Nationalism in Asia was a product of modernization. Nationalism in Asia has been a response to, or a resistance against imperialist dominance by means of modernization and revolution. Asian nationalist movements can be broken down into two waves, the establishment and rise of nationalism.
The establishment of Indian National Congress in 1885 by a large group of nationalist due to unfair treatment by Britain was the first sign of Asian nationalism. According to Murphy, Nationalist movements did not peak until 1919, which saw the success of the Russian revolution and US president Woodrow Wilson’s ideal of national self-determination. During that year, the Amritsar massacre on April 13th in India solidified India’s view of colonialism as unacceptable and prominent figures of China’s mass demonstration on May 4th later founded the Communist party in 1921.
According to a passage on page 372, on March 1st, 1919 Koreans were also inspired to demonstrate against Japanese oppression, although it was quickly crushed after brutal Japanese crackdown. Although nationalism was in full effect since 1919, many nations lacked a huge base since most nationalist were intellectuals in countries mostly comprised of peasants. In addition to that, disorganized parties such as Sun Yat-Sen KMT, Mao ZeDong CCP and Warlords in China hindered the nationalist movement in China for several years. India’s complications were due to many religions and finding a way to bring the masses together in a revolt against Britain for independence.
This would later change by Mohandas Gandhi in India and Mao ZeDong in China. Gandhi, whom was also western educated, led India’s nationalist movement through non-violence organizations and protests. Murphy’s interpretation of Gandhi’s success were “He simply used traditional methods and symbols to appeal to the Indian people, most of whom were not intellectuals, giving them a sense of pride in their national identity and inspiring them into action.
Gandhi organized the Salt March in 1930 with Nehru, which led to thousands being jailed along the process but touched the conscience of the nation (P. 379). According to Murphy, Gandhi’s salt march led to discontinued civil disobedience by Britain, a new constitution in 1935 and nationwide election in 1937. India was on the verge on regaining its independence but Britain’s involvement in the Great War delayed India’s independence until 1947. Mao ZeDong, co-founder of the Chinese Communist Party after the May Fourth Movement, first assisted Sun Yat-Sen and his “Three Principles of the People”, which were nationalism, democracy, and the people’s livelihood.
Following the northern expedition, the KMT reunited China under Chiang Kai-Shek and established a national capital in Nanking in 1927 but sought to eliminate the CCP in Shanghai shortly after. Over the next twenty years, the KMT and CCP began their long battles for control of China’s political system. The CCP were weakened and ultimately retreated to Yanan, which was the destination of the Long march in 1934, gaining mass support of peasants along the way.
Following the Japanese invasion in 1937, CCP and KMT were forced to reunite again in order to fight off the Japanese. However, this time around, the KMT were severely weakened and the CCP gained strength through Mao’s perfected guerilla strategy against the Japanese. According to Murphy, “The Chinese communist party barely survived KMT’s efforts to eliminate it, but during the Japanese war from 1937 to 1945 it rapidly gained strength and support in the course of its guerilla resistance to the hated invaders.” In other words, the Japanese invasion led to the revival of the CCP, which later became the ruling party of China following a civil war from 1945 to 1949 between CCP and KMT.
Following the establishment of the People’s Republic of China on October 1st, 1949, Mao said “China has stood up.” Although the success of China and India’s nationalist movements happened shortly after the Great War in 1945, most Asian countries such as Vietnam and Korea spent the next several decades fighting against Western power and divided parties for independence. Korea, although relieved of Japanese rule, are still torn between the Communist north and anti-communist south.
Vietnam was formally united in 1976 as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam after years of battling France and United States. Ultimately, it was also a communist victory by the Vietnamese as well. In conclusion, the nationalist movements in Asia were initiated by intellectuals seeking to regain power of their country and accomplished by individuals that were able to unify the majority of the country. As seen in China, Vietnam and India. The success of nationalism was through the unification of the peasants. Korea on the other hand, got its independence through the defeat of its colonizer. China’s nationalism was supported by two parties and ultimately won by the Communist, who was able to gain the peasants trust after KMT’s government failed to liberate the peasants from poverty.