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Defining and explaining the historic significance of Zheng He, Zaibatsu, and Tonghak Rebellion Report (Assessment)


Zheng He was a Muslim Chinese explorer, court eunuch, and fleet admiral. He commanded ambitious voyages to various countries between 1405 and 1433. Serving as a court eunuch in the Chinese capital, Zheng He helped Zhu Yuanzhang conquer the Yuan Dynasty. Similarly, during a coup, Zheng He assisted Zhu Di, son of Zhu Yuanzhang, gain the throne.

In reward, he received dominion over the Chinese Navy. Zheng He led a huge fleet to Southeast Asia, which carried soldiers and huge quantity of goods. The fleet arrived at countries of East Africa, Arabia, and Southeast Asia, initiating an achievement in navigation history, which was considered an exceptional great historical epoch in Chinese account of cultural exchanges and trade.

Zaibatsu refers to the special finance capital within Japanese capitalism for the epoch preceding World War II. They comprised of large financial and industrial conglomerates within Japan. They remain significant as the core of industrial and economic activity in the Japanese Empire.

The zaibatsu emerged from the policies of entrepreneurism of the Meiji government, which typified modernization of economy during the period. The private enterprises came together into large complexes directed by government bureaucrats into sectors of development essential for Japan’s reform.

The Tonghak Rebellion was an anti-feudal and anti-government uprising in Southern Korea in 1894. The peasant class was protesting against the corrupt government manifest in Korea during the era. The Tonghak Rebellion remains significant owing to its ability to attract a huge population of Koreans to make demands and force change. It was the catalyst of the Sino-Japanese war occurring between 1894 and 1895. Equally, it is significant as the largest renowned uprising in the Korean history that presaged the Righteous Army Movement.

China in decline

The Qing dynasty experienced revitalization before suffering a systemic crisis. It enjoyed more than a century of prosperity. During the eighteenth century, China was a strong nation with the leading gross domestic product in the universe. By the end of the eighteenth century, China’s agriculture had vastly developed, and its foreign trade was huge.

Similarly, owing to a long phase of peaceful development, the Chinese society became prosperous, improving people’s lives significantly. However, the early Qing dynasty marked a period of prosperity that would not go on for long. The mighty empire collapsed in 1911 owing to interplay between external and internal factors (Liu 3).

External factors

Between 1840 and 1911, China experienced dramatic changes, losing its superiority to the industrialized western nations (Wang 36). At the time when China was struggling with major problems, industrialization was enhancing the development of western powers.

On reaching China, the rapidly developing western powers took advantage of China, thus weakening it. The weakness of the Chinese society became fatal after the hostile and expanding western powers challenged it. Traditional China’s agricultural economy proved incompetent to compete with the industrial economy.

The traditional Chinese society’s stable social order appeared quite vulnerable when the imperialist aggressions invaded it. Consequently, the conventional Chinese culture became powerless owing to the challenges emerging from the hostile greedy capitalist cultures.

Most external challenges to China’s security emerged from the nomadic populations of the north. In 1839, the British Navy caught the Qing rulers by surprise attacking China’s southern coast. The most shocking and severe foreign challenge emerged from the Japanese military during the Sino-Japanese War. Japan defeated the Qing Empire because it was newly modernized, better equipped, and better organized.

Internal factors

Among the internal factors are the political aspects, such as inefficient emperors, administrative inefficiency within the government, and lack of a capable Manchu leadership. By the nineteenth century, the Qing government had deteriorated significantly in terms of control and power.

During the leadership of the Ch’ing emperor, governance within Peking was effectual only if the leader was a capable man. However, during the nineteenth century, there did not emerge a great Ch’ing royal leader. The leaders who rose to power encouraged serious corruption. The high government officials received tokens from the low officials. Instead of using this money for government projects, the high officials pocketed it.

Accordingly, the Chinese citizens were obliged to pay huge taxes, thus suffering economically. Because of lack of a capable leader to supervise government officials, the officials became incompetent. In this context, the political structure was accountable for demoralizing energetic action within the administration. Consequently, the incompetent high government officials elected ineffectual low officials. Thus, the detrimental effects of incompetence spread downward.

For more than a century, China enjoyed great prosperity, which led to an immense population growth. The lengthy period of peace contributed to a rapid increase in China’s populace. However, by the end of the nineteenth century, the Chinese agrarian economy could not support the exploding population. Equally, cultivable land was scarce, and it remained concentrated to the powerful landowners. Regardless of the dearth in land, the law forbade people to shift to Manchuna as well as to other sectors outside China.

In this perspective, citizens did not merely suffer from land scarcity but also from job scarcity. China did not have great industrial development to take in the rising workforce, and to augment the citizen’s standard of living. Hence, the food supply and the utilization of natural resources seemed to reach its limits. Accordingly, overpopulation led to poverty, which in turn resulted into social suffering and rebellions.

Between 1851 and 1864, China faced a peasant rebellion that led to establishment of the Heavenly Kingdom of Great Peace. The confrontation between the peasant rebels and the Qing army resulted in massive loss of life as well as vast material destruction. Consequently, the resources, and legitimacy of the Qing leadership encountered severe strain.

