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War and 20th Century in Europe and Asia Essay

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Updated: Jun 25th, 2021

Imperialism, Modernization, and Westernization

The waves of imperialism, modernization, and Westernization had significant implications on 19th and 20th century Asia. Firstly, imperialism had negative impacts since it destroyed the cultural practices of the people and exploiting the available natural resources. Some natives were enslaved and forced to offer free services to the colonialists. However, several Asian regions managed to receive new goods and resources from different European powers, such as India (Hoffman 19).

The established transport systems became a new opportunity for economic growth. Modernization was a positive force that empowered more people with educational opportunities and ideas for pursuing their trade and economic activities (Davidann 23). Concepts of democracy started to take shape in many Asian countries. However, this force encouraged many people to consider foreign practices that could disorient their cultural beliefs and values. Similarly, the wave of Westernization resulted in new ideologies, economic structures, and political ideas. The notions of fundamentalism and protectionism became common in many Asian countries throughout the 20th century.

These forces had significant effects on these three countries: Japan, China, and Korea. Firstly, Japan was able to stand firm against any foreign threat throughout the early 20th century. However, Westernization, modernization, and imperialism were powerful occurrences or trends that made it possible for this country to industrialize. The region would become a trade destination for many countries from the West.

These ideals have made it one of the industrial and technological powerhouses on the continent. Nonetheless, its leaders have been keen to maintain its cultural practices. Secondly, China recorded negative outcomes due to the processes of Westernization and imperialism. For instance, the economy was disrupted due to the Chinese uprisings that resulted in instability (Davidann 45). Consequently, this country’s trade routes were disoriented.

Although this country was not colonized, many people had to accept the influences of different European powers, such as Britain. The introduction of opium forced many citizens to become socially unstable, thereby affecting economic performance (Platt 39). In the recent past, many young Chinese citizens have been pursuing the ideas associated with the West since they prefer attending foreign schools and transforming their ways of life. However, this force has made it possible for China to attract foreign investors and companies, thereby transforming its economy.

Thirdly, Korea was imperialized by Japan during the early 20th century. After the end of the Second World War, the Korean peninsula became satellite colonies for the United States and the Soviet Union. This led to the infamous Korean War that never presented an outright winner. Consequently, this region would be subdivided to form North Korea and South Korea. After allowing the forces of Westernization and urbanization to take over, South Korea modernized much faster than its counterpart (Davidann 48). Currently, it has become the center for ethnological and industrial innovations while North Korea still remains militarized country.

From these descriptions, it is evident that each wave of change presented both opportunities and challenges. Imperialism opened this continent to new ideas and encouraged the people to engage in international trade. However, it disrupted cultural practices and resulted in the loss of rights, liberties, and natural resources. The wave of modernization presented new technologies, ideologies, and practices that addressed most of the challenges facing different citizens (Hoffman 58).

Unfortunately, many individuals had to leave their ways of life and suffer the negativities of urbanization and capitalism. Westernization offered new opportunities for Asian countries to implemented superior economic models (Hoffman 91). Incidentally, they had to grapple with the predicaments of cultural diffusion and loss of traditional values.

Major Wars: 19th and 20th Century

Between the 19th and 20th centuries, several wars were recorded in Europe and Asia. Such upheavals were catalyzed by diverse factors and were intended to deliver specific results. For instance, the Boshin War was fought between the soldiers of the Tokugawa shogunate and individuals who wanted Japan’s political power to be restored to the original Imperial Court. This upheaval took place from the year 1868 to 1869 (Hoffman 47).

The First Opium War was a conflict that was fought between the soldiers of the Chinese Qing dynasty and the British soldiers from 1839 to 1842. This conflict emerged after the Chinese decided to ban the opium trade in the country. They went further to indicate that all those who would be caught engaging in such business would be killed. However, the superiority of the British army resulted in the defeat of the Chinese.

The First Sino-Japanese War was an upheaval between Japan and China over their influences on the Korean peninsula. It took place between 1894 and 1895. After failing to win, the Chinese agreed to a peace deal that allowed the Japanese to have control over this region. The First World War of 1914-1918 was an upheaval that was influenced by the concepts of nationalism and imperialism that dominated the 18th and 19th centuries.

The Second Sino-Japanese War of 1937-1945 was seen as a move by the people Japanese to continue extending their imperialist policies and acquire labor, food, and raw materials. This is a clear indication that such a conflict coincided with the Second World War that broke out in 1939 in the European continent (Offord 41). Similarly, German’s objective at the start of this war was to pursue its imperialistic and nationalistic goals.

After examining the causes and developments of these major wars, it is agreeable that they have both practical and ethical implications today. Firstly, these upheavals were triggered or catalyzed by the concept of imperialism. This is the case since they were aimed at acquiring power or additional territories. The involved sides or parties fought without considering the rights and liberties of innocent people. Modern societies should, therefore, take these events seriously since they present practical ideas and solutions that can empower them to deal with their differences and wrangles (Offord 72). The casualties and deaths recorded in each of the conflicts should encourage countries and governments to promote peace and engage in foreign policies that have the potential to reduce wars by all means.


Human beings can learn a lot from these wars and apply them to their understanding of the world today. Firstly, they should realize that conflicts tend to arise from the desire for power and additional resources. This should become a good starting point for people to pursue peace and be ready to protect one another. Secondly, governments can go further to promote appropriate economic models and identify international partners that have similar views and economic goals (Platt 83).

Thirdly, all countries should collaborate to prevent wars since their consequences tend to be deadly and affect the experiences of the greatest number of people. Finally, states should avoid the idea of imperialism and focus on the unique benefits of Westernization and modernization. Such an approach will make it easier for them to get rid of the problems affecting humanity today, such as poverty, insecurity, and chronic diseases.

Works Cited

Davidann, Jon Thares. The Limits of Westernization: American and East Asian Intellectuals Create Modernity, 1860-1960. Routledge, 2018.

Hoffman, Philip T. Why Did Europe Conquer the World? Princeton University Press, 2015.

Offord, Alexander. The Causes of World War II. Crabtree Publishing Company, 2015.

Platt, Stephen R. Imperial Twilight: The Opium War and the End of China’s Last Golden Age. Atlantic Books, 2019.

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