civil war stir up in preventing the togetherness of the organisation itself or will stability be maintained properly and fairly? Hopefully, time will tell. Hope you had a knowledgeable read here, till next time and see you soon! Have a good easter 🙂 Peace!

References 

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Map-Francophonie_organisation_2012-fr.svg

[2] http://www.thelondoneveningpost.com/africa/harper-wants-francophonie-summits-held-in-democratic-countries/3/

[3] http://mmascgoa.tripod.com/id12.html

[4] http://www.fides.org/en/news/32434?idnews=32434&lan=eng#.UU8fmRzwmSo

[5] http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/mar/27/mozambique-africa-energy-resources-bonanza

How has Hong Kong maintained or lost its identity during and after the colonial times?

Home sweet home: where do we belong?  

A controversial question: should Hong Kong return to its colonial past or embrace its more traditional Chinese past?  [1]

Following on from my last article about mainly about French identity mainly in Québec with some references to French colonialism in Nouvelle France and Louisiane, as its sub-Canadian and American counterparts, I will now turn the attention to the British colonial history in Hong Kong. This is a frequently debated topic among countless Hong Kong people, regardless of their generation or age. Throughout this article, the battle for the Fragant Harbour (Hong Kong’s Cantonese name) during the First and Second Opium Wars in 1839 to 1842 and 1856 to 1860 respectively, the effectiveness of the colonial rule under the British administration, the effectiveness of Chinese rule during the return to the mainland in 1997, the comparison of many Chief Executives through British and Chinese-Hong Kong administration in general, will be thoroughly discussed. Again, thank you for your support by reading my article!

 

1) First and Second Opium Wars 

During their expeditions to extend their colonial outposts in the world, the British landed in Hong Kong in the late 18th century. Certainly, as any colonists would find is, the importance of trade between one resource for another – whether it were the British, French, Germans, Russians, Japanese or even the Dutch, within the geopolitical region in the Scramble for China. This was done through the opium found in India, plus the silver found in Britain, exchanged mainly for the prized porcelain works and tea leaves in Hong Kong. This was significant, as many Hong Kong locals grew increasingly livid with appearing to be gaining a meagre herb with supposed curing properties, in exchange for valuable pieces of art.

 

Consequently, there were more restrictions imposed on the trade allowance and trade routes that the European powers were permitted. In doing so, this was key, as this created the First and Second Opium Wars, where the Franco-British alliance eventually swept the Chinese forces aside with their technologically advanced military and naval expertise. However and more importantly, this was key because what the Franco-British alliance did not realise, was that they were about to do was to change the course of history, particularly by installing the British administration. Thus, this was fundamental, as it greatly altered and influenced many political pessimists in contemporary Hong Kong politics, questioning the effectiveness of the current local Chinese government.


2) Colonial rule under the British

After the First Opium War, the British gained control of Hong Kong in 1842. It must be considered that before this time, Hong Kong was a hard-working fishing port, ruled principally by the Qing Dynasty, the last set of Chinese Emperors to govern the country with a monarchy.  Despite commenting on a sour note, the British Foreign Secretary, Lord Palmerston, at that time believed Hong Kong was futile for proper trade or commercial use to the British Empire at its height. [2] However, the great magnitude of being ruled by the British asserted many benefits to mould the city into what it is nowadays.

 

It must be noted that Hong Kong became renowned as a economically prosperous port city, and attracted many Chinese merchants southwards for business and work. However, the local Cantonese people and the Europeans found it hard to integrate properly, with lack of understanding in terms of common language becoming a major factor. The Boxer Rebellion in 1911 was fundamental, because this was to some extent, a detrimental ideal that affected many Chinese locals of having to try and expel foreign influence within their country. Nevertheless, the tiny Chinese population had now to succumb itself into the British influence and by learning English, fuse into the British colonial culture, as the English colonists were gaining more status and prestige within the city. [3] This was key again, as this was where Hong Kong started to find its special colonial identity. For example, this language fusion was further emphasised in different simple words borrowed from the English vocabulary in Cantonese spoken language, such as dik si for taxi, tsi si for cheese, dor si for toast…

 

Another way in which Hong Kong found its identity was the fact that it was similar to many British colonies, where the names of former governors, British cities or important people were utilised in Hong Kong as street names. For instance, Des Voeux Road was named after one of its former governors: William Des Voeux (a British administrator of French descent), Edinburgh Road after one significant city of the colonial motherland, or Victoria Harbour after Queen Victoria like in myriad other appellations in Canada, Australia or Tanzania.  

