Coloniser, Colonies and Date of Independence:

  •  United Kingdom:
    1.  Hong Kong (1997)
    2.  India (1947)
    3.  Burma (1948)
    4.  Palestine (1948)
    5.  Malaya (1957)
    6.  Ceylon (1948)
    7.  North Borneo (1963)
    8.  Sarawak (1963)
    9.  Singapore (1963)
    10.  Brunei (1984)
  •  France:
    1. French India (1954)
    2.  Vietnam (1945)
    3.  Cambodia (1953)
    4.  Laos (1953)
  •  Portugal:
    1. Portuguese India (1961)
    2.  Macau (1999)
    3.  Timor-Leste (1975/2002)
  •  Spain:
    1.  Guam (1898)
    2.  F.S. Micronesia (1899)
    3.  Northern Mariana Islands (1899)
    4.  Palau (1899)
    5.  Philippines (1898)
  •  Netherlands:
    1.  Indonesia (1949)
    2. Netherlands New Guinea (1962)
  •  Soviet Union:
    1.  North Korea (1948)
  •  Australia:
    1.  Papua New Guinea (1975)
  •  United States:
    1.  Philippines (1946)
    2.  South Korea (1948)

(A) South-East Asia:

  • With the rejuvenated nationalist movements in wait, the Europeans returned to a very different Southeast Asia after World War II.

(1) Indonesia:


  • Beginning in the 16th century, successive waves of Europeans—the Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch and British—sought to dominate the spice trade at its sources in India and the ‘Spice Islands’ (Maluku) of Indonesia. This meant finding a way to Asia to cut out Muslim merchants who, with their Venetian outlet in the Mediterranean, monopolised spice imports to Europe. Spices were highly coveted not only to preserve and make poorly preserved meat palatable, but also as medicines and magic potions.
  • The arrival of Europeans in South East Asia is often regarded as the watershed moment in its history.

(a) The Portuguese:

  • The nutmeg plant is native to Indonesia’s Banda Islands. Once one of the world’s most valuable commodities, it drew the first European colonial powers to Indonesia.
  • New found Portuguese expertise in navigation, ship building and weaponry allowed them to make daring expeditions of exploration and expansion. Starting with the first exploratory expeditions sent from newly conquered Malacca in 1512, the Portuguese were the first Europeans to arrive in Indonesia, and sought to dominate the sources of valuable spices and to extend the Catholic Church’s missionary efforts. The Portuguese turned east to Maluku and through both military conquest and alliance with local rulers, they established trading posts, forts, and missions.
  • Ultimately, the Portuguese presence in Indonesia was reduced to Solor, Flores and Timor following defeat at the hands of indigenous Ternateans and the Dutch in Maluku, and a general failure to maintain control of trade in the region.
  • In comparison with the original Portuguese ambition to dominate Asian trade, their influence on Indonesian culture was small.
  • The most significant impacts of the Portuguese arrival were the disruption and disorganisation of the trade network mostly as a result of their conquest of Malacca, and the first significant plantings of Christianity in Indonesia.

(b) Dutch East-India Company:

  • In 1602, the Dutch parliament awarded the VOC a monopoly on trade and colonial activities in the region at a time before the company controlled any territory in Java. In 1619, the VOC conquered the West Javan city of Jayakarta, where they founded the city of Batavia (present-day Jakarta).
  • The Dutch followed the Portuguese aspirations, courage, brutality and strategies but brought better organization, weapons, ships, and superior financial backing. Although they failed to gain complete control of the Indonesian spice trade, they had much more success than the previous Portuguese efforts. They exploited the factionalisation of the small kingdoms in Java establishing a permanent foothold in Java, from which grew a land-based colonial empire which became one of the richest colonial possessions on earth.

(c) French and British interlude:

  • After the fall of the Netherlands to the French Empire and the dissolution of the Dutch East India Company in 1800, there was some changes in the European colonial administration of the East Indies. The Company’s assets in East Indies were nationalized as the Dutch colony, the Dutch East Indies. Meanwhile Europe was devastated by the Napoleonic Wars.
  • The Netherlands under Napoleon Bonaparte in 1806, oversaw the Batavian Republic dissolved and replaced by the Kingdom of Holland, a French puppet kingdom ruled by Napoleon’s third brother Louis Bonaparte.
  • Since 1875 the British has consolidated their rule in Bencoolen on western coast of Sumatra, and also has established their rule in Malaccan strait, the island of Singapore and Penang. As the British coveted the Dutch colonies in the region, the French-controlled East Indies was bracing for the incoming British invasion. In 1806, King of the Netherlands sent one of his general, Daendels, serving as governor-general of East Indies based in Java. Daendels was sent to strengthened Javanese defenses against predicted British invasion. Daendels was responsible for the construction of the Great Post Road across northern Java.The thousand-kilometre road was meant as to ease logistic across Java during which thousands of Javanese forced labourers died.
  • In 1811, Java fell to a British East India Company force under Minto, the governor-general of India. Lord Minto appointed Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles as lieutenant governor of Java. Raffles carried further the administrative centralization previously initiated by Daendels. Raffles launched some military expeditions against local princes to subjugate them into British rule. During his administration, numbers of ancient monuments in Java were rediscovered, the most important one is the rediscovery of Borobudur Buddhist temple in Central Java. Raffles was the enthusiast of the island’s history, as he wrote the book History of Java.
  • In 1815, the island of Java was returned to control of the Netherlands following the end of Napoleonic Wars, under the terms of the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1814.

(d) Dutch state rule:


  • After the VOC was dissolved in 1800 following bankruptcy, and after a short British rule under Thomas Stamford Raffles, the Dutch state took over the VOC possessions in 1816.
  • A Javanese uprising was crushed in the Java War of 1825–1830. After 1830 a system of forced cultivations and indentured labour was introduced on Java, the Cultivation System. This system brought the Dutch enormous wealth. The cultivation system tied peasants to their land, forcing them to work in government-owned plantations for 60 days of the year. The system was abolished in a more liberal period after 1870.
  • In 1901 the Dutch adopted what they called the Ethical Policy, which included somewhat increased investment in indigenous education, and modest political reforms.
  • The Dutch colonialists formed a privileged upper social class of soldiers, administrators, managers, teachers and pioneers. They lived together with the “natives”, but at the top of a rigid social and racial caste system.The Dutch East Indies had two legal classes of citizens; European and indigenous. A third class, Foreign Easterners, was added in 1920.
  • Upgrading the infrastructure of ports and roads was a high priority for the Dutch, with the goal of modernizing the economy, pumping wages into local areas, facilitating commerce, and speeding up military movements.
  • For most of the colonial period, Dutch control over its territories in the Indonesian archipelago was tenuous.It was only in the early 20th century, three centuries after the first Dutch trading post, that the full extent of the colonial territory was established and direct colonial rule exerted.
  • Portuguese Timor, now East Timor, remained under Portuguese rule until 1975 when it was invaded by Indonesia. The Indonesian government declared the territory an Indonesian province but relinquished it in 1999,  following the United Nations-sponsored act of self-determination and  East Timor became the first new sovereign state of the 21st century on May 20, 2002.


