[Old NCERT World History ch13] After WW2: Asian Independence, Korean war, Vietnam War, Khmer Rouge (Part 3 of 4)


[Old NCERT World History ch13] After WW2: Asian Independence, Korean war, Vietnam War, Khmer Rouge (Part 3 of 4)

  1. Asian Countries: Independence
  2. India
  3. Burma
  4. Indonesia
  5. Sri Lanka, Thailand, Philippines and Malaysia
  6. Chinese Revolution
  7. The Korean War
  8. Vietnam Partition
  9. Vietnam War
  10. Cambodia: Khmer Rouge

Asian Countries: Independence

The rise and growth of nationalism in Asia and Africa has been briefly mentioned in Chapter 12. The period after the Second World War saw the emergence of most countries of Asia and Africa as independent nations. One country after another in these continents became independent. They won their independence through long and hard struggles against colonial powers. To some countries independence came only after long and bitter armed, struggle, to others without much bloodshed but not without a long period of strife. Generally, the colonial powers were not willing to give up their hold on the colonies and left only when they found that it was not possible to maintain their rule any more, During the Second World War, many imperialist countries had been ousted from their colonies, but after the war they tried to reestablish their rule. For some time they succeeded in doing so but were ultimately forced to withdraw.

The achievement of independence was the result primarily of the struggles of the peoples of the colonies. However, the changes in the international climate which followed the Second World War helped the peoples struggling for independence Imperialism as a whole had been weakened as a result of the war. The economies of many imperialist countries had suffered. Forces within the imperialist countries which were friendly with the peoples struggling for independence also had grown powerful. Freedom and democracy were the major aims for which the Allies had fought against the fascist countries and these aims had been made the basis for arousing peoples all over the world against fascism. The fulfilment of these aims could no longer be confined only to Europe, as had been done after the First World War. In many colonies which fascist countries had occupied by ousting the older colonial powers, the freedom movements had played an important role in the struggle against fascist occupation. For example, Japan had to face the resistance of the freedom movements in the countries of East and SouthEast Asia which she had occupied. It was not easy to restore the rule of the former colonial powers over these countries.

Another major international factor which facilitated the end of imperialism was the emergence of the Soviet Union and other socialist countries as a major force. These countries were inimical to imperialism and often gave aid and support to the freedom movements in the colonies. Similarly, the movements of socialism which had grown powerful the world over, including in the colonial countries, also supported the movements of freedom in the colonies.

The entire international context in which the freedom movements were launched had changed after the Second World War. At the international forums, particularly at the United Nations, the cause of the independence of colonies began to gain popularity. The international opinion was clearly against the continuation of imperialism. Imperialist countries resorted to various means to maintain their rule. They tried to create divisions in the freedom movements. They resorted to the use of terror. In some countries they tried to install governments which were nominally free but were in fact their puppets. However, most of the freedom movements were able to defeat these methods of disruption.

An important role in the achievement of independence by the countries of Asia and Africa was played by the unity which freedom movements in various countries achieved. The freedom movement in one country supported the freedom movements in other countries. The role of countries which had achieved their independence was very crucial in this regard. These countries supported the cause of those peoples who were still under colonial rule at the United Nations and other international forums. They also gave active help to the freedom movements. India played a crucial role in promoting the cause of freedom in Asia and Africa. Besides the movements in the colonies for independence, there were also movements in Asian and African countries to oust outdated political systems, to modernize the social and economic systems and to assume control over the resources of one’s country which had remained under foreign control even after freedom. These movements expressed the resolve of the peoples of Asia and Africa to become fully independent as well as to launch programmes of rapid social and economic development. Within two decades of the end of the Second World War, the political map of Asia and Africa had been completely changed.


Within a few years after the Second World War, a large number of Asian countries became independentOne of the first to win her independence was India. India had, however, been partitioned and along with India, another independent state, Pakistan, also came into being. (Pakistan broke up in 1971 when her eastern part —now Bangladesh—became independent). The independence of India was of great importance in the history of freedom movements in Asia and Africa. The policies pursued by the government of independent India under the leadership her first Prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, helped in strengthening the freedom movements in other countries and in hastening the achievement of independence by them.


Burma, renamed Myanmar recently, achieved her independence from Britain a few months after India became independent. In 1944, the Antifascist People’s Freedom League (AFPFL) had been formed in Burma. Its aim was to resist the Japanese invasion of Burma and to win independence for Burma. After the war, the British tried to restore their rule over Burma. This led to the intensification of the movement for freedom. In the course of the struggle, many leaders of the Burmese freedom movement were assassinated. However, Britain was forced to agree to the demand for freedom and Burma became independent on 4 January 1948.


The beginning of the nationalist movement in Indonesia has been referred to in the previous chapter. After the defeat of Japan, Sukarno, one of the pioneers of the freedom movement in Indonesia, proclaimed the independence of Indonesia. However, soon after the British troops landed there in order to help the Dutch to restore their rule. The government of independent Indonesia which had been formed by Sukarno resisted the attempt to reestablish colonial rule. There were demands in many countries of the world to put an end to the war which had been started in Indonesia to restore the Dutch rule. In Asian countries, the reaction was particularly intense. The leaders of the Indian freedom movement demanded that Indian soldiers, who had been sent to Indonesia as a part of the British army should be withdrawn. After India became free, she convened a conference of Asian nations in support of Indonesia’s independence. The conference met in New Delhi in January 1949 and called for the complete independence of Indonesia. The resistance of the Indonesian people and the mounting pressure of world opinion and Asian countries compelled Holland to set the leaders of Indonesian people free. On 2 November 1949, Holland recognized the independence of Indonesia.

Sri Lanka, Thailand, Philippines and Malaysia

SRI LANKA Within a few months of, India’s independence, Sri Lanka (Ceylon) also became free in February 1948.
THAILAND Thailand had been occupied by Japan and after the defeat of Japan became independent.
PHILIPPINES During the war, Japan had driven out the American forces from the Philippines. In 1946, the government of the United States agreed to the independence of the Philippines.
MALAYASIA In Malaya British rule had been reestablished after the war. In 1957, Malaya (now Malaysia) became an independent nation.

Chinese Revolution

You have read earlier about the unity between the Kuomintang and the Communist Party of China which had been built under the leadership of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen for the complete independence and unification of China. This unity had been broken after the death of Sun Yat-Sen and a civil war started in China between the Kuomintang under the leadership of Chiang Kai-Shek and the Communist Party of China, whose most important leader was Mao Zedong. After the Japanese invasion of China, the two parties and their armies cooperated for some time to resist the Japanese aggression. However, the conflicts between the two never ceased. The Kuomintang under Chiang Kai-Shek was a party which mainly represented the interests of capitalists and landlords. The Communist Party, on the other hand, was a party of workers and peasants. In the areas under Communist Party’s control, the estates of landlords had been expropriated and the land distributed among the peasants. Because of the policies pursued by the Communist Party, it gradually had won over millions of Chinese people to its side. The Communist Party had also organized a huge army called the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). After the defeat of Japan and the driving out of the Japanese forces from China, the civil war again broke out. The government of the United Stated gave massive aid to Chiang KaiShek, but by 1949 his armies were completely routed. With the remnants of his troops, Chiang KaiShek went to Taiwan (Formosa), an island which had been occupied by Japan after she had defeated China in 1895. See the map:

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