Book Reviews

Topics: Southeast Asia, People's Republic of China, China Pages: 15 (5746 words) Published: March 8, 2013
Mindanao State University – Iligan Institute of Technology College of Arts and Social Sciences
Andres Bonifacio Avenue, Tibanga, Iligan City

A Requirement in History 122

related to the descriptive course
Modern East Asia
A Short History of China And Southeast Asia:
Tribute, Trade and Influence
By: Martin Stuart-Fox

Submitted by:
Michelle Titular Cortes

Submitted to:
Prof. Rey Luis Montesclaros

March 4, 2013
Stuart-Fox, Martin. A Short History of China and Southeast Asia: Tribute, Trade and Influence. Australia: South Wind Production, 2003.

This book sketches in broad outline the history of 2000 years of contact between the peoples and governments of China and the peoples and governments of Southeast Asia. This is an motivated undertaking that presents some obvious problems. China itself has not always been unified and Southeast Asia is a wonderfully varied region that historically has comprised many more independent kingdoms and principalities than the ten modern states making up the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Moreover frontiers have shifted over these two thousand years, and once powerful independent kingdoms in what is now southern China have disappeared. Historians do not just recount past events, however: they also interpret them, often by pointing out patterns that impart meaning. What this book will attempt to do is to trace the changing relations between China and Southeast Asia from the points of view of both sides. How both sides, as regions—China as unified empire (for most of the time) and Southeast Asia comprising a collection of kingdoms and states—related to each other evolved over time and according to circumstances. The international relations cultures of both China and Southeast Asian polities—comprising cognitive, cultural, political, diplomatic, economic, and military factors—also changed over time. Bilateral interaction between China and Southeast Asian polities came to constitute a set of relationships that have called a bilateral relations regime.4 In the modern world, a bilateral relations regime between two states might be given formal expression in a bilateral treaty, but more often regimes rest simply on some sharing of principles, norms and expectations, which presuppose a sensitivity by each party to the other’s interests. In large part the principles underlying early bilateral relations regimes between China and Southeast Asian kingdoms were dictated by China, but they came to be accepted by Southeast Asian ruling elites as defining expected behavior on both sides in matters of diplomacy, security and trade. These bilateral relations regimes evolved not just out of a coincidence of interests; they also necessarily rested on a degree of compatibility of worldviews and shared historical experience, factors which still impact upon contemporary relations between China and the states of Southeast Asia. What the writer has tried to do in this book is to show how certain elements of the different ways both Chinese and Southeast Asians viewed the world not only characterized their relationships until the middle of the nineteenth century, but have persisted into the present. This is not to argue that worldview is unchanging. Besides, all Chinese know that China no longer stands alone as the superior Middle Kingdom; even though this is the name they still call their country. And the peoples and governments of Southeast Asia will hardly accept a return to an outmoded tributary system--anew pattern of power relations is emerging, one that remember back in significant ways to earlier times. The era of Western domination in Asia is drawing to a close. The United States has withdrawn from mainland Southeast Asia and will not return, leaving China the opportunity to regain its historic position of regional dominance....
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