06 August 2012

External Intervention and the Politics of State Formation – China, Indonesia, and Thailand, 1893–1952

Ja Ian Chong, External Intervention and the Politics of State Formation – China, Indonesia, and Thailand, 1893–1952 (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2012).

From the Publisher: This book explores ways foreign intervention and external rivalries can affect the institutionalization of governance in weak states. When sufficiently competitive, foreign rivalries in a weak state can actually foster the political centralization, territoriality and autonomy associated with state sovereignty. This counterintuitive finding comes from studying the collective effects of foreign contestation over a weak state as informed by changes in the expected opportunity cost of intervention for outside actors. When interveners associate high opportunity costs with intervention, they bolster sovereign statehood as a next best alternative to their worst fear – domination of that polity by adversaries. Sovereign statehood develops if foreign actors concurrently and consistently behave this way toward a weak state. This book evaluates that argument against three ‘least likely’ cases – China, Indonesia and Thailand between the late nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries.

In examining the multifaceted relationships between indigenous groups and foreign actors in weak states, the book as well expands research on nationalism and collaboration. By investigating local complicity in external attempts at shaping political dynamics in fragile polities, the author highlights a common phenomenon in cases of outside intervention and state creation that deserves more systematic analysis than it is presently the case. In underlining conditions under which local and foreign actors cooperate, the book improves understandings about the nature and limits of nationalism in China, East Asia, and elsewhere.

Research for the book draws extensively on primary archival material and secondary research. It will be of interest to specialists, students, and serious general readers in several fields. These include international relations, comparative politics, political sociology, security, intervention, state-building, as well as modern Chinese and Asian politics and history.

Dr. Ja Ian Chong (莊嘉穎) is assistant professor of political science at the National University of Singapore and an Asia Studies Fellow with the East-West Centre in Washington, DC. His current research examines how efforts by individual non-leading powers to safeguard their interests during periods of power transition may collectively affect regional order. He is also working on projects relating to alliance commitment problems following political liberalisation and the application of historiographical methods to international relations research on contemporary Asia. Dr. Chong’s work crosses the fields of international relations, comparative politics, political sociology, and history, with a focus on security issues in China and East Asia. He is author of External Intervention and the Politics of State Formation: China, Thailand, Indonesia – 1893 – 1952, Cambridge University Press, 2012.

Dr. Chong was a Princeton-Harvard China and the World Programme post-doctoral fellow and previously worked with the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies in Singapore, the East Asian Institute at the National University of Singapore, and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. His English- and Chinese-language publications have appeared in Asian Affairs, China Review International, China Quarterly, the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies Working Paper Series, Journal of East Asian Studies, Security Studies, Twentieth Century China as well as a number of edited volumes and newspapers. He holds Bachelors and Masters degrees from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. His Ph.D. in politics is from Princeton University.

Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations  vii

Acknowledgements  ix

1             Moulding the Institutions of Governance: Theories of State Formation and the Contingency of Sovereignty in Fragile Polities  1

2             Imposing States: Foreign Rivalries, Local Collaboration, and State Form in Peripheral Polities  27

3             Feudalising the Chinese Polity, 1893–1922: Assessing the Adequacy of Alternative Takes on State Reorganisation  46

4             External Influence and China’s Feudalisation, 1893–1922: Opportunity Costs and Patterns of Foreign Intervention  75

5             The Evolution of Foreign Involvement in China, 1923–1952: Rising Opportunity Costs and Convergent Approaches to Intervention  112

6             How Intervention Remade the Chinese State, 1923–1952: Foreign Sponsorship and the Building of Sovereign China  151

7             Creating Indonesia, 1893–1952: Major Power Rivalry and the Making of Sovereign Statehood  173

8             Siam Stands Apart, 1893–1952: External Intervention and Rise of a Sovereign Thai State  200

9             Domesticating International Relations, Externalising Comparative Politics: Foreign Intervention and the State in World Politics  224

Appendix: Questions for Focused, Structured Comparisons  237

References  239