 

As many pessimists nowadays would suggest, one of the key benefits that the British brought with them was the style of administration, which again helped Hong Kong find its colonial and political identity today. This will be discussed further in the comparison of the British Governors and Chief Executives of Hong Kong below in section 4 of this article.

 

3) Post-colonial times/Chinese return 

Being the latest British colony to have its colonial past brushed away only by administration and not by general sentiment, the return to mainland China in 1997 was hugely controversial to the benefit of the Hong Kong as a city and with its population. Hong Kong, was, however, now fully recognised as a special administrative region (SAR) like Macau, also in the Canton region. The benefits of being back in Chinese, rather than British hands will be compared in the next section.


4) Comparison between the British Governors and Chief Executives of Hong Kong  

Perhaps this should be called the nucleus of this article, as it is the most important part that I want to bring out to the reader, especially if they were from Hong Kong, as the above should be familiar to some relative extent. It must be said that instead of simply jotting down some historical facts here and there, the main idea of recognising Hong Kong’s identity nowadays is mainly political, despite its historical elements, is necessary. This will be done by a comparison and contrasting of the British and Hong Kong administration before and after the return of the SAR.

 

1) British administration in general 

Ultimately, the British created an apt civil service by using a bureaucratic system. This was significant, as this created stability rather than corruption in Hong Kong, and more importantly, respect for the conduct of law from the civilians. It must be noted that the ex-British colony had competent policy-makers from London and others across Britain whether it were Sir Chris Patten or Lord Wilson, who instilled a democratic system and despite being seen as arrogant sometimes, were considerate and “sensitive” to the colonial population when necessary. [4]

 

This, however, was and is heavily contrasted since the handover of Hong Kong back to China  in 1997. This is because many protestors have increasingly took to the streets, especially under the reign of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying. With Leung believed to have lied about his estate and its size, this was significant, as this disgruntled the Hong Kong people by believing that Leung was a dishonest and incompetent ruler for the region. [5] This unpopularity is further emphasised in the anti-Beijing protests, where many people took to the streets British colonial flags with them, sentiments of toppling Leung before the election in 2017 and the corrupt politics of being supported and voted by the Communist cadres for Leung’s rule in Hong Kong.  [6]

 

2) Hong Kong administration in general 

This stable and democratic governance under the British colonial administration quickly dissipated since Tung chee-wah’s rule as Chief Executive in 1998. Hong Kong was and is still under the watchful eye of China’s authoritarian and totalitarian Communist state party. [4] The government is essentially a puppet state, a replica of China’s social, political and economic interests. One major way of economic flow is mainly by reclamation (the creation of land from mountains, hills or sea) and the manufacture of numerous residential buildings across Hong Kong.

 

With the connection back with China, Hong Kong is dependent on trade and free market with the mainland. However, with this interconnection among the two parts of China, this essentially means that a lot of immigration and cross-border goods, particularly milk powder, to and from Hong Kong have been exploited, much to the displeasure of the Hong Kong locals at Lo Wu. [7]

 

Shedding light from my previous article about Québec’s contested identity, Hong Kong is also a territory of “one country, two systems”. For example, under the Basic Law, Hong Kong must provide protection of citizens’ civil rights and maintain democratic features within the region. [7] However, it is generally perceived that Hong Kong is to become fully Communist, half a century after the handover in 2047. Subsequently, the level of personal freedom politically and economically in Hong Kong will not be fully guaranteed.

