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Cold War and Colonialism

The Cold War was the tense time between the democratic West and the communist East. It developed after World War II when the Soviet Union and the West moved from being allies to being political and economic combatants. The Cold War became a silent active war waged between espionage and political plays in pulling more countries to the sides of democracy and communism. This war put many Asian countries in the middle of the conflict with each side giving the nations everything they could to show how their side was the better one to align with. The results were several bloody conflicts that tore at the heart of many Asian cultures, including Korea. The superpowers of the world used Asia as a playground to gain more power. (1)

Colonialism was the invasion of European culture in various parts of the world where those same powers claimed the lands and pulled them into their empires. In Asia, examples of this could be found in China where Britain took over governing the lands and imposed various cultural, political, and economic changes that had long term affects that can felt in contemporary times. The majority of colonialism in Asia extended to just past the end of World War II where most European powers found themselves unable to sustain colonies in foreign lands due to the damage received on the home front during the war. Slowly, Asian countries were able to shake off European rule and regain their own culture and power to govern.

Colonialism was Europe’s domination of Asia and other lands including Africa. The end of colonial rule would make it appear that Asia had control of itself, but it was replaced with the Cold War which spilled over into Asia. During the Cold War, Europe was replaced by the Soviet Union and the United States. They moved in to influence the newly ‘freed’ countries and pull them either to the Communist side or the Democratic/Capitalist side. Asia had been freed from one control only to find itself as pawns in a game between two major superpowers determined to possess their future. Both colonialism and the Cold War used Asia to control though colonialism was mainly for power, resources, and status.


(1) Mark Borthwick, Pacific Century: The Emergence of Modern Pacific Asia, Third Edition, (Westview: New York, 2007), 400-404.

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