In the end, both Britain and France saw the advantage of making Siam a buffer, or neutral zone, between them. In the early 1900s, they guaranteed its independence. But to prevent other imperialist powers from pushing into Siam, each set up its own sphere of influence there.
By the 1890s, Europeans controlled most of Southeast Asia. They introduced modern technology and expanded commerce and industry. Europeans directed the mining of tin, the harvesting of rubber, and the building of harbors and railroads. But these changes benefited the European colonizers far more than they did the Southeast Asians.
How did the Burmese and the Vietnamese respond to colonization attempts?
During the Spanish-American War, the U.S. Navy destroyed Spanish ships in the Battle of Manila Bay in the Philippines.
In the 1500s, Spain had seized the Philippines and extended its rule over the islands. Catholic missionaries spread Christianity among the Filipinos and the Catholic Church gained enormous power and wealth. Many Filipinos accused the Church of abusing its position. By the late 1800s, their anger fueled strong resistance to Spanish rule.
Leaders like José Rizal, a doctor who had studied abroad, called on Filipinos to use nonviolent means to win reforms. Although captured and executed by the Spanish, Rizal continued to inspire Filipinos eager to free their country from foreign rule.
The United States became involved in the Philippines almost by accident. In 1898, war broke out between Spain and the United States over Cuba's effort to win independence from Spain. During the Spanish-American War, American battleships destroyed the Spanish fleet, which was stationed in the Philippines.
Seizing the moment, Filipino leaders declared independence from Spain. Rebel soldiers threw their support into the fight against Spanish troops. In return for their help, the Filipino rebels expected the United States to recognize their independence. Instead, the peace settlement with Spain placed the Philippines under American control.
Bitterly disappointed, Filipino nationalists renewed their struggle. From 1899 to 1901, Filipinos led by Emilio Aguinaldo (ah gee NAHL doh) battled American forces. Thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Filipinos died. In the end, the Americans crushed the rebellion. The United States set out to modernize the Philippines, promising Filipinos self-rule some time in the future.
How did the United States gain control of the Philippines?
In the 1800s, the industrialized powers began to take an interest in the islands of the Pacific. The thousands of islands splashed across the Pacific include the three regions of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia.
At first, American, French, and British whaling and sealing ships looked for bases to take on supplies while they were operating in the Pacific. Missionaries, too, moved into the region and opened the way for political involvement.