 

Another main socio-political Hong Kong that has raised major eyebrows across China, is the level of Chinese identity. Many people would prefer being called Hong Kongese, with a fetish for its illustrious 20th century film industry with many renowned action actors across the world, namely Bruce Lee, Jacky Chan, Jet Li, Chow yun-fat and Stephen Chow. In education and commerce, there has been more appreciation for the Mandarin language, rather than the Cantonese one, thus creating apprehension for the Cantonese-speaking population in Hong Kong. [7]

 

Effectively, Hong Kong had a colonial past under British administration and a increasingly more Communist-influenced outlook after its approximate 16 years of Chinese return. Under each patriarchal power, Hong Kong has flourished well, particularly in an economic sense. However, the more important question to raise is whether Hong Kong flourished more under the British or Chinese rule.
In my opinion, I believe in terms of social success and civil satisfaction, the British have proven to be more considerate and sensitive to the Hong Kong population, leaving with them an effective code of law still practised and similar in Hong Kong to this very date. Conversely, in terms of economic success, Hong Kong has blossomed, despite being controversial and heavily disputed, with its open market and dependence with China, allowing many job opportunities for a wide range of international audience to work in its society properly. Finally, politically, this is perhaps the purpose of the article: to assess the level of identity in the Hong Kong region. Does it have a British or Chinese identity, or at least willing to link itself up with its predecessors colonially or culturally? It is a very hard point to decide, as many people are left undecided: Britain had the more politically ‘correct’ way of administration under bureaucracy, and under China, the Cantonese population, although it is again contested, feel more Chinese than they were before, being a post-colonial population. Alright, that is it from me now, exams and revision mode on, I cannot guarantee the next article, but I hope you enjoyed your read and until then! 🙂

 

References 

[1] http://flagspot.net/images/h/hk-1957.gif

[2] http://www.cnn.co.uk/2012/06/30/world/asia/hong-kong-china-anniversary/index.html

[3] http://www.metropolasia.com/Hong_Kong_History_in_brief/British-colonialism

[4] http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203960804577239252005926874.html

[5] http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1101727/protesters-urge-hong-kong-chief-executive-leung-chun-ying-quit?page=all

[6] http://www.theweek.co.uk/asia-pacific/50781/hong-kongs-leung-chun-ying-hit-anti-beijing-protests

[7] http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/6767861.stm

How has the French-Canadian identity persisted and struggled through to the contemporary time?

The Blue Thorn in the Four Red Roses 

QUÉBEC’S QUESTIONING OF CANADIAN IDENTITY STILL AN ONGOING ISSUE [1]

Ever since an early age, I have always enjoyed reading and researching on many empires, particularly the French colonisation in the Americas, most notably in Nouvelle France and Louisiane, what is now Canada and parts of the modern United States. I have always been fascinated with how whilst the majority of Canada is Anglophone, the East was and is still predominantly Francophone and very keen to preserve their French roots. With this sort of notion, I hope that this interest can be reminiscent in my research here. There are obviously many events that happened that has stringed themselves to make Québec the special region of Canada that it is now, and as usual I hope to understand this better through this article, both historically and politically speaking. Thank you for reading.

I will cover many things as aforementioned, from the start of the French colonisation in Canada and Québec with Samuel de Champlain’s colonial ventures, the Seven Years War (1759-1763), the decisive Battle on the Plains of Abraham in 1763, the Treaty of Utrecht and the Treaty of Paris in 1713 and 1763 respectively, the Québec Act in 1774, the overall effect of the Revolutionary War, and then into the modern era with the Patriotes’ Rebellion of the 1830s, the role of the Parti Québecois (PQ) under Levesque, and modern Québecois identity in social and political terms.

