Dr.  Ladd Thomas

Conflict and Cooperation in Southeast Asia



World War II- Japanese control of Southeast Asia

May 1941- Japan helped Thailand gain back territory ceded to France in and after 1893; Thailand gained 54,000-sq. km. of territory

Thailand allied with Japan, declared war on the United States and Great Britain on January 25, 1942

July 1944- Pro-Japanese government overthrown, new leader, Pridi, took over, Thailand switched sides to the Allied cause

Thais wouldn't fight outside of Thailand

After war, French wanted Thailand to pay for allying themselves with Japan, got back territory obtained by Thailand from them in 1941

Landon- U.S. attach to Thailand

Vietnam- Chinese province from 111 BC, under Chinese rule for 1,000 years

Vietnam was independent from 939 AD to French colonialism in 1861

1954- French defeat at Dien Bien Phu

1966- C.I.A. informed U.S. government that South Vietnam was losing two years before the Tet Offensive

Late 1980s- Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev- ideas of perestroika and glasnost, retreat from Vietnam, Beijing and Hanoi moved to normalize relations

Communism- Stalin- 1948- A West vs. Communist Bloc was inevitable and imminent

Kruschev- 1954- War wasn't inevitable and imminent, but conflict with the West was

North Vietnam, Laos, Kampuchea (although they allied themselves with China only and rejected the U.S.S.R.) became Communist

Thailand- Burmese and Thais consider themselves traditional enemies

Circa 200,000 Burmese refugees in Thailand

Philippines- 1946, Philippine independence

After World War II, claimed Sabah, trained troops on Corregidor and Mindanao

Philippines formally allied with United States during Cold War

Cambodia- 1975-1979 Khmer Rouge

Massive population loss in "Killing Fields", about 1.7 million people killed under Pol Pot regime (out of a total population of about 7 or 8 million people)

Spratly Islands- Claimed by Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan, China, Vietnam, and Brunei

China claims all of the Spratly Islands as its own

All competing countries, except Brunei, have military installations on one or more of the islands

Malaysia- In 1963, Sabah, Sarawak, Malaya, and Singapore became Malaysia

Singapore kicked out two years later

Indonesia refused to recognize Malaysia as a country, used armed force against Malaysia (albeit in a limited way) for the first 2 or 3 years of Malaysia's existence



ASEAN- Association of Southeast Asian Nations

Founded in Bangkok in August 1967

Original Members- Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia

Designed to encourage economic growth and to promote peace and stability

Brunei joined in 1984 after attaining independence

Newest Members (1990s)- Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Burma

Current Members- Brunei, Thailand, Laos, Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam

Played important part in mediating civil war in Cambodia in the late 1980s and early 1990s

AFTA- ASEAN Free Trade Area

Agreement by ASEAN to reduce trade barriers, such as quotas and tariffs, among member states

Founded in Singapore in 1992

Dedicated to goal of having nearly free trade among member nations in 15 years

APEC- Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation

Founded in 1989, largely through Australian encouragement

Members- Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and the United States

Promotes regional integration and free trade (including global free trade)

ARF-ASEAN Regional Forum

Deals with political and security issues


Key Concepts

  • Fall of Communism creating a more fragmented and interdependent situation in Southeast Asia that is different from the Communist vs. non-Communist worldview previously adhered to; Russian withdrawal from region has major effects on Southeast Asia
  • United States foreign policy now makes Southeast Asia a secondary priority- U.S. interests in region have been met, and no conflicts are threatening those interests
  • Southeast Asian points of conflict no longer volatile- colonialism, Communist threat, Vietnam War relegated to history
  • Trade and aid issues more important than security issues at present

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