Sunday, November 26, 2006

Cold War in Asia

Olaf made the following interesting point in my assessing my presentation on the Cold War encroaching on Asia.

O.B: Did you come across any information on how far Asian actors tried to develop policies to avoid entanglement in the Cold War, or was the CW more often seen as a chance to draw an advantage on other’s expense? For Africa there were e.g. the Casablanca group and the Brazzaville group: is there anything similar to that in Asia?

I had not come across many references to it but Best discusses the Asian Relations Conference organised by India and held in New Delhi in 1947. p.310.

A quick search on Jstor yields the following write up from the U.S. journal Social Forces. I think the author’s summary of events shows the concerns prevalent in non-aligned Asian states at that time (and also perhaps in the U.S. given it took three years for the report to get printed).

'The avowed purpose of the conference was to discuss problems common to Asian countries. "Politically of course the most important problem," says the introduction, "was how to terminate foreign domination, direct or indirect, and to achieve freedom to direct affairs in accordance with the will of the people concerned so essential for peace and prosperity.”

'“Economic freedom,” highlighted next, was visualised in terms of transforming colonial economies into national economies, nominally with regard to Asian and international cooperation.

'Aside from European Imperialist relations to the Orient, neither the world power struggle nor such freedoms as those of people, speech, the press and assembly, seemed to have concerned the conference.'

The write up also adds that there was a "painful need" of the study of the transition from colonial to national economies -- a point I try to make in my presentation that the transition to national economic independence is a factor in determining the inroads made by the superpowers in Asia at that time.

Asian Relations: Being Report of the Proceedings and Documentation of the First Asian Relations Conference, New Delhi, March-April, 1947., Review author[s]: Maurice T. Price
Social Forces © 1950 Social Forces, University of North Carolina Press

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