Role of the colonial expenditions – the colonial impetus 
Before analysing the French identity in Québec as a whole, let us understand initially the early French attempts at navigating and settling within the American continent. Despite many efforts during the early 15th and 16th centuries by the French kings Henri II, François I and Henri IV to encourage French navigation and eventual settlement of the North and Latin American continent. There were many expeditions in Nouvelle France principally under Jacques Cartier, Giovanni da Verrazano, Pierre du Gua and Samuel de Champlain (called Champlain hereafter), whilst France Antartique or the contemporary Brazil was navigated by Nicolas de Villegagnon. However, these were all unsuccessful with many other countries namely the English, the Portuguese and Native American forces frequently intervening and destroying the settlements. Moreover, the cold weather in Nouvelle France was significant, as it prevented the sailors to find enough warmth and nutrients to survive the brutal freezing weather when it really mattered most.Fortunately, after much struggle and meditation of the most appropriate spot to create a new French settlement, Samuel de Champlain, known more commonly as the Founding Father of Canada established Québec City in 1608. Here, Champlain persevered as a key mediator, through countless returns between France and Nouvelle France. This was key, because this was an attempt to spur denser settlement in the newly found crown colony and to find suitable alliances from Native Americans. This was also key, because these alliances brought the French and Native Americans closer together and ensured bilateral trust amongst key leaders and Champlain himself, as the new Vice Roy of Nouvelle France, under Henri IV’s perpetual compassionate delight and agreement.
1) The French settlements and its policies
The first way in which the French identity was preserved was through the early settlements and its policies. Since the French nation was embedded in bloody Wars of Religion, mainly through the Catholic Bourbons and the Protestant Huguenots, Champlain envisaged and strived for integration and accord amongst many peoples, irrespective of their religious, racial or social backgrounds. Furthermore, as Vice-Roy of the region, Champlain introduced the seigneurial system and used many propagandist ways to lure the French middle class families, military servicemen, aristocrats and merchants to inhabit in the French crown colony with many lucrative business in the fur trade and maple syrup manufactures [2]. This was significant, as this meant a type of feudal or modern day classical Communist system, which helped Champlain to proportion and distribute plots of land to a seigneur or landlord and habitants or peasant, of whom lived and worked in communes called a seigneurie. In order to fully propel this type of agricultural sector, the seigneur needed many settlers of whom were recruited from France [2].
Effect of the Anglo-French wars over Québec 
Often called the first ever World War, the Seven Years War (1759-63) turned all the colonial superpowers in a bilateral conflict, with these two main alliances vying politically and militarily against each other. Out of all the battles in Europe and America, one of the biggest battles that took places was that of the Plains of Abraham in Québec, commanded by the French generals Marquis de Montcalm and Marquis de Vaudreuil against the infamous and young British general James Wolfe.With the French government believing Québec was not as lucrative of a colony in terms of wealth as Haiti with the coffee trade, this was significant as North American colony was abandoned by the young king Louis XIV under the great influence of Cardinal Richelieu. Moreover, it is often believed that if the French administration had been more forthcoming by sending around 1,000 troops to the region, then there would have been a significant chance to fend off the British challenge within the region. However, with the passivity and indifference shown, this was also key, as this ultimately ended in many treaties, namely the Treaty of Utrecht and Treaty of Paris, between the Franco-British governments, and was important because the French lost all their Canadian colonial outposts, as opposed to other more valuable West Indian colonies in the slave trade like Martinique and Guadeloupe, and was only permitted to retain the miniscule Franco-Canadian island ofSaint Pierre et Miquelon as a fishing outpost.To the great discontent of the Québecois or Franco-Canadians, they had to flee to other French colonies within the North American continent to other Canadian regions such as Acadia, New Brunswick or further south in the United States like Vermont, Missouri and in particular, Louisiana. However, for those who remained in Québec, felt they were greatly mistreated by the increasingly frustrated and aggressive British administration.
2) Québec Act 
After countless revolts and violence used on the Québecois civilians, the Québec Act was finally passed on 22 June 1774 and came into play on 1 May 1775. The Québec Act extended the borders of the region, including the Labrador to the north, Ile d’Anticosti and Iles de la Madeleine to its eastern border, plus a small section of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers to its south [3]. Moreover, the Québec Act recognised the Roman Catholic religion as one of the main theologies, apart from the Protestant religion that was encouraged by the the British colonists within the region itself [4]. More importantly, it preserved the French civil law, the early colonial usage of the seigneurial system established by Champlain and incorporated the British criminal law. This was significant, as this was the second way in which the French identity was preserved through to the present times.However, with many loyalists and Amerindians arriving from the contemporary United States after the end of the American Revolutionary Wars in 1783, there was a push for  another settlement, as they felt the Mississippi and Ohio territories belonged to them. Consequently, the Constitutional Act was signed in 1791 for two main reasons [6]. Firstly, this created and divided the Province of Québec into two regions completely, one being called Upper Canada or Ontario, and the Lower Canada or Québec. This was significant, as the appellation sparked many controversy among many Canadians, particularly of the geographical location, confusion and supposed bigotry that was imposed into which was the superior state at the time. Secondly, the Constitutional Act also aligned the administration of the region itself, with the introduction of a Legislative Council and Assembly [6]. This was significant, as this meant more stability to the region, with an proposed or apparent consideration of the intents of the Québecois people. However, to what extent was this considering the ‘lesser’ population or Franco-Canadian community?
3) Patriotes’ Rebellion 
This leads us coherently to the Patriotes’ Rebellion in 1837, where the Franco-Canadians were increasingly dissatisfied with the Seven Years War’s defeat and the creation of Lower Canada. This was key, as this created social disorder within the region. The French and Irish immigrants established the Patriotes led by Louis-Joseph Papineau, who opposed the para-military and British colonial authorities called the Doric Club [7]. Furthermore, Papineau’s role was significant, as he pressed for a more democratic government based on the American model. Moreover, as the undisputed leader of Québec by many Franco-Canadians, Papineau wanted to mobilise and organise as many types of people independently, without English interference. This was important, because this resulted in violence and trades of gunfire, which saw the British imperial forces decisively and significantly destroying the Patriotes’ cause for more independence [7].
4) Modern Québecois politics 
As Québec modernised into the late 20th century, there were many different movements that took place under different leaders from across the North Atlantic border. Firstly, the Parti Québecois under Rene Levesque, like the Quiet Revolution under the tutelage of Jean Lesage and Maurice Duplessis, the 1970’s was key in preserving strong French identity in Québec [8]. Levesque fought for sovereignty and founded the  Mouvement souverainté-association in November 1967. This was significant, as this meant Levesque was campigning for Québecois independence and a new political status within Canada. Despite initial defeats of obtaining sufficient seats and elections in 1970 and 1973, Levesque was victorious in 1976, winning in Taillon against the federal and Liberal party under Robert Bourassa [9]. Levesque pushed for referendums and the Québecois government under him established the Bill 101. This was significant as this meant that the French identity was preserved, where the French language was fully recognised as the official language in the region. However, the 1980 referendum was unsuccessful with only 40% supported Levesque in his quest for sovereignty [9]. To this date and after another unsuccessful referendum in 1995, the separatist region of Québec have continued to force referendums to enforce the main idea of sovereignty, with little avail.
Recently, there were many negotiations which have taken place between the Québecois government under Premier Pauline Marois and French President François Hollande. Under Hollande and similar to earlier presidents Charles de Gaulle and Jacques Chirac, France has adopted a more participatory stance in Franco-Québecois political and economic ties, with claims of “fraternity and continuity”, rather than indifference employed by former French presidents François Mitterand and Nicolas Sarkozy [10]. Despite Hollande replicating Chirac’s supportive stance as saying “France will follow the same road as Quebec”, whether a separatist movement should be fully accepted and backed because of the Québecois minority government in Canada remains food for thought [10].