The Korean War

Nature of the war

The conflict leading to the Korean War had its genesis during the Cold War. The conflict affected the relations between the democratic and the communist nations. Hence, the Korean War signified the conflict between the communists and the non-communists in Korea between 1950 and 12953.

As the Second World War ended, Korea was split into two zones, namely South Korea and North Korea, at the 38th parallel. In 1948, these two sectors established rival governments. The South proclaimed the Republic of Korea while the North proclaimed People’s Democratic Republic of Korea.

Relations between the two forces increasingly strained with North Korea invading South Korea in 1950. Numerous soldiers from North Korean Army flowed across the boundary, which divided South Korea and North Korea. The United Nations censured the invasion and demanded removal of North Koreans from the south. Accordingly, the United Nations urged its members to offer support to South Korea.

While American troops joined the war in aid of South Korea, Chinese forces joined the war to support North Korea. Consequently, heavy fighting continued up to 1952. The greatest fear was of a wider war with China and Russia, or even Third World War. Nevertheless, in 1953, the Korean War ended. The aftermath is evident up to today as the Korean peninsula remains divided to date.

Causes of the war

The augmenting concern of communism as well as the anticipated amalgamation of South Korea and North Korea triggered the Korean War. Previously, only Korea had occupied the Korean peninsula. However, various diverse dynasties, as well as the Chinese and the Japanese ruled it. As the Second World War neared its end, the Soviet Union stated war on Japan, thereafter occupying the north of Korean peninsula.

By the time the war was ending, Korea was split into southern and northern divisions. The Soviet Union took control over the northern division while the United States administered the southern division. The partition formed the basis for conflicts because the northern division followed the Soviet Union and became communist, and the south opposed communism, thus forming an anti-communist government.

The communist side, comprising of China, North Korea, and the Soviet Union, wanted to seize the Korean Peninsula and assimilate it in the communist bloc. While the Soviet set upon expanding communism, the United States endeavored at eradicating it. There arose conflict between the supporters and the non-supporters of communism. Consequently, with China and the Soviet Union supporting North Korea, fighting between southern and northern Korea became common and eventually the Korean War emerged.

Since 1904, Japan had occupied Korea. Hence, the great allies, the United States and the Soviet Union, declared that Korea would be free and independent. They agreed that the United States take up southern Korea while the Soviet Union takes up northern Korea with the aim of disarming the Japanese. This resulted into a divided Korea, which laid foundation for conflict between South and North Korea.

Politically, the Soviet Union deemed the Korean peninsula as a springboard to invade Russia, and declared that the Korean government should remain loyal to the Soviet Union. Owing to this policy as well as strategic position, the Soviet military administration in northern Korea declined any initiative of establishing a single Korean government.

The leader of North Korea, Kim I1-sung, took advantage of this and asked for the Soviet support in North Korean forces. With Soviet Union’s full support, Kim I1-sung enjoyed better-equipped, better-armed, and well-prepared forces. Hence, he used them to attack South Korea.

Effects of the war

The Korean War had economic effects in both North and South Korea. North Korea has since endured chronic economic crisis and thus suffers intense poverty. The Stalinist administration in the north is on the verge of moving outside its hermit state. In South Korea, however, the war brought great economic transformation. South Korea has grown into a high-tech economy.

The war resulted in numerous casualties. Many people, ranging from military to civilians, were killed and wounded. About 40,000 of the American service members lost their lives in the battle. Although the definite figures of the North Korea, South Korea, and Chinese casualties are unknown, an estimate of 100,000 South Korean soldiers was wounded and 46,000 was killed. The Chinese lost an estimate of 400,000 soldiers, and North Korea lost approximately 215,000 soldiers.

Works Cited

Liu, Guoli. Politics and government in China. California: ABC-CLIO, 2012. Print.

Wang, Gabe. China and the Taiwan issue: incoming war at Taiwan Strait. Oxford: University Press of America, 2006. Print.

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IvyPanda. (2018, December 13). Defining and explaining the historic significance of Zheng He, Zaibatsu, and Tonghak Rebellion. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/defining-and-explaining-the-historic-significance-of-zheng-he-zaibatsu-and-tonghak-rebellion/

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"Defining and explaining the historic significance of Zheng He, Zaibatsu, and Tonghak Rebellion." IvyPanda, 13 Dec. 2018, ivypanda.com/essays/defining-and-explaining-the-historic-significance-of-zheng-he-zaibatsu-and-tonghak-rebellion/.

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IvyPanda. "Defining and explaining the historic significance of Zheng He, Zaibatsu, and Tonghak Rebellion." December 13, 2018. https://ivypanda.com/essays/defining-and-explaining-the-historic-significance-of-zheng-he-zaibatsu-and-tonghak-rebellion/.

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IvyPanda. 2018. "Defining and explaining the historic significance of Zheng He, Zaibatsu, and Tonghak Rebellion." December 13, 2018. https://ivypanda.com/essays/defining-and-explaining-the-historic-significance-of-zheng-he-zaibatsu-and-tonghak-rebellion/.

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IvyPanda. (2018) 'Defining and explaining the historic significance of Zheng He, Zaibatsu, and Tonghak Rebellion'. 13 December.

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