Imperialism in Asia

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Updated: Mar 14, 2023
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Category: Imperialism
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To a great extent, imperialism negatively affected the lives of colonized people because Britain caused the start of wars in India through constant racism, France forced the increase of rice production in Vietnam which led to famines, and the British smuggling opium in China resulted in the loss of land.

The people of India were hurt by the constant racism expressed towards them by the British which led to the Sepoy Mutiny. This was uprising in northern India, where the British and sepoy armies fought fiercely against each other.

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Britain had an economic interest in India because they could provide a lot of raw materials for British manufacturing. When the Mughal Dynasty collapsed, Britain took over and used indirect control to rule India, meaning that the majority of government positions would be given to Indians, but the highest positions would be given to British administrators. For example, the East India Company, a British company that lead power in India, had an army that consisted of sepoys, Indian soldiers, who were led by British officers. Over time, the racist attitude of many British officials and the increase of missionaries threatened traditional Indian life. As a result, many Indians resented the British and eventually a gossip spread among the sepoys. It was said that “the cartridges of their new Enfield rifles were greased with beef and pork fat” (History Textbook, 359). This outraged both Hindus and Muslims in the sepoy army because Hindus consider cows sacred and Muslims do not eat pork, but in order to use the cartridges, soldiers needed to bite off the ends, which meant putting it in their mouth. Many refused to accept the cartridges and those who refused were jailed. The following day, the sepoys rebelled along with other Indian soldiers in the uprising called the Sepoy Mutiny. Not only did the British regain control and rule the country after the rebellion, but it also resulted in the death of millions and fueled British racist attitudes.

The French forced the increase of rice production in Vietnam which hurt them by causing famines. Emperor Napoleon III invaded southern Vietnam with the French army, and shortly after, Laos, Cambodia, and northern Vietnam were added to the territory, creating French Indochina. By using direct colonial management, the French filled all the important positions in the government bureaucracy with their own people. Their demand for raw materials resulted in the increase of cash crops, such as rice, so “four times as much land than before was devoted to rice production” (History Textbook, 363). Although more rice was produced, the consumption of rice actually decreased since most of the rice was being exported. With the decrease of the consumption of rice without the substitution of any other foods, it soon resulted in a famine. The reduction of the consumption of rice angered the Vietnamese and would later lead to the resistance against the French.

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Imperialism in Asia. (2019, Jul 21). Retrieved from