(e) Indonesian National Awakening:

  • In October 1908, the first nationalist movement was formed, Budi Utomo.On 10 September 1912, the first nationalist mass movement was formed–Sarekat Islam.
  • The Dutch responded after the First World War with repressive measures. The nationalist leaders came from a small group of young professionals and students, some of whom had been educated in the Netherlands.
  • In the post–World War I era, the Indonesian communists who were associated with the Third International started to usurp the nationalist movement.The repression of the nationalist movement led to many arrests, including Indonesia’s first president, Sukarno (1901–70), who was imprisoned for political activities on 29 December 1929. Also arrested was Mohammad Hatta, first Vice-President of Indonesia and Sutan Sjahrir, who later became the first Prime Minister of Indonesia.
  • In 1914 the exiled Dutch socialist Henk Sneevliet founded the Indies Social Democratic Association. Initially a small forum of Dutch socialists, it would later evolve into the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI) in 1924.In the post–World War I era, the Dutch strongly repressed all attempts at change. This repression led to a growth of the PKI.
  • In 1926 thru 1927, there was a PKI-led revolt against the Dutch colonialism and the harsh repression based on strikes of urban workers.However, the strikes and the revolt was put down by the Dutch.
  • Sukarno was released from prison in December 1931.However, Sukarno was re-arrested again on 1 August 1933.

(f) Japanese occupation:

  • The Japanese invasion and subsequent occupation during World War II ended Dutch rule, and encouraged the previously suppressed Indonesian independence movement.
  • In May 1940, early in World War II, the Netherlands was occupied by Nazi Germany. The Dutch East Indies declared a state of siege. Negotiations with the Japanese aimed at securing supplies of aviation fuel collapsed in June 1941, and the Japanese started their conquest of Southeast Asia in December of that year.That same month, factions from Sumatra sought Japanese assistance for a revolt against the Dutch wartime government. The last Dutch forces were defeated by Japan in March 1942.
  • In July 1942, Sukarno accepted Japan’s offer to rally the public in support of the Japanese war effort. However, many who lived in areas considered important to the war effort experienced torture, sex slavery, arbitrary arrest and execution, and other war crimes. Thousands taken away from Indonesia as war labourers suffered or died as a result of ill-treatment and starvation. People of Dutch and mixed Dutch-Indonesian descent were particular targets of the Japanese occupation.
  • In March 1945, Japan organized an Indonesian committee (BPUPKI) on independence. At its first meeting Muhammad Yamin suggested that the new nation should claim British Borneo, British Malaya, Portuguese Timor, and all the pre-war territories of the Dutch East Indies. The committee drafted the 1945 Constitution, which remains in force, though now much amended.
  • Japan intended to announce Indonesian independence on 24 August. After the Japanese surrender however, Sukarno unilaterally proclaimed Indonesian independence on 17 August. A later UN report stated that four million people died in Indonesia as a result of the Japanese occupation.

(g) Indonesian National Revolution:

  • Under pressure from radical and politicised pemuda (‘youth’) groups, Sukarno and Hatta proclaimed Indonesian independence, on 17 August 1945, two days after the Japanese Emperor’s surrender. The following day, the Central Indonesian National Committee (KNIP) declared Sukarno President, and Hatta Vice President. Indonesian war-time military (PETA), youths, and others rallied in support of the new republic.
  • The Netherlands, initially backed by the British, tried to re-establish their rule,and a bitter armed and diplomatic struggle started. Groups of Indonesian nationalists attacked returning Allied troops. There were more European deaths in Indonesia after the war than during the war. After returning to Java, Dutch forces quickly re-occupied the colonial capital of Batavia (now Jakarta), so the city of Yogyakarta in central Java became the capital of the nationalist forces. Negotiations with the nationalists led to two major truce agreements, but disputes about their implementation, and much mutual provocation, led each time to renewed conflict.
  • Within four years the Dutch had recaptured almost the whole of Indonesia, but guerrilla resistance, led on Java by commander Nasution persisted. On 27 December 1949, after four years of sporadic warfare and fierce criticism of the Dutch by the UN, the Netherlands officially recognised Indonesian sovereignty under the federal structure of the United States of Indonesia(RUSI). On 17 August 1950, exactly five years after the proclamation of independence, the last of the federal states were dissolved and Sukarno proclaimed a single unitary Republic of Indonesia.

(2) The Philippines:

(a) Spanish Colonisation:

  • In 1521, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan arrived in the Philippines and claimed the islands for Spain.
  • Colonization began when Spanish explorer Miguel Legazpi arrived from Mexico in 1565 and formed the first Hispanic settlements in Cebu. After relocating to Panay island and consolidating a coalition of native allies and Spanish soldiers, the Spaniards marched upon Islamic Manila.
  • Under Spanish rule, Manila became the capital of the Spanish East Indies (1571), there in they put down the Tondo Conspiracy (Tondo Conspiracy of 1587–1588 was a plot against Spanish colonial rule) and defeated the Chinese-warlord and pirate Limahong.
  • Spanish rule contributed significantly to bringing political unity to the fragmented states of the archipelago. From 1565 to 1821, the Philippines was governed as a territory of the Viceroyalty of New Spain and then was administered directly from Madrid after the Mexican War of Independence.
  • Trade introduced foods such as corn, tomatoes, potatoes, chili peppers, and pineapples from the Americas.Roman Catholic missionaries converted most of the lowland inhabitants to Christianity and founded schools, a university, and hospitals. While a Spanish decree introduced free public schooling in 1863, efforts in mass public education mainly came to fruition during the American period.
  • During its rule, the Spanish fought off various indigenous revolts and several external colonial challenges from Chinese pirates, the Dutch, and the Portuguese. In an extension of the fighting of the Seven Years’ War, British forces occupied Manila from 1762 to 1764. Spanish rule was restored following the 1763 Treaty of Paris.(The Treaty of Paris, also known as the Treaty of 1763, was signed on 10 February 1763 by the kingdoms of Great Britain, France and Spain, with Portugal in agreement, after Britain’s victory over France and Spain during the Seven Years’ War.)
  • In the 19th century, Philippine ports opened to world trade and shifts started occurring within Philippine society. Many Spaniards born in the Philippines (criollos) and those of mixed ancestry (mestizos) became wealthy, and an influx of Latin American settlers opened up government positions traditionally held by Spaniards born in the Iberian Peninsula (peninsulares). The ideals of revolution also began to spread through the islands. Criollo dissatisfaction resulted in the 1872 Cavite Mutiny that was a precursor to the Philippine Revolution(Around 200 soldiers and laborers rose up in the belief that it would elevate to a national uprising. The mutiny was unsuccessful).(Criollo was a social class in the caste system of the overseas colonies established by Spain in the 16th century, comprising the locally born people of confirmed Spanish ancestry.The Criollo class ranked below that of the Iberian Peninsulares)
  • Revolutionary sentiments were stoked in 1872 after three priests collectively known as Gomburza. They were accused of sedition by colonial authorities and executed. This would inspire a propaganda movement in Spain, organized by Pilar, Rizal, and Ponce, lobbying for political reforms in the Philippines. Rizal was eventually executed on December 30, 1896, on charges of rebellion.As attempts at reform met with resistance, Andrés Bonifacio in 1892 established the secret society called the Katipunan, who sought independence from Spain through armed revolt.
  • Bonifacio and the Katipunan started the Philippine Revolution in 1896. A faction of the Katipunan, the Magdalo of Cavite province, eventually came to challenge Bonifacio’s position as the leader of the revolution and Emilio Aguinaldo took over.
  • In 1898, the Spanish–American War began in Cuba and reached the Philippines. Aguinaldo declared Philippine independence from Spain and the First Philippine Republic was established in the Barasoain Church in the following year

(b) American Period:

