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This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. Western imperialism in Asia as presented in this article pertains to Western European entry into what was first called the East Indies. The thrust of European political power, commerce, and culture in Asia gave rise to growing trade in commodities—a key development in the rise of today’s modern world free market economy. In Asia, World War I and World War II were played out as struggles among several key imperial powers—conflicts involving the European powers along with Russia and the rising American and Japanese powers.
None of the colonial powers, however, possessed the resources to withstand the strains of both world wars and maintain their direct rule in Asia. European exploration of Asia started in ancient Roman times. Knowledge of lands as distant as China were held by the Romans. Trade with India through the Roman Egyptian Red Sea ports was significant in the first centuries of the Common Era. In the 13th and 14th centuries, a number of Europeans, many of them Christian missionaries, had sought to penetrate into China. The most famous of these travelers was Marco Polo. But these journeys had little permanent effect on East-West trade because of a series of political developments in Asia in the last decades of the 14th century, which put an end to further European exploration of Asia.
Western European rulers determined to find new trade routes of their own. The Portuguese spearheaded the drive to find oceanic routes that would provide cheaper and easier access to South and East Asian goods. This chartering of oceanic routes between East and West began with the unprecedented voyages of Portuguese and Spanish sea captains. In 1509, the Portuguese under Francisco de Almeida won the decisive battle of Diu against a joint Mamluk and Arab fleet sent to expel the Portuguese of the Arabian Sea. The victory enabled Portugal to implement its strategy of controlling the Indian Ocean. Portuguese colonial viceroy most instrumental in consolidating Portugal’s holdings in Africa and in Asia.
He understood that Portugal could wrest commercial supremacy from the Arabs only by force, and therefore devised a plan to establish forts at strategic sites which would dominate the trade routes and also protect Portuguese interests on land. Lured by the potential of high profits from another expedition, the Portuguese established a permanent base in Cochin, south of the Indian trade port of Calicut in the early 16th century. Portuguese holdings in Africa and Asia, and secure control of trade with the East Indies and China. His first objective was Malacca, which controlled the narrow strait through which most Far Eastern trade moved.
In 1557, China decided to lease Macau to the Portuguese as a place where they could dry goods they transported on their ships, which they held until 1999. The Portuguese, based at Goa and Malacca, had now established a lucrative maritime empire in the Indian Ocean meant to monopolise the spice trade. Portuguese, through Lourenço de Almeida, the son of Francisco de Almeida, reached Ceylon. The Portuguese founded a fort at the city of Colombo in 1517 and gradually extended their control over the coastal areas and inland. 16th century, were largely concentrated on the Americas, not South and East Asia, but the Spanish did establish a footing in the Far East in the Philippines. Portugal over-extended, and vulnerable to competition from other Western European powers. Rival European powers began to make inroads in Asia as the Portuguese and Spanish trade in the Indian Ocean declined primarily because they had become hugely over-stretched financially due to the limitations on their investment capacity and contemporary naval technology.
Both of these factors worked in tandem, making control over Indian Ocean trade extremely expensive. The existing Portuguese interests in Asia proved sufficient to finance further colonial expansion and entrenchment in areas regarded as of greater strategic importance in Africa and Brazil. Portuguese maritime supremacy was lost to the Dutch in the 17th century, and with this came serious challenges for the Portuguese. Moro conflict and Castilian War inflamed religious tensions and turned Southeast Asia into an arena of conflict between Muslims and Christians.
The word “savages” in Spanish, cafres, was from the word “infidel” in Arabic – Kafir, and was used by the Spanish to refer to their own “christian savages” who were arrested in Brunei. In 1578 an attack was launched by the Spanish against Jolo, and in 1875 it was destroyed at their hands, and once again in 1974 it was destroyed by the Philippines. The Spanish first set foot on Borneo in Brunei. The Spanish war against Brunei failed to conquer Brunei but it totally cut off the Philippines from Brunei’s influence, the Spanish then started colonizing Mindanao and building fortresses. In response, the Bisayas, where Spanish forces were stationed, were subjected to retaliatory attacks by the Magindanao in 1599-1600 due to the Spanish attacks on Mindanao.
The Spanish were expelled from Brunei in 1579 after they attacked in 1578. There were half a hundred thousand inhabitants before the 1597 attack by the Spanish in Brunei. During first contact with China, numerous aggressions and provocations were undertaken by the Portuguese They believed they could mistreat the non-Christians because they themselves were Christians and acted in the name of their religion in committing crimes and atrocities. Dutch settlement in the East Indies. Portuguese decline in Asia was accelerated by the attacks on their commercial empire by the Dutch and the English, which began a global struggle over empire in Asia that lasted until the end of the Seven Years’ War in 1763. The Netherlands revolt against Spanish rule facilitated Dutch encroachment of the Portuguese monopoly over South and East Asian trade.