In conclusion, there were many different ways that the French identity was preserved through through time, whether it was the initial seigneurial system introduced by Champlain, the Québec Act of 1774 or the modern Québecois politics that still has its marks today in Franco-Canadian and between the Anglo-French Canadians within the country. Personally, the most important factor that fought for the preservation of the French identity within the region was the persistence of the Québecois civilians themselves. This was significant, because despite countless pivotal events, namely when Cardinal Richelieu influenced Louis XIV to not fully commit France to the Québecois cause during the Seven Years’ War, or the revolutions as we saw in the Patriotes Rebellion and the Quiet Revolution with the British imperial forces and administration try to quell the social uprising to a standstill, the Québecois never really gave up on their own cultures and customs. This is key, as this means that the fleur-de-lys flag flies proudly in any Québecois town, but the debate for another day perhaps is whether the nation should be anti-liberal with encouragement for a strongly Francophone region, imposing more aggressive policies on immigrants and autarky. Stayed tuned, as I hope to publish another interesting article soon enough. Till next time 🙂

References 
[1]http://xtimeline.s3.amazonaws.com/Upload/Use200902101901301470691/Elt200903032051011863544.jpg
[2] http://quebec.acadian-home.org/seigneural-systems.html
[3] http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/featured/champlain-and-the-founding-of-quebec
[4] http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/articles/quebec-act
[5] http://www.ushistory.org/declaration/related/cqa.htm
[6] http://www.canadahistory.com/sections/eras/britishamerica/conact1791.htm
[7] http://www.marxists.org/history/canada/quebec/patriotes-rebellion/introduction.htm
[8] http://faculty.marianopolis.edu/c.belanger/quebechistory/events/quiet.htm
[9] http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/articles/rene-levesque
[10] http://www.lapresse.ca/le-soleil/actualites/politique/201210/15/01-4583311-francois-hollande-donne-satisfaction-a-pauline-marois.php