  • The islands were ceded by Spain to the United States as a result of the latter’s victory in the Spanish-American War. A compensation of 20 million US dollars was paid to Spain according to the terms of the 1898 Treaty of Paris.
  • As it became increasingly clear the United States would not recognize the nascent First Philippine Republic, the Philippine–American War broke out, the First Republic was defeated, and the archipelago was administered under an Insular Government.
  • The Americans then suppressed the sub-states the First Republic had fractured into: mainly, the Sultanate of Sulu, as well as the insurgent Tagalog Republic, the Cantonal Republic of Negros, in the Visayas, and the Republic of Zamboanga, in Mindanao.
  • During this era, a renaissance in Philippine culture occurred, with the expansion of Philippine cinema and literature.Daniel Burnham built an architectural plan for Manila which would have transformed it into a modern city.
  • In 1935, the Philippines was granted Commonwealth status with Manuel Quezon as president. He designated a national language and introduced women’s suffrage and land reform.
  • Plans for independence over the next decade were interrupted by World War II when the Japanese Empire invaded and the Second Philippine Republic of José P. Laurel was established as a collaborator state. Many atrocities and war crimes were committed during the war such as the Bataan Death March and the Manila massacre that culminated during the Battle of Manila (fought between American plus Filipino joined forces and Japanese forces in Manila from 3 February – 3 March 1945).
  • In 1944, Quezon died in exile in the United States and Sergio Osmeña succeeded him. Allied troops defeated the Japanese in 1945.
  • On October 24, 1945,the Philippines became one of the founding members of the United Nations and the following year, on July 4, 1946, it became recognized by the United States as independent,

(3) Burma:


  • The country was colonised by Britain following three Anglo-Burmese Wars (1824–1885).
  • The expansion of Burma had consequences along its frontiers. As those frontiers moved ever closer to British East India Company and later British India, there were problems both with refugees and military operations spilling over ill-defined borders.
  • First Anglo-Burmese War: The First Anglo-Burmese War (1824–1826) ended in a British East India Company victory, and by the Treaty of Yandabo, Burma lost territory previously conquered in Assam, Manipur, and Arakan.The British also took possession of Tenasserim with the intention to use it as a bargaining chip in future negotiations with either Burma or Siam.As the century wore on, the British East India Company began to covet the resources and main part of Burma during an era of great territorial expansion.
  • Second Anglo-Burmese War: In 1852, Commodore Lambert was dispatched to Burma by Lord Dalhousie over a number of minor issues related to the previous treaty.The Burmese immediately made concessions including the removal of a governor whom the British had made responsible for problem. Lambert eventually provoked a naval confrontation in extremely questionable circumstances and thus started the Second Anglo-Burmese War in 1852, which ended in the British annexation of Pegu province, renamed Lower Burma. The war resulted in a palace revolution in Burma, with King Pagan Min (1846–1852) being replaced by his half brother, Mindon Min (1853–1878).
  • Third Anglo-Burmese War: King Mindon tried to modernise the Burmese state and economy to resist British encroachments, and he established a new capital at Mandalay, which he proceeded to fortify.This was not enough to stop the British, however, who claimed that Mindon’s son Thibaw Min (ruled 1878–1885) was a tyrant intending to side with the French,that he had lost control of the country, thus allowing for disorder at the frontiers, and that he was reneging on a treaty signed by his father.The British declared war once again in 1885, conquering the remainder of the country in the Third Anglo-Burmese War resulting in total annexation of Burma
  • With the fall of Mandalay, all of Burma came under British rule, being annexed on 1 January 1886. Throughout the colonial era, many Indians arrived as soldiers, civil servants, construction workers and traders and, along with the Anglo-Burmese community, dominated commercial and civil life in Burma. Rangoon became the capital of British Burma and an important port between Calcutta and Singapore.
  • Burmese resentment was strong and was vented in violent riots that paralysed Yangon (Rangoon) on occasion all the way until the 1930s.Some of the discontent was caused by a disrespect for Burmese culture and traditions such as the British refusal to remove shoes when they entered pagodas. Buddhist monks became the vanguards of the independence movement. U Wisara, an activist monk, died in prison after a 166-day hunger strike to protest a rule that forbade him from wearing his Buddhist robes while imprisoned.
  • On 1 April 1937, Burma became a separately administered colony of Great Britain and Ba Maw the first Prime Minister and Premier of Burma. Ba Maw was an outspoken advocate for Burmese self-rule and he opposed the participation of Great Britain, and by extension Burma, in World War II. He resigned from the Legislative Assembly and was arrested for sedition. In 1940, before Japan formally entered the Second World War, Aung San formed the Burma Independence Army in Japan.
  • A major battleground, Burma was devastated during World War II. By March 1942, within months after they entered the war, Japanese troops had advanced on Rangoon and the British administration had collapsed. A Burmese Executive Administration headed by Ba Maw was established by the Japanese in August 1942.
  • Wingate’s British Chindits (a British India ‘Special Force'”)were formed into long-range penetration groups trained to operate deep behind Japanese lines.A similar American unit, Merrill’s Marauders, followed the Chindits into the Burmese jungle in 1943.Beginning in late 1944, allied troops launched a series of offensives that led to the end of Japanese rule in July 1945. The battles were intense with much of Burma laid waste by the fighting. Overall, the Japanese lost some 150,000 men in Burma.
  • Although many Burmese fought initially for the Japanese as part of the Burma Independence Army, many Burmese, mostly from the ethnic minorities, served in the British Burma Army.The Burma National Army and the Arakan National Army fought with the Japanese from 1942 to 1944 but switched allegiance to the Allied side in 1945.
  • Following World War II, Aung San negotiated the Panglong Agreement with ethnic leaders that guaranteed the independence of Burma as a unified state.The Panglong Agreement was reached in Panglong, Southern Shan State, between the Burmese government under Aung San and the Shan, Kachin, and Chin peoples on 12 February 1947.The agreement accepted “Fullautonomy in internal administration for the Frontier Areas” in principle and envisioned the creation of a Kachin State by the Constituent Assembly. It continued the financial relations established between the Shan states and the Burmese federal government, and envisioned similar arrangements for the Kachin Hills and the Chin Hills.The day is celebrated in Myanmar as Union Day each February 12.
  • In 1947, Aung San became Deputy Chairman of the Executive Council of Burma, a transitional government. But in July 1947, political rivals assassinated Aung San and several cabinet members.
  • On 4 January 1948, the nation became an independent republic, named the Union of Burma, with Sao Shwe Thaik as its first President and U Nu as its first Prime Minister. Unlike most other former British colonies and overseas territories, Burma did not become a member of the Commonwealth.

(4) French Indochina:



  • French Indochina officially known as the Indochinese Federation since 1947, was a federation of colonies belonging to the French colonial empire in southeast Asia.
  • A federation of the three Vietnamese regions, Tonkin (North), Annam (Central), and Cochinchina (South), as well as Cambodia, was formed in 1887. Laos was added in 1893 and Kouang-Tchéou-Wan (Guangzhouwan) in 1900. The capital was moved from Saigon (in Cochinchina) to Hanoi (Tonkin) in 1902 and again to Da Lat (Annam) in 1939 until 1945, when it moved back to Hanoi.
  • After the Fall of France during World War II, the colony was administered by Vichy France and was under Japanese supervision until a brief period of full Japanese control between March and August 1945. Beginning in May 1941, the Viet Minh, a communist army led by Ho Chi Minh, began a revolt against French rule known as the First Indochina War.
  • In Saigon, the anti-Communist State of Vietnam, led by former Emperor Bảo Đại, was granted independence in 1949. Following the Geneva Accord of 1954, the Viet Minh became the government of North Vietnam, although the Bảo Đại government continued to rule in South Vietnam.

