East Asia, the Pacific and International Studies

Chapter 8
East Asia, the Pacific, and
International Studies
Demography and Development
Introduction: Why Study East Asia and
the Pacific?
• Huge geographic scale of East Asia and the
– East Asia is the most populous region of the world’s
most populated continent
– 30% of the world’s population lives in East Asia
– East Asia has a very diverse land mass
East Asian civilizations have a long history
Abundance of diverse cultures in East Asia
East Asia is a rising economic power
East Asia has great political power in the world
[Figure 8.1 The Great Wall of China, while not visible from space, is an important symbol of China, Photo S.
Toops ]
• Asia is divided into four regions:
– Northeast Asia
– Southeast Asia
– South Asia
– Central Asia
• This chapter focuses on Northeast Asia and
Southeast Asia
Geography - Northeast Asia
• Northeast Asia encompasses five countries:
– China
– Japan
– Taiwan
– North Korea
– South Korea
• China and Taiwan are ethnically Chinese
• North and South Korea are ethnically Korean
Geography – Southeast Asia
• Southeast Asia is comprised of eleven
– Mainland countries: Burma (Myanmar), Thailand,
Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos
– Peninsular countries: Malaysia and Singapore
– Island countries: Indonesia, Philippines, Brunei,
East Timor
• This region is a crossroad of influences from
China and India
Geography - Pacific
• Pacific countries include
– Australia and New Zealand
– Melanesia: Papua New Guinea, Solomons,
Vanuatu, Fiji, New Caledonia
– Micronesia: Nauru, Kiribati, Micronesia, Guam,
– Polynesia: Tonga, Samoa, French Polynesia,
American Samoa, Hawaii
[Map 8.1 Map of Asia]
Australia and New Zealand
[Map 8.2 Map of Australia and New Zealand]
• Indigenous kingdoms and empires have
dominated East Asia through its long history
• Chinese empires were established in the
Yellow River valley in 2000 BCE
• The Japanese empire dates back to 50 BCE
• Early civilizations were established due to the
rich agriculture of the region
History – European Colonialism
• European colonialism was very strong in Southeast Asia
but less so in Northeast Asia
Dutch colonized Indonesia
French colonized Indochina
British colonized Malaya
Spanish, then US colonized Philippines
• All of the European powers gained some territorial
control in China
• French, British, Germans and Americans all had colonies
in the Pacific
• Resistance to colonialism in the form of nationalism
– Most countries were free from colonial rule by the 1970s
• Asia has a significant degree of diversity
• Every country has its own language system
• Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Daoism, and Confucianism
are present in Asia
• By 1950 Marxist atheism prevailed over traditional
religious beliefs in China and North Korea
• East Asian culture is found in many places around the
• In the Pacific, cultural complexities include aboriginal
peoples of Australia and Maori culture in New Zealand.
• In Polynesia, Melanesia, and Micronesia local languages
as well as Pijin (Pidgin English) are used.
• Asian economic developmental success is a structural
economic system
– Japan is the economic leader
– Close behind Japan are the newly industrialized countries:
Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and South Korea
– The third group is Thailand, Malaysia, and soon China
– The fourth group consists of Indonesia
– The poorest group are countries like Cambodia
• In the Pacific,
– Australia and New Zealand have developed economies
– Other Pacific countries have subsistence economies
– Tourism is important in Polynesia and Hawaii
[Figure 8.2. Agricultural activity in South East Asia focuses on rice production as shown here in Thailand. Photo
S. Andrus.]
• East Asia has two models of state formation since
the 1950s:
– Japan became a democracy following WWII
– China became communist following WWII
• Political freedoms and human rights remain issues
for communist China
• In Southeast Asia, political tensions are strongly
related to colonial past
– Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was
formed to facilitate political cooperation in the region
• Many countries in the Pacific are independent.
– France, US and New Zealand still control territories
[Figure 8.3 Tiananmen Square in Beijing. Chairman Mao’s portrait is at the center. On the left, the banner says 10,000
years to the People’s Republic of China. On the right, the banner reads 10,000 years to the great unity of the peoples of
the world. Photo S. Toops.]
Social Issues: Demography
• Most countries in East Asia have low rates of
population growth
• Currently East Asia is home to 2.1-1.2 billion
people and Asia as a whole is home to 60% of the
world population
– To control population growth, a limit of one child per
family has been employed in China
– Singapore has the opposite problem and are
encouraging people to have more children
– In the Pacific, Australia and New Zealand have low
population growth rates, while other Pacific Countries
have high population growth rates.
[Figure 8.4. Most people in Singapore live in huge housing complexes supported by the government. Photo: S.
Social Issues: Demography
• Urbanization is another issue in East Asia
• Huge cities with populations over 1 million or not
uncommon and a city of 200,000 is considered a
small town
• The level of urbanization in Northeast Asia is
much higher than that of Southeast Asia
• Japan and South Korea are over 70% urban
• Australia and New Zealand are highly urbanized,
urbanization varies in the rest of the Pacific
[Figure 8.5. This family in Shanghai has their future hope pinned on the success of their grand daughter. Photo:
S. Toops]
Asian Economic Situation
• After World War II, economic growth meant
sustaining an annual increase in GDP at 5% or
– Third world countries were obtaining this goal, but
standards of living were not going up
– Not a very good indicator of economic growth
• By the 1980s, development expanded to political
and cultural aspects rather than just economic
aspects: life-sustenance, self-esteem and freedom
• Sustainable development seeks to balance
economic growth, social equity, and
environmental protection for the long term
Goals for Development
• In Japan and South Korea, the government
works with corporations to set goals and aims
for the economy
– Have moved away from export and industry to hitech goods and services
• In China, until the 1980s the economy was
totally controlled by the state. Since then they
have begun moving toward a market economy
– Resembles what Japan and South Korea have done,
but the state still plays a very large role in the
Development and China
• Three reasons why China’s development is important
– One of the largest populations by size
– Economic growth has been rapid
– Heavily involved in world politics
• In the 1950s land reform by Mao Zedong brought
agriculture and heavy industry to the forefront of
China’s economy (Great Leap Forward)
– The system put in place failed and resulted in famine in
which many people died
• Deng Xiaoping set forth Reform China in 1979 in which
people were responsible for more land
– Light industry became the focus of Reform China
Development and China
• As a result of the reforms of the late 1970s, trade
and services have boomed in China
– Initially relied on the Soviet Union for trade
– Have now seen great success in foreign investment and
trade as result of open-door policy
– Tourism has also become big business since Deng’s
• Life sustenance in China has increased
dramatically since Deng’s reforms
• Self-esteem and freedom are still a goal in China
and elsewhere
The Role of East Asia in the World
• East Asia is regarded as highly as Europe and the
United States as its economy continues thrive
• Asian culture is becoming more and more
widespread as religion, food, films, and other
cultural components of life enter the world
through globalization
• China especially has become more globally
connected and serves important roles in the world
– Permanent member of the UN Security Council
– Beijing 2008 Olympics

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