Rise of China

Asian Economic Powers

East Asia 2014.0618

Rise of China

Chimerica, Asian Tigers, Dragon Economies (18 June 2014)

Historical Map of East Asia & the Western Pacific

Gorbachev's reforms led to the collapse of the Soviet Union and a decade of stagnation in Russia, but China's more gradual road to capitalism after the death of Mao proved more successful. By 2011, aided by the restoration of Hong Kong and Macau in the 1990s, it had overtaken Japan economically and seemed poised to return to its old role as the dominant power in Asia.

Main Events

Dissolution of the Soviet Union

On the morning of 25 December 1991, in a nationally televised speech, Mikhail Gorbachev resigned as president of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, declaring the office extinct and ceding all its powers to Russian president Boris Yeltsin. At 7:32 pm that night, the Soviet flag was lowered for the last time in Moscow and the Russian tricolor raised in its place, symbolically marking the end to the Soviet Union and the independence of the eleven remaining Soviet republics.

Asian financial crisis

Starting in Thailand with the collapse of the Thai baht, a financial crisis spread across the 'tiger' economies of East and Southeast Asia in the late 1990s. The biggest impact was on Indonesia, South Korea, and Thailand, but Hong Kong, Laos, Malaysia, and the Philippines were also deeply affected. The crisis ended about a decade of growth in the region and put pressure on the economies of the Pacific Rim.

Hong Kong returned to China

Although China had ceded Hong Kong Island and Kowloon in perpetuity, it would have been impractical to maintain without the air and sea infrastructure in the surrounding New Territories, whose lease from the Qing Dynasty was set to expire on 1 July 1997. Britain thus negotiated for the People's Republic of China to assume sovereignty of Hong Kong on the condition that both it and the New Territories remain together as a separate entity from Mainland China itself with free elections ("Two Systems, One Country").

East Timorese crisis

After 78.5 percent of voters choose independence from Indonesia in the East Timorese independence referendum of 30 August 1999, violence erupts in East Timor. Anti-independence paramilitary groups attack people and set fires in the capital of Dili, prompting foreigners to flee the country and tens of thousands of East Timorese to take to the mountains. In response to Western condemnation of the violence, Indonesia agrees to withdraw its troops from East Timor and accept an international peacekeeping force in its stead.

Macau returned to China

The 1974 Carnation Revolution had ended any Portuguese interest in maintaining an overseas empire. Accordingly, Portugal negotiated to transfer sovereignty over its port city Macau to the People's Republic of China, under similar conditions to those made for Hong Kong.

Subprime mortgage crisis

During a boom in housing construction, the bundling and improper rating of high-risk mortgages caused the United States bond market to crash in 2007. The ensuing financial crisis sent the US economy into the Great Recession, with the stock market crashing a year later.

North Korean nuclear tests

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea detonated a nuclear device underground on 25 May 2009, making its first successful nuclear test.

About this map