(a) Vietnam:

  • France–Vietnam relations started as early as the 17th century with the mission of the Jesuit missionary Alexandre de Rhodes. European involvement in Vietnam was confined to trade during the 18th century .
  • France was heavily involved in Vietnam in the 19th century; protecting the work of the Paris Foreign Missions Society in the country was often presented as a justification. For its part, the Nguyễn Dynasty increasingly saw Catholic missionaries as a political threat.
  • .In 1862, France obtained concessions from Emperor, ceding three treaty ports in Annam and Tonkin, and all of Cochinchina, the latter being formally declared a French territory in 1864.


  • In 1863, the Cambodian king Norodom had requested the establishment of a French protectorate over his country. In 1867, Siam (modern Thailand) renounced suzerainty over Cambodia and officially recognized the 1863 French protectorate on Cambodia, in exchange for the control of Battambang and Siem Reap provinces which officially became part of Thailand. (These provinces would be ceded back to Cambodia by a border treaty between France and Siam in 1906).

Establishment of French Indochina:

  • Vietnam’s independence was gradually eroded by France – aided by large Catholic militias – in a series of military conquests between 1859 and 1885. In 1862, the southern third of the country became the French colony of Cochinchina. By 1884, the entire country had come under French rule and was formally integrated into the union of French Indochina in 1887.
  • France obtained control over northern Vietnam following its victory over China in the Sino-French War (1884–85). French Indochina was formed in October 1887 from Annam, Tonkin, Cochinchina (which together form modern Vietnam) and the Kingdom of Cambodia; Laos was added after the Franco-Siamese War in 1893.The federation lasted until 1954.
  • In the four protectorates, the French formally left the local rulers in power, who were the Emperors of Vietnam, Kings of Cambodia, and Kings of Luang Prabang, but in fact gathered all powers in their hands, the local rulers acting only as figureheads.
  • The French administration imposed significant political and cultural changes on Vietnamese society. A Western-style system of modern education was developed, and Roman Catholicism was propagated widely. Most French settlers in Indochina were concentrated in Cochinchina
  • The royalist Cần Vương movement rebelled against French rule and was defeated in the 1890s after a decade of resistance. Guerrillas of the Cần Vương movement murdered around a third of Vietnam’s Christian population during this period.
  • Developing a plantation economy to promote the export of tobacco, indigo, tea and coffee, the French largely ignored increasing calls for Vietnamese self-government and civil rights. A nationalist political movement soon emerged, with leaders such as Phan Bội Châu, Phan Chu Trinh, Emperor Hàm Nghi and Ho Chi Minh fighting or calling for independence.
  • However, the 1930 Yên Bái mutiny of the Vietnamese Nationalist Party or the Vietnamese Kuomintang, was suppressed easily.
  • The French maintained full control of their colonies until World War II, when the war in the Pacific led to the Japanese invasion of French Indochina in 1941. Afterwards, the Japanese Empire was allowed to station its troops in Vietnam while permitting the pro-Vichy French colonial administration to continue. Japan exploited Vietnam’s natural resources to support its military campaigns, culminating in a full-scale takeover of the country in March 1945 and the Vietnamese Famine of 1945, which caused up to two million deaths.

1946–54: First Indochina War:

  • In 1941, the Viet Minh – a communist and nationalist liberation movement – emerged under the Marxist–Leninist revolutionary and French educated Ho Chi Minh, who sought independence for Vietnam from France and the end of the Japanese occupation. Following the military defeat of Japan and the fall of its puppet Empire of Vietnam in August 1945, the Viet Minh occupied Hanoi and proclaimed a provisional government, which asserted national independence on 2 September.
  • After the war, France petitioned for the nullification of the 1938 Franco-Siamese Treaty and attempted to reassert itself in the region, but came into conflict with the Viet Minh, a coalition of Communist and Vietnamese nationalists under French-educated dissident Ho Chi Minh.
  • In 1945, the Provisional Government of the French Republic sent the French Far East Expeditionary Corps to restore colonial rule, and the Viet Minh began a guerrilla campaign against the French in late 1946.The resulting First Indochina War lasted until July 1954.
  • The defeat of French and Vietnamese loyalists in the 1954 Battle of Dien Bien Phu allowed Ho Chi Minh to negotiate a ceasefire from a favorable position at the subsequent Geneva Conference. The colonial administration was ended and French Indochina was dissolved under the Geneva Accords of 1954, which separated the loyalist forces from the communists at the 17th parallel north with the Vietnamese Demilitarized Zone.Two states formed after the partition – Ho Chi Minh’s Democratic Republic of Vietnam in the north and Emperor Bảo Đại’s State of Vietnam in the south. A 300-day period of free movement was permitted, during which almost a million northerners, mainly Catholics, moved south, fearing persecution by the communists.
  • Geneva Accords of 1954: On 27 April 1954, the Geneva Conference produced the Geneva Agreements between North Vietnam and France. Provisions included supporting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Indochina, granting it independence from France, declaring the cessation of hostilities and foreign involvement in internal Indochina affairs, delineating northern and southern zones into which opposing troops were to withdraw, they mandated unification on the basis of internationally supervised free elections to be held in July 1956.It was at this conference that France relinquished any claim to territory in the Indochinese peninsula. The United States and South Vietnam rejected the Geneva Accords and never signed. South Vietnamese leader Diem rejected the idea of nationwide election as proposed in the agreement, saying that a free election was impossible in the communist North and that his government was not bound by the Geneva Accords. France did withdraw, turning the north over to the Communists while the Bảo Đại regime, with American support, kept control of the South.
  • The events of 1954 marked the beginnings of serious United States involvement in Vietnam and the ensuing Vietnam War. Laos and Cambodia also became independent in 1954, but were both drawn into the Vietnam War.
  • As the Vietnam War progressed, Cambodia adopted an official policy of neutrality in the Cold War, although Cambodia was widely considered to be sympathetic to the communist cause. Sihanouk allowed the Vietnamese communists to use Cambodia as a sanctuary and a supply route for their arms and other aid to their armed forces fighting in South Vietnam.
  • Laos: In 1955, the US Department of Defense created a special Programs Evaluation Office to replace French support of the Royal Lao Army against the communist Pathet Lao as part of the US containment policy. In 1960, amidst a series of rebellions in the Kingdom of Laos, fighting broke out between the Royal Lao Army and the communist North Vietnam-backed, and Soviet Union-backed Pathet Lao guerillas. A Provisional Government of National Unity formed  in 1962 proved to be unsuccessful, and the situation steadily deteriorated into large scale civil war between the Royal Laotian government and the Pathet Lao. The North Vietnamese invasion of Laos, by the Moscow-backed Vietnam People’s Army, and post-Vietnam War occupation of Laos, continued in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

1954–1975: Vietnam War:

