Role of China and India in Asia

Throughout history there have been many nations who have had great influence on modern society, although none have been as impactful as China and India. From ancient to contemporary times the effect the two nations have over not only Asia but the entire world is acutely impressive by historical standards. In this essay the spread of language, religion, and economic growth created by China and India throughout history will be discussed along with the long-term effect of such development.

The Spread of Language According to Backlund and Ivy (2008), “A language is a system of symbols (words or vocabulary) governed by rules (grammar) and patterns (syntax) common to a community of people” (p. 144). The usage of language in order to communicate began millions of years ago and evolved alongside the early hominids. China and India, two of the world’s oldest and most prosperous nations have had tremendous effects on neighboring countries for millions of years, which include the use of both verbal and written language. The 1961 Census revealed that 1,652 languages are used in India alone, with 18 of them being considered major languages of the world.

The official language of the government and well-educated individuals is Hindi, although the numerous State Governments within India are free to select any of the many Indian languages as their official language. Sanskrit, the original and sacred language of India has greatly affected South Asia, specifically the Arabic language, which is essentially a derivative of Sanskrit.

Mandarin Chinese, the official and most prevalent language of China, has over 873 million fluent speakers as of 2005. However, the effect China’s language has had on its neighboring countries throughout history has been even more remarkable than the sheer number of speakers the language houses. In 111 BCE the Han Empire held control over Vietnam for close to a millennium, greatly impacting the Vietnamese language and writing style. Furthermore, Korea also became affected by the Chinese language when taken over by Chinese leaders during the first century BCE. In addition Chinese Buddhism and Confucianism aided in the spread of written Chinese across East Asia, which also prompted the modification of central governments in Japan, Vietnam, and Korea. Written Chinese thus became the language of politicians and scholars, uniting the nations by means of transcribed communication.

The Spread of Religious Systems The "Religions Of India" (2003) website states that “a number of world religions originated in India, and others that started elsewhere found fertile ground for growth there” (para. 5). The most prevalent religions of India include Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism. As of 2011 there are an estimated 750 million followers of Hinduism, 350 million Buddhist, and 4.2 million Jainism followers worldwide (para. 9).

The spread of Buddhism, a branch of Hinduism, has spread and affected much of East Asia, including China. Indeed, Buddhism is the dominant religion of China, winning in popularity over Chinese born religions Confucianism and Taoism. It was in China, however, that Buddhism gained popularity and spread worldwide. Taoism, a religious philosophy formed by Tao-Te Ching, gained reputation and followers in the island nation of Japan more so than in China. However, it was during the same time period that Tao-Te Ching shaped Taoism that the more popular and politically excepted religion of Confucianism, created by Chinese philosopher Confucius, made way in China. The teachings and principles of Confucianism were quickly adopted by other Asian countries such as Japan, Korea, and Vietnam.

The Effect of India and China on the Global Economy and Regional Economics Since the beginning of India and China’s history the two countries have had a large impact on the surrounding countries through import and export. Ancient Chinese history reveals historical national focus on industry, trade and commerce, and agriculture as key economic activities; requirements for a prosperous economy to flourish. Furthermore, the Silk Route (beginning in China) stretched 4,000 miles across Asia in order to trade resources with not only other Asian nations, but Europe as well. As of today China is the world’s second largest economy. Furthermore, China’s political history has aided in shaping modern Asia in several ways. Confucianism, for example, has played a large role in much of Asia’s political as well as social systems.

Also, the Ch’in Dynasty began and formed the first functioning empire-a political system used in many parts of early Asia, but it wasn’t until the T’ang Dynasty that a more modern shape took place in Chinese politics when government officials were selected to aid the emperor in ruling the Chinese Empire. Lastly, the Chinese military system has greatly influenced the workings of other Asian nation’s military structure.

India was the first Asian nation to fully adopt democracy (and is the world’s largest), with its neighbors trailing behind by forming similar political systems, such as Japan, which is a parliamentary representative democratic monarchy. Additionally, India became one of the original members of the United Nations and has continued to be active in UN debates. Economically the Spice Trade was the first trade route that connected imports and exports from Europe to Southern Asia. Moreover, India has continued to be a chief participant in global trade, and has excelled in their scientific accomplishments. States Jayati Ghosh, a professor of economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University, “India's growth [in the global market] is strongly related to internal and external liberalization measures that generated booms in some domestic economic activities” (Ghosh, 2012).

While the world has seen much change over the course of human history the impact of India and China has been tremendous in regards to many of Asia’s political systems, religions, and languages both verbal and written. Furthermore, the world has been affected by China and India’s booming economies of imports and exports, causing the indication of a new world power to become virtually eminent. Through further globalization as well as liberalization these two power-houses have nowhere to go but up in the economic hemisphere.

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