The South China Sea

The South China Sea has always been a disputed geo-political area and topic, so what are the different perspectives of the respective countries involved? [1]

Despite the fact that in every Asian language that directly translates the term “South China Sea”, it must be bizarre to some why it is the sea of “South China” rather than other geographical descriptions namely South Japanese, Western Filipino, Eastern Vietnamese, Northern Malaysian, North Bruneian or indeed, South Taiwanese. Perhaps that is why it is such a disputed area, with the appellation already adding coal to the huge fire of diplomacy in the South East Asian seaboard. I hope to utilise this space to analyse the current affairs and look at different perspectives of the main countries concerned in this political rally, particularly China, Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines and the United States. This will be discussed with the three main sets of islands: the Paracel Islands, the Spratly Islands and the Diaoyu Islands, using politics, international relations elements and some historical touches here and there. Again, any constructive comments on how I can improve is always welcome and I hope you enjoy your read here.

The Paracel Islands 

In this set of islands, a lot of important resources such as oil and gas blocks are disputed by Vietnam, China and Japan. China, being a global superpower, took the situation with an iron fist, and during a car journey with the Japanese ambassador, the Japanese flag was removed from the vehicle. [2] With many actions without the Vietnamese government’s consent, China sent foreign companies to Vietnam’s oil reserves particularly associated with companies such as American-owned Exxon Mobil Corp and Russia’s OAO Gazprom. [2]This is significant, because in response, the Vietnam people have reacted extremely angrily, showing their displeasure with many protests aimed at the Chinese government policies, together with a maritime law that claims their right of sovereignty in both the Paracel and Spratly Islands in June 2012. [2, 3] However, the Chinese military has planned to build fortifications on the Paracels, in order to further enact their own allegations on these territories.

The Spralty Islands 

Perhaps the most fundamental of all three schools of islands, the Spratly Islands are rich in oil and gas, strategic in sea ports for each of the nations’ navy. Similar to the Scramble for Africa or the Scramble for China, these islands are disputed by many countries, namely Chinese, Vietnamese, Taiwanese, Bruneian, Malaysian and Filipino, with all of these governments claiming their rights for administration. [4]
The Chinese government is again taking an aggressive stance with this geopolitical situation, arguing that the Filipino government under Aquino have wrongly claimed sovereignty to a disputed island in the Spratly Islands area. [4] This is key, as the Chinese government continues to flex its muscle in power to the world, showing its allegations and rights upon these islands, despite being frequently contestable and illegitimate. Ma Zhaoxu, the Chinese foreign minister representative, stated that China had “indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea islands and their surrounding waters” on this island, much against the Filipino government’s claims. This is again essential, because this increases the diplomatic tensions between the Sino-Vietnamese and Sino-Malaysian governments. Similar to the Vietnamese government, the Filipino administration reacted aggressively, by travelling to Pagasa Island (a sub-island within the Spratly archipelago) and declared it their own rightful territory. [4]
Fortunately, the ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) are meeting in Bali, aiming to have resolutions over these territories and reducing further diplomatic confrontations by all the countries involved. [4]

The Diaoyu Islands 

It is legitimate that the world knows this set of islands as Diaoyu, in Mandarin pinyin meaning the Fishing Islands, and having the Chinese government once again disputing with a nation over their rights over the territory, this time being the Japanese government.