  • The partition of Vietnam was not intended to be permanent by the Geneva Accords, which stipulated that Vietnam would be reunited after elections in 1956.However, in 1955, the State of Vietnam’s Prime Minister, Ngô Đình Diệm, toppled Bảo Đại in a fraudulent referendum organised by his brother Ngô Đình Nhu, and proclaimed himself president of the Republic of Vietnam.
  • The pro-Hanoi Viet Cong began a guerrilla campaign in the late 1950s to overthrow Diệm’s government.
  • In the North, the communist government launched a land reform program,and executed many in campaigns against wealthy farmers and landowners, amid broader purges.In 1960 and 1962, the Soviet Union and North Vietnam signed treaties providing for further Soviet military support. In the South, Diệm went about crushing political and religious opposition, imprisoning or executing tens of thousands.
  • In 1963, Buddhist discontent with Diệm’s regime erupted into mass demonstrations, leading to a violent government crackdown.This led to the collapse of Diệm’s relationship with the United States, and ultimately to the 1963 coup in which Diệm and Nhu were assassinated.
  • The Diệm era was followed by more than a dozen successive military governments, before the General Nguyễn Văn Thiệu took control in mid-1965. Under this political instability, the communists began to gain ground.
  • To support South Vietnam’s struggle against the communist insurgency, the United States began increasing its contribution of military advisers, using the 1964 Tonkin Gulf incident as a pretext for such intervention. US forces became involved in ground combat operations in 1965, and at their peak they numbered more than 500,000.The US also engaged in a sustained aerial bombing campaign. Meanwhile, China and the Soviet Union provided North Vietnam with significant material aid and 15,000 combat advisers. Communist forces supplying the Viet Cong carried supplies along the Ho Chi Minh trail, which passed through Laos.
  • The communists attacked South Vietnamese targets during the 1968 Tet Offensive. Although the campaign failed militarily, it shocked the American establishment, and turned US public opinion against the war.Facing an increasing casualty count, rising domestic opposition to the war, and growing international condemnation, the US began withdrawing from ground combat roles in the early 1970s. This process also entailed an unsuccessful effort to strengthen and stabilize South Vietnam.
  • Following the Paris Peace Accords of 27 January 1973, all American combat troops were withdrawn by 29 March 1973. In December 1974, North Vietnam captured the province of Phước Long and started a full-scale offensive, culminating in the Fall of Saigon (Later called Ho Chi Minh City) on 30 April 1975.
  • On 2 July 1976, North and South Vietnam were merged to form the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.The war left Vietnam devastated, with the total death toll standing at between 800,000 and 3.1 million

(5) Malaysia:


  • In 1511, Malacca was conquered by Portugal, after which it was taken by the Dutch in 1641.
  • In 1786, the British Empire established a presence in Malaya, when the Sultan of Kedah leased Penang to the British East India Company. The British obtained the town of Singapore in 1819, and in 1824 took control of Malacca following the Anglo-Dutch Treaty.
  • By 1826, the British directly controlled Penang, Malacca, Singapore, and the island of Labuan, which they established as the crown colony of the Straits Settlements.
  • By the 20th century, the states of Pahang, Selangor, Perak, and Negeri Sembilan, known together as the Federated Malay States, had British Residents appointed to advise the Malay rulers, to whom the rulers were bound to defer by treaty.
  • The remaining five states in the peninsula, known as the Unfederated Malay States, while not directly under British rule, also accepted British advisers around the turn of the 20th century.
  • Development on the Peninsula and Borneo were generally separate until the 19th century. Under British rule the immigration of Chinese and Indians to serve as labourers was encouraged.The area that is now Sabah came under British control as North Borneo when both the Sultan of Brunei and the Sultan of Sulu transferred their respective territorial rights of ownership, between 1877 and 1878.
  • In 1842, Sarawak was ceded by the Sultan of Brunei to James Brooke, whose successors ruled as the White Rajahs over an independent kingdom until 1946, when it became a Crown colony.
  • In the Second World War, the Japanese army invaded and occupied Malaya, North Borneo, Sarawak, and Singapore for over three years. During this time, ethnic tensions were raised and nationalism grew.Popular support for independence increased after Malaya was reconquered by Allied Forces.
  • Post-war British plans to unite the administration of Malaya under a single crown colony called the Malayan Union met with strong opposition from the Malays, who opposed the weakening of the Malay rulers and the granting of citizenship to the ethnic Chinese. The Malayan Union, established in 1946 and consisting of all the British possessions in the Malay Peninsula with the exception of Singapore, was quickly dissolved and replaced by the Federation of Malaya, which restored the autonomy of the rulers of the Malay states under British protection.
  • During this time, mostly Chinese rebels under the leadership of the Malayan Communist Party launched guerrilla operations designed to force the British out of Malaya. The Malayan Emergency lasted from 1948 to 1960, and involved a long anti-insurgency campaign by Commonwealth troops in Malaya.
  • During the Cold War, countering the threat of communism was a major theme in the decolonization process. After suppressing the communist insurrection during the Malayan Emergency from 1948 to 1960, Britain granted independence to Malaya and later,Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak in 1957 and 1963 respectively within the framework of the Federation of Malaysia.
  • Af plan was put in place to federate Malaya with the crown colonies of North Borneo (which joined as Sabah), Sarawak, and Singapore. The proposed date of federation was 31 August 1963; however, the date was delayed until 16 September 1963 due to opposition from Indonesia’s Sukarno and the Sarawak United Peoples’ Party.
  • Singapore became part of Malaysia on 16 September 1963, Malaysia being a new political entity formed from the merger of the Federation of Malaya with North Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore. This marked the end of a 144-year period of British rule in Singapore, beginning with the founding of modern Singapore by Sir Stamford Raffles in 1819.
  • The union, however, was unstable due to distrust and ideological differences between leaders of the State of Singapore and the Federal Government of Malaysia. Such issues resulted in frequent disagreements relating to economics, finance and politics.
  • Federation brought heightened tensions including a conflict with Indonesia, Singapore’s eventual exit in 1965,and racial strife.

(6) Ceylon (Srilanka):

(a) Portuguese era:

  • The first Europeans to visit Sri Lanka in modern times were the Portuguese: Francisco de Almeida arrived in 1505, finding the island divided into seven warring kingdoms and unable to fend off intruders. The Portuguese founded a fort at the port city of Colombo in 1517 and gradually extended their control over the coastal areas.
  • In 1592 the Sinhalese moved their capital to the inland city of Kandy, a location more secure against attack from invaders. Intermittent warfare continued through the 16th century.
  • Many lowland Sri Lankans were forced to convert to Christianity while the coastal Moors were religiously persecuted and forced to retreat to the Central highlands.
  • The Buddhist majority disliked Portuguese occupation and its influences and welcomed any power who might rescue them and defeat the Portuguese. In 1602, therefore, when the Dutch captain Joris van Spilbergen landed, the king of Kandy appealed to him for help.

(b) Dutch era:

  • It was in 1638 that the Dutch attacked in earnest but ended with an agreement (which was disrespected by both parties), and not until 1656 that Colombo fell.
  • By 1660 the Dutch controlled the whole island except the kingdom of Kandy. The Dutch (who were Protestants) persecuted the Catholics (the left-over Portuguese settlers) but left the Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims alone.
  • However, they taxed the people far more heavily than the Portuguese had done. A mixed Dutch-Sri Lankan people known as Burgher peoples are the legacy of Dutch rule.
  • In 1659, the British sea captain Robert Knox landed by chance on Sri Lanka and was captured by the king of Kandy. He escaped 19 years later and wrote an account of his stay. This helped to bring the island to the attention of the British.

