Mao and the Communists took control of China and turned it into a military power. India split into three countries—India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Japan and the "Asian Tigers" became economic powerhouses. Australia and New Zealand have drawn closer to Asia.
Section 1 Communist China
Chinese Communists defeated the Nationalists in 1949, and Chiang Kai-shek and his supporters fled to Taiwan to set up their own government. Under Mao Zedong's disastrous Great Leap Forward program, vast communes were formed to boost farm production. Instead, millions of people starved. During the Proletarian Cultural Revolution, Mao tried to wipe out old ways and ideas. Reformers, led by Deng Xiaoping, seized power after Mao's death, ended the revolution, and turned to modernization. Fears of Communist expansion led to the Korean War, in which Chinese troops and United Nations troops (mainly American) clashed. Tensions between China and the Soviet Union led to ties between the United States and China in the early 1970s. Growing discontentment with Chinese Communist rule has created pockets of dissent in recent years, while Western nations have worried over China's military strength. China joined the World Trade Organization in 2002.
Section 2 Independent States in South and Southeast Asia
After World War II, the Indian National Congress governed India. Despite its hard-fought independence, the country's progress was stifled by bitter divisions along ethnic and religious lines. India experienced an industrial boom, but population growth, poverty, and ethnic tensions have become growing problems. After a brief civil war, East Pakistan became the state of Bangladesh. Both Pakistan and Bangladesh are poor and politically unstable. Southeast Asian colonies gradually gained independence. France reluctantly allowed the creation of a Communist North Vietnam and a non-Communist South Vietnam. After French withdrawal, American troops were involved in a protracted war. After the United States withdrew, the Communists unified Vietnam. Communists seized power in Laos and Cambodia, but U.S. fears of "falling dominoes" were not realized. Despite setbacks in the 1950s, many Southeast Asian societies are moving toward democracy. An uprising in the Philippines overthrew corrupt president Ferdinand Marcos in the 1980s. In 2001 Filipino president Gloria Arroyo took office, promising a renewed integrity in the government.
Section 3 Japan and the Pacific
An American occupying force remodeled many aspects of Japanese society along Western lines to discourage a resurgence of Japanese militarism. The newly democratic Japan emerged as a giant economic power. In 2000, Japan's gross national product was greater than those of Great Britain and France combined. The "Asian Tigers"—South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, and Hong Kong—have also been economic success stories. Authoritarian rule has given way to democracy in all but Singapore. Taiwan is home to the Republic of China, founded by Chiang Kai-shek after the Communist victory in mainland China. Australia and New Zealand have long identified themselves with Europe. Both are military allies of the United States. However, recent trends in trade and immigration have drawn them closer to Asia.