This is especially key, because, according to Chinese foreign minister representative, Hong Lei, the Diaoyu Islands were originally discovered and administered territorially and militarily under the navy, by the Chinese government dating back to the late 14th century to the mid 17th centuries, under Hu Zongxian, the Zhejiang governor of the Chinese Ming Dynastry. [5] However, the Japanese government did claim the islands during the Sino-Japanese War in 1895, calling these islands the Senkaku Islands. To add to the complication, the Cairo Declaration and the Potsdam Conference which occurred after the defeat of Japan in the post-WWII years, saw Japan taking these islands that had rightfully belonged to the Chinese and Taiwanese governments. [5]
This alleged right by the Chinese government was put into limelight by 14 Chinese sailors and political activists, comprising of Hong-KongeseMacanese and mainland locals, were aggressively arrested by the Japanese upon arrival on the Diaoyu Islands on August 15, in protest of the Japanese proclaiming their rights on the islands. [6]
Conversely, the Japanese national government has disagreed and forbade the Tokyo local government to land in the Diaoyu Islands. This is significant, as the Japanese national national government is perceived to want more stability and a reduction of tension in the Sino-Japanese relations. [7] This ease of tension idea was further enforced when the Tokyo governor, Shintaro Ishihara, wanted to purchase the island in April as a way to assert Japanese rule on these islands. Worse still, there is a complex and rather ironic situation, where despite the fact that the Japanese government wants to discuss terms with the Kurihara family to formally stop their desires for sovereignty over the islands, the Japanese government are believed to have offered 2 billion yen ($25.4 million USD) to administer these islands under state control. [7]
United States reaction to geo-political situation 
With many states having diplomatic disputes over these aforementioned lands, American officials have taken their roles in trying to resolve this tense situation. Clinton, the American Foreign Secretary, has stated that these islands are in a tough decision whether to continue with economic and political ties with the Western countries or start to favour Chinese economic and political power. [8] This is significant, as there are many members of the ASEAN upon discussion, who believe China is frequently attempting to expand territorially, economically and politically within these areas. Consequently, all regional leaders have been instructed by the United States to come to terms with the Chinese government as diplomatically as possible, particularly with unsuccessful attempts to do in July. [8]Upon Clinton’s departure from Beijing, American Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta, is to highlight to China America’s idea of dealing with this geo-political situation as diplomatically as possible, without the use of imperialism or force. [8] This is fundamental, because the Chinese government has argued that the Americans have only acted in their own national security and political interests, which satisfy them in their own way. Furthermore, China believes that the South China Sea problem should be managed between themselves and the other affected countries. Nevertheless, this is important, as American retaliated by stating the less powerful nations are easier swayed away with Chinese political desires, putting them on the back foot. [8]

In effect, all these disputed areas are rich in oil and gas, important resources to all countries involved. With the Chinese government acting aggressively in these geographical area of the South China Sea, claiming their allegations of these lands, the other smaller countries have their opinions easily pushed away into the corner, as we saw in the Paracel Islands and Spratly Islands, where lesser countries namely Vietnam, Philippines, Taiwan, Brunei and Malaysia were out-powered politically.

However, the Diaoyu Islands presented a different and a lot more tense of a diplomatic problem, with Japan able to come to confrontations with China, matching her status as a global power and asserting their own opinions despite aggressively, but decisively to prove her own point where her territories lie specifically. Consequently, this is all significant, because despite the Chinese arguing for their own national interests against America and other countries, the Americans reacted with an orthodox political stance of ‘world policeman’, trying to restore peace and stability in these troubled waters. In my personal opinion, I believe that no country can have everything they want in this world, particularly with such an abundance of countries tangled in this situation. Thus, I think that all these countries have to come to a legitimate compromise, not one of the post-Second World War treaties where it left only the main participants satisfied, but one that could be resolved as fairly as possible. For example, if one country has X sets of land, then another country should have Y sets of land, after that the third with Z sets of land, and so on. Or at the worst, create condominiums of these countries, splitting the islands in the required amounts geographically and politically. If this sort of equilibrium is achieved, a reduction of political tension and potential war would be greatly appreciated by the world audience.

Thank you for reading my blog and I hope you liked it!
Bye for now! (:

References 
[1] http://qph.cf.quoracdn.net/main-qimg-fcf0417c5b2724b416fc3cddaeed204d
[2] http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-08-28/china-offers-oil-exploration-blocks-near-disputed-waters-1-.html
[3] http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/22/world/asia/china-criticizes-vietnam-in-dispute-over-islands.html?_r=0
[4] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-14230708
[5] http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/china/2012-08/25/c_131806321.htm
[6] http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/728438.shtml
[7] http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/world/2012-08/28/content_15710690.htm
[8] http://www.businessweek.com/ap/2012-08-31/clinton-in-south-pacific-with-china-in-focus

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