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Britain and regional cooperation in South-East Asia, 1945-1949.

Remme, Tilman (1990) Britain and regional cooperation in South-East Asia, 1945-1949. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science (United Kingdom).

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Abstract

This thesis examines efforts by the British Foreign Office between 1945 and 1949 to establish an international, yet British-led, regional system in South-East Asia, initially on the economic level but eventually including political and defence cooperation as well. Part 1 looks at vain efforts by the Foreign Office in 1945 to use South East Asia Command (SEAC) under Lord Mountbatten as the basis for an international regional commission. It then examines the Foreign Office's appointment in 1946 of Lord Killearn as Special Commissioner in Singapore, and it highlights British hopes that the Special Commission, which organised international action against the acute shortage of rice in the region, would one day become the nucleus for a wider regional organisation. Part 2 looks at the impact of Asian nationalism on British regional policies. By February 1947, the Foreign Office contemplated the eventual inclusion of India and of other fledgling Asian states in its regional plans. Part 3 shows the subsequent decline of the Special Commission after London's decision on financial grounds to merge the organisation with the office of the Malayan Governor-General. It also examines competition by Australia, India and the UN in trying to take the lead on regional cooperation, and it shows how British policies were negatively affected by the hardline policies of France and the Netherlands in their respective South-East Asian colonies. Part 4 looks at the revival of British regional plans towards the end of 1948 following the Malayan Emergency. The Foreign Office convinced the rest of Whitehall of trying to organise regional cooperation as a means of containing communism in South-East Asia. At the same time, it launched a diplomatic offensive to secure Asian cooperation and American financial backing for its regional plans. The thesis ends in November 1949 with the Cabinet's adoption of regional cooperation as official British policy, paving the way for the Colombo Conference in January 1950 and the subsequent Colombo Plan. One of the recurring themes of the thesis is the conflict between the Foreign Office and the Colonial Office over regional policies; another one is the Foreign Office's shift from colonial cooperation concepts to the idea of cooperating primarily with the new Asian states.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Political Science, International Relations, South Asian Studies, History, Asia, Australia and Oceania
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/1138

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