(c) British era:

  • During the Napoleonic Wars, Great Britain, fearing that French control of the Netherlands might deliver Sri Lanka to the French, occupied the coastal areas of the island (which they called Ceylon) with little difficulty in 1796.
  • In 1802 by the Treaty of Amiens the Dutch part of the island was ceded to Britain, and became a crown colony.
  • In 1803 the British invaded the Kingdom of Kandy in the 1st Kandyan War, but were bloodily repulsed. In 1815 Kandy was occupied in the 2nd Kandyan War, finally ending Sri Lankan independence.
  • Following the bloody suppression of the Uva Rebellion, (Great Rebellion of 1817–1818  was the third Kandyan War with the British.The Sinhalese were greatly affected by the administrative policies of the British and were not used to being ruled by a king who lived far away in another continent. This created unrest among the local people and the aristocratic Chiefs in the Kandyan Kingdom.) , the Kandyan peasantry were stripped of their lands by the Wastelands Ordinance.
  • The British found that the uplands of Sri Lanka were very suited to coffee, tea and rubber cultivation, and by the mid 19th century Ceylon tea had become a staple of the British market, bringing great wealth to a small class of white tea planters. To work the estates, the planters imported large numbers of Tamil workers as indentured labourers from south India, who soon made up 10% of the island’s population. These workers had to work in slave-like conditions and to live in line rooms, not very different from cattle sheds.
  • The British colonialists favoured the semi-European Burghers, certain high-caste Sinhalese and the Tamils who were mainly concentrated to the north of the country, exacerbating divisions and enmities which have survived ever since.
  • Nevertheless, the British also introduced democratic elements to Sri Lanka for the first time in its history. The Burghers were given some degree of self-government as early as 1833. It was not until 1909 that constitutional development began with a partly elected assembly, and not until 1920 that elected members outnumbered official appointees. Universal suffrage was introduced in 1931, over the protests of the Sinhalese, Tamil and Burgher elite who objected to the common people being allowed to vote.

(d) Independence movement:

  • The Ceylon National Congress (CNC) was founded to agitate for greater autonomy. The party soon split along ethnic and caste lines. The refusal of the Ceylon Tamils to accept minority status to be one of the main causes which broke up the CNC.
  • The CNC did not seek independence or “Swaraj”. What may be called the independence movement broke into two streams, viz., the “constitutionalists”, who sought independence by gradual modification of the status of Ceylon, and the more radical groups associated with the Colombo Youth League, Labour movement of Goonasinghe, and the Jaffna Youth Congress. These organizations were the first to raise the cry of Swaraj, or outright independence, following the Indian example, when Jawaharlal Nehru, Sarojini Naidu and other Indian leaders visited Ceylon in 1926.
  • The efforts of the constitutionalists led to the arrival of the Donoughmore Commission reforms (1931) and the Soulbury Commission recommendations.
  • The Marxist Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP), which grew out of the Youth Leagues in 1935, made the demand for outright independence a cornerstone of their policy  They were aided in this struggle by other less radical members like Colvin R. De Silva, Leslie Goonewardena, Don Alwin Rajapaksa. They also demanded the replacement of English as the official language by Sinhala and Tamil. The Marxist groups were a tiny minority and yet their movement was viewed with grave suspicion by the British administration. The heroic (but ineffctive) attempts to rouse the public against the British Raj in revolt would have led to certain bloodshed and a delay in independence.Marxist movement had a very negative impact on the policy makers at the Colonial office.
  • The Soulbury Commission was the most important result of the agitation for constitutional reform in the 1930s. The Tamil leadership had by then fallen into the hands of G. G. Ponnambalam who had rejected the “Ceylonese identity”.Ponnamblam had declared himself a “proud Dravidian”, and attempted to establish an independent identity for the Tamils. Ponnamblam was a politician who attacked the Sinhalese, and their historical chronicle known as the Mahavamsa. It led to the first Sinhala-Tamil riot in 1939. Ponnambalam opposed universal franchise, supported the caste system, and claimed that the protection of Tamil rights requires the Tamils (15% of the population in 1931) having an equal number of seats in parliament to that of the Sinhalese (about 72% of the population). This “50-50” or “balanced representation” policy became the hall mark of Tamil politics of the time. Ponnambalam also accused the British of having established colonization in “traditional Tamil areas”, and having favoured the Buddhists by the buddhist temporalities act.
  • The Soulbury Commission rejected these submissions by Ponnambalam, and even noted their unacceptable communal character.
  • Meanwhile, Senanayake, Baron Jayatilleke, Oliver Gunatilleke and others lobbied the Soulbury Commission without confronting them officially. The unofficial submissions contained what was to later become the draft constitution of 1944.
  • The close collaboration of the D. S. Senanayake government with the war-time British administration led to the support of Lord Louis Mountbatten. His dispatches and a telegram to the Colonial office supporting Independence for Ceylon which helped the Senanayake government to secure the independence of Sri Lanka.

Second World War:

  • During World War II, Sri Lanka was a front-line British base against the Japanese. Opposition to the war in Sri Lanka was orchestrated by Marxist organizations.
  •  Japanese Navy bombed Colombo, which led to the flight of Indian merchants, dominant in the Colombo commercial sector. This flight removed a major political problem faceing the Senanayake government.Marxist leaders also escaped, to India.
  • Senanayake government took advantage of the war to further its rapport with the commanding elite. Ceylon became crucial to the British Empire in the war, with Lord Louis Mountbatten using Colombo as his headquarters for the Eastern Theater.
  • Sinhalese continued to agitate for independence and Sinhalese sovereignty, using the opportunities offered by the war to establish a special relationship with Britain.
  • Sri Lankans in Singapore and Malaysia formed the ‘Lanka Regiment’ of the Indian National Army.
  • The constitutionalists, led by D. S. Senanayake, succeeded in winning independence. The Soulbury constitution was essentially what Senanayake’s board of ministers had drafted in 1944. The promise of Dominion status, and independence itself, had been given by the Colonial office.
  • Post-war
  • The Sinhalese leader Don Stephen Senanayake left the CNC on the issue of independence, disagreeing with the revised aim of ‘the achieving of freedom’. He subsequently formed the United National Party (UNP) in 1946, when a new constitution was agreed .
  • At the elections of 1947, the UNP won a minority of the seats in Parliament, but cobbled together a coalition with the Sinhala Maha Sabha of Solomon Bandaranaike and the Tamil Congress of G.G. Ponnambalam. The successful inclusions of the Tamil-communalist leader Ponnambalam, and his Sinhala counterpart Bandaranaike were a remarkable political balancing act by Senanayake. However, the vacuum in Tamil Nationalist politics created by Ponnamblam’s transition to a moderate opened the field for the Tamil Arasu Kachchi, a Tamil sovereignist party.
  • The Soulbury constitution ushered in Dominion status, with independence proclaimed on 4 February 1948.  D. S. Senanayake became the first Prime Minister of Ceylon.

(7) Brunei:



  • Spanish were first European to reach Brunei in 16th century.
  • The British have intervened in the affairs of Brunei on several occasions. Britain attacked Brunei in July 1846 due to internal conflicts over who was the rightful Sultan.
  • British residents were introduced in Brunei under the Supplementary Protectorate Agreement in 1906. The residents were to advise the sultan on all matters of administration. Over time, the resident assumed more executive control than the sultan. The residential system ended in 1959.Petroleum was discovered in 1929 after several fruitless attempts.
  • During second world war, the Japanese invaded Brunei on 16 December 1941, eight days after their attack on Pearl Harbor. During the occupation, the Japanese had their language taught in schools, and Government officers were required to learn Japanese. The local currency was replaced.
  • After World War II, a new government was formed in Brunei under the British Military Administration (BMA). It consisted mainly of Australian officers and servicemen.
  • Before 1941, the Governor of the Straits Settlements, based in Singapore, was responsible for the duties of British High Commissioner for Brunei, Sarawak, and North Borneo(now Sabah).The first British High Commissioner for Brunei was the Governor of Sarawak, Sir Charles Ardon Clarke.
  • In 1959, a new constitution was written declaring Brunei a self-governing state, while its foreign affairs, security, and defence remained the responsibility of the United Kingdom.A small rebellion erupted against the monarchy in 1962, which was suppressed with help of the UK. Known as the Brunei Revolt, it contributed to the failure to create the North Borneo Federation. The rebellion partially affected Brunei’s decision to opt out of the Malaysian Federation.
  • Brunei gained its independence from the United Kingdom on 1 January 1984.

