Under colonial rule, local people were forced to work as slave labor on plantations, raising anger and criticism.
In the early 1800s, the rulers of Burma (present-day Myanmar) clashed with the British, who were expanding eastward from India. The Burmese misjudged British strength and suffered disastrous defeats in several wars. By 1886, Britain had annexed Burma. The Burmese, however, constantly resisted British rule.
At the same time, the British pushed south through the Malay Peninsula. The bustling port of Singapore grew up at the southern tip of the peninsula. Singapore stood on the sea route between the Indian Ocean and the China Sea. Soon, rubber and tin from Malaya, along with profits from Asian trade were flowing through Singapore to enrich Britain.
The French, meanwhile, were building an empire on the Southeast Asian mainland. Like other imperialist powers, they wanted political influence, raw materials, and markets in the region.
In the early 1800s, French missionaries began winning converts in what is today Vietnam. In response to growing Western influence, Vietnamese officials tried to suppress Christianity by killing converts and priests. The French used the murders as a reason to invade.
Like the Burmese, the Vietnamese misjudged European power. Starting in 1858, the French attacked and took over parts of Vietnam. The Vietnamese fought fiercely but could not withstand superior European firepower. The French eventually seized all of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. The West referred to these holdings as French Indochina.
The kingdom of Siam (present-day Thailand) lay between British-ruled Burma and French Indochina. Siam escaped becoming a European colony partly because its rulers did not underestimate Western power and avoided incidents that might provoke invasion.
Although the king of Siam, Mongkut (mahng KOOT), had to accept some unequal treaties, he set Siam on the road to modernization. He and his son, Chulalongkorn, who ruled from 1868 to 1910, reformed the government, modernized the army, and hired Western experts to train Thais in the new technology.
They abolished slavery and gave women some choice in marriage. Thai students traveled abroad and spread Western ways when they returned home. As Siam modernized, Chulalongkorn bargained to remove the unequal treaties.
Europeans sought to exploit the vast natural resources of Southeast Asia. According to the map, to which resources did the Dutch have exclusive access?