(8) Hong Kong:

  • In 1839, the refusal of Qing-dynasty authorities to support opium imports caused the outbreak of the First Opium War between Britain and China. China’s defeat resulted in the occupation of Hong Kong Island by British forces on 20 January 1841. It was initially ceded under the Convention of Chuenpee. This agreement, however was never ratified due to a dispute between high-ranking officials of both countries.
  • On 29 August 1842, Hong Kong Island was formally ceded in perpetuity to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland under the Treaty of Nanking. The British officially established a Crown colony and founded the City of Victoria in the following year.
  • Addition of Kowloon(1860):  Following further conflicts over opium trade between Britain and China, several murders quickly escalated into a full-scale war, the Second Opium War. The Anglo-French victory expanded the Crown Colony to the Kowloon Peninsula (south of Boundary Street) and Stonecutter’s Island. Both areas were ceded to the British in perpetuity under the Convention of Beijing.
  • Free port of Victoria City: The establishment of free port turned Hong Kong into a major entrepôt, attracting new immigrants to settle from China and Europe alike. The society, however, remained racially segregated and polarised under the British colonial policies. Despite the rise of a British-educated Chinese upper-class by the late-19th century, race laws prevented ethnic Chinese in Hong Kong from acquiring houses in reserved areas.
  • At this time, the majority of the Chinese population in Hong Kong had no political representation in the British colonial government. There were, however, a small number of Chinese elites whom the British governors relied on. They served as communicators and mediators between the government and local population.
  • New Territories: 99 years of lease: In 1898, Britain obtained a 99-year lease from China from the Convention for the Extension of Hong Kong Territory, in which Hong Kong obtained a 99-year lease.

Post Second World War:

  • Hong Kong’s population recovered quickly after the war, as a wave of skilled migrants from China flooded into Hong Kong for refuge from the Chinese Civil War (1945-49). When the Communists gained control of mainland China in 1949, even more skilled migrants fled to Hong Kong across the open border for fear of persecution.Many newcomers, especially those who had been based in major port cities of Shanghai andCanton, established corporations and small- to medium-sized businesses and shifted their base operations to British Hong Kong
  • Towards the early 1990s, Hong Kong has established itself as a global financial centre along with London and New York, a regional hub for logistics and freight, one of the Four Asian Tigers (fastest-growing economies in Asia) and the world’s exemplar of Laissez-faire market policy. The nightview of Hong Kong’s skyline along the Victoria Harbour has earned the city its nickname Pearl of the East of the British Queen.

Transfer of sovereignty: 

  • Hong Kong’s territory was acquired from three separate treaties: the Treaty of Nanking in 1842, the Treaty of Beijing in 1860, and The Convention for the Extension of Hong Kong Territory in 1898, which gave the UK the control of Hong Kong Island, Kowloon (area south of Boundary Street), and the New Territories (area north of Boundary Street and south of the Shenzhen River, and outlying islands), respectively. Although Hong Kong Island and Kowloon had been ceded to the United Kingdom in perpetuity, the control on the New Territories was a 99-year lease.On 1 July 1997, the transfer of sovereignty of Hong Kong from the United Kingdom to the People’s Republic of China took place; this significant event officially marked the end of Hong Kong’s 156 years under British colonial governance. As the last Crown Colony of the United Kingdom, loss of Hong Kong also represented the end of the British Empire.


  • In March 1979, the Governor of Hong Kong Murray MacLehose paid his first official visit to the People’s Republic of China (PRC), taking the initiative to raise the question of Hong Kong’s sovereignty with Deng Xiaoping. In March 1979, the Governor of Hong Kong Murray MacLehose paid his first official visit to the People’s Republic of China (PRC), taking the initiative to raise the question of Hong Kong’s sovereignty with Deng Xiaoping.
  • In light of the increasing openness of the PRC government and economic reforms on the mainland, then-British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher sought the PRC’s agreement to a continued British presence in the territory.
  •  However, the PRC took a contrary position: not only did the PRC wish for the New Territories, on lease until 1997, to be placed under the PRC’s jurisdiction, it also refused to recognize the “unfair and unequal treaties” under which Hong Kong Island and Kowloon had been ceded to Britain in perpetuity.
  • Sino-British Joint Declaration(1985): In the Joint Declaration, the People’s Republic of China Government stated that it had decided to resume the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong (including Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, and the New Territories) with effect from 1 July 1997 and the United Kingdom Government declared that it would restore Hong Kong to the PRC with effect from 1 July 1997. In the document, the People’s Republic of China Government also declared its basic policies regarding Hong Kong. In accordance with the One Country, Two Systems principle agreed between the United Kingdom and the People’s Republic of China, the socialist system of People’s Republic of China would not be practiced in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), and Hong Kong’s previous capitalist system and its way of life would remain unchanged for a period of 50 years. The Joint Declaration provides that these basic policies shall be stipulated in the Hong Kong Basic Law.Hence Hongkong became  China’s first Special Administrative Region.

(9) Macau:


  • Macau did not develop as a major settlement until the Portuguese arrived in the 16th century. In 1513, Jorge Álvares became the first Portuguese to land in China. In 1535, Portuguese traders obtained the rights to anchor ships in Macau’s harbours and to carry out trading activities, though not the right to stay onshore.Around 1552–1553, they obtained temporary permission to erect storage sheds onshore, in order to dry out goods drenched by sea water; In 1557, the Portuguese established a permanent settlement in Macau, paying an annual rent.The Portuguese continued to pay an annual tribute up to 1863 in order to stay in Macau.
  • By 1564, Portugal commanded western trade with India, Japan, and China. But their pride was shocked by the indifference with which the Chinese treated them. In 1631 the Chinese restricted Portuguese commerce in China to the port of Macau.
  • As more Portuguese settled in Macau to engage in trade, they made demands for self-administration; but this was not achieved until the 1840s.
  • In 1576, Pope Gregory XIII established the Roman Catholic Diocese of Macau.In 1583, the Portuguese in Macau were permitted to form a Senate to handle various issues concerning their social and economic affairs under strict supervision of the Chinese authority,but there was no transfer of sovereignty.
  • Macau prospered as a port but it was the target of repeated failed attempts by the Dutch to conquer it in the 17th century. On June 24, 1622, the Dutch attacked Macau in the Battle of Macau. The Portuguese repulsed their attack and the Dutch never tried to conquer Macau again. The majority of the defenders were African slaves, with only a few Portuguese soldiers and priests.
  • Following the Opium War (1839–42), Portugal occupied Taipa and Coloane in 1851 and 1864 respectively. On 1 December 1887, the Qing and Portuguese governments signed the Sino-Portuguese Treaty of Amity and Commerce, under which China ceded the right of “perpetual occupation and government of Macau by Portugal”. In return, Macau Government would cooperate with Hong Kong’s smuggle of Indian opium and China would be able to increase profits through customs taxes. Portugal was also obliged “never to alienate Macau without previous agreement with China”, therefore ensuring that negotiation between Portugal and France (regarding a possible exchange of Macau and Portuguese Guinea with the French Congo) or with other countries would not go forward – so that the British commercial interests would be secured; Macau officially became a territory under Portuguese administration.
  • In 1928, after the Qing dynasty had been overthrown following the Xinhai Revolution, the Kuomintang (KMT) government officially notified Portugal that it was abrogating the Treaty of Amity and Commerce; the two powers signed a new Sino-Portuguese Friendship and Trade Treaty in place of the abrogated treaty. Making only a few provisions concerning tariff principles and matters relating to business affairs, the new treaty did not alter the sovereignty of Macau and Portuguese government of Macau remained unchanged.
  • During the Second World War, unlike Portuguese Timor which was occupied by the Japanese in 1942 along with Dutch Timor, the Japanese respected Portuguese neutrality in Macau, but only up to a point. As such, Macau enjoyed a brief period of economic prosperity as the only neutral port in South China, after the Japanese had occupied Guangzhou (Canton) and Hong Kong. In August 1943. Soon, Japanese demanded the installation of Japanese “advisers” under the alternative of military occupation. The result was that a virtual Japanese protectorate was created over Macau.
  • Between the end of the Pacific War and the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, Macau served as a safe haven for refugees of the civil war in mainland China.
  • After the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, the Beijing government declared the Sino-Portuguese Treaty of Amity and Commerce invalid as an “unequal treaty” imposed by foreigners on China. However, Beijing was not ready to settle the treaty question, leaving the maintenance of “the status quo” until a more appropriate time.
  • Influenced by the Cultural Revolution in mainland China and by general dissatisfaction with Portuguese government, riots broke out in Macau in 1966. In the most serious, the so-called 12-3 incident, 6 people were killed and more than 200 people were injured.
  • Shortly after the overthrow of the Portuguese dictatorship in 1974 in Lisbon, the new Portuguese government determined it would relinquish all its overseas possessions. In 1976, Lisbon redefined Macau as a “Chinese territory under Portuguese administration” and granted it a large measure of administrative, financial, and economic autonomy.The Chinese and Portuguese governments commenced negotiations on the question of Macau in June 1986. The two signed a Sino-Portuguese Joint Declaration the next year, making Macau a special administrative region (SAR) of China.
  • The Chinese government assumed formal sovereignty over Macau on 20 December 1999.The economy since then has continued to prosper with the sustained growth of tourism from mainland China and the construction of new casinos.

(10) Thiland (Siam):

Why was Thailand never colonized?

  • Thailand succeeded to remain Independent partly due to fact that it served  as buffer between French Indochina and British empire and partly due to reforms and modernization carried by Rama IV and Rama V.During Rama II’s reign western influences  began to be felt in Siam.At same time Siam took many reform Railways and telegraph lines united the previously remote and semi-autonomous provinces. The currency was tied to the gold standard and a modern system of taxation replaced the arbitrary exactions and labour service of the past. In 1785 the British occupied Penang, and in 1819 they founded Singapore making them  main western economic and political influence in Siam. To negotiate with British Siam signed Burney Treaty agreeing  to establish a uniform taxation system, to reduce taxes on foreign trade and to abolish some of the royal monopolies. It increased in trade, thus kingdom became wealthier and army better equipped. In 1859 French occupied Saigon and started influencing Vietnam and Cambodia. Rama IV soon realized that French were more interested in territorial expansion so he gave British economic concessions they demanded in hoping to get British support.
  • In the 19th. Siam (name not changed to Thailand until 1939) was the largest and strongest power in the region with its sphere of influence nearly double what it is today.
  • European expansion began roughly in the mid century, with Britain consolidating its hold on the various independent kingdoms now known as India, and moving into the area that is now known as Myanmar. (That country was composed of many different ethnic states. The first ethnic group that the British encountered (and conquered) were the Burmese, so the British named the entire territory after that one ethnic group.
  • The French were coming in from the east. They had solidified their hold on what we now call Vietnam and were moving westwards from there. Siam was caught in the middle between these two great powers.
  • when they approached Siam, they had different strategies. England believed in the concept of “buffer states” where a neutral territory was created or maintained in order that the two warring countries were not directly in contact with each other. France was less concerned about this.
  • France conquered Saigon in 1859. They then turned their eyes to areas that owed allegiance to Siam, specifically what we now call Cambodia, Laos, and the Malay Peninsula. In 1867 France sailed up the Mekong to Phnom Penh whose king protested to Siam’s ruler Rama 4, who then protested to Paris to no avail. Rama 4 then turned to the British for support, who refused to help.At this time, Britain was Siam’s strongest ally.
  • By 1890 the French were determined to take over all of Siam. They decided to start with the lands east of the Mekong and west of Vietnam. Eventually their plan was to take over the Lao speaking areas of the Northeast (Isaan today), weakening Siam with the aim of eventually taking over the entire country. In 1893 France pushed into the jungles of what we know as Laos, and since the Siamese figured out what France was up to, they attacked. France countered attacked the Siamese troops and demanded that Siam give to France all their lands east of the Mekong.
  • Rama 5, having taken over the country on the death of his father, again appealed to the British for help which was again refused. In fact, Britain was happy with the French grabbing control of Siamese territory due to a new concept known as “The Doctrine of Compensatory Advantage.” Simply put, France would be allowed to take eastern Siam in return for not protesting when the British took over the rest of the Burmese territories.
  • With France in Laos and Cambodia, and the British in Burma, the British had achieved a regional alignment they were happy with, with Siam forming a buffer state. The British thus told Rama 5 to give in to French demands, but the King refused. This was a difficult thing to do in the face of a much mightier force.
  • The French, to force the issue, sent their gunboats to Paknam at the entrance to the Chao Praya River and Bangkok. The British sent a note to the King saying that his refusal to give in would result in the “complete extinction of the Siamese national existence.”
  • Faced with the refusal of Britain to support it, Rama 5 eventually conceded and was forced to give up more territory to the French.
  • Now the stage was set for the French to take over all of Siam. In 1896 the British and the French foreign ministers met in Paris with the French aiming to take over what was called the Korat Plateau (now called Isaan). In formal talks, the French proposed to divide Siam into two parts. They proposed that the Chao Praya River be the dividing line, and that the French hold all of Siam to the east, and that Britain take all of Siam to the west including all of the peninsular lands down to what is now Malaysia. This would connect the British held territory of Burma to their Straits Settlements (Malaysia and Singapore). If the British had agreed, all of Isaan and Pattaya would be French and Phuket would be British.
  • Britain rejected this, wanting to continue with the buffer state so France countered with a second proposal. This new idea was close to the first, with the one distinction being that the Chao Praya River Valley would remain independent.
  • Since the Siamese weren’t invited to these meetings, the Siamese Ambassador to Europe pulled off a back door lobbying effort, negotiating with the British directly, telling them that the entire country of Siam should be used as a buffer zone. The British finally agreed to this. Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India, wrote about the French “we particularly desire to avoid them as neighbors.”
  • So in 1896 the two countries signed a treaty saying they would support the independence of Siam against any third party (Russia, and especially Germany, were both nosing around Siam, seeing what parts they could pick off.)
  • This was a major diplomatic triumph for Siam, which managed to keep its independence although France was determined to take it over. Although Siam had to give up some territory that it had previously held sway over, it managed to retain its freedom, a majority of its land, and al of the land inhabited by Thai language speaking people. (The lands it conceded were mostly Khmer, Malay or Lao).
  • Of course, the two signatories couldn’t keep their hands to themselves, and so in 1907 France picked off a bit more territory to add to Cambodia (specifically Battambang and Siem Riep), and the British two years later grabbed a bit more land for Malaysia and created the boundary of what is today the border line between Thailand and Malaysia.


1) Thailand: buffer between French Indochina and British empire
2) Nepal: buffer between Qing empire and British India.
3) Mongolia: buffer between Soviet Union and China

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