Edited by Vai Io Lo and Mary Hiscock
The world has been dominated by the West since the eighteenth century, with the empires of the UK, France, Germany, Portugal and the Netherlands dividing up the resources of Asia amongst themselves. The genesis and continuation of such an imbalance in the world order is an intricate account of the economic, historical, political and social developments within individual countries or regions and between countries or regions. Even so a sketch of the global politico-economic history in the past two hundred years can put things into perspective. In the nineteenth century, owing to scientific and technological advances and the consequential military might, as well as economic prosperity resulting from industrialization, European countries were able to secure resources (such as tea, coffee and timber), open foreign markets (such as those in East Asia) and proselytize the Christian faith through colonization and warfare. The first half of the twentieth century was afflicted with wars. The two World Wars reduced the political hegemony of European countries as they were left with devastated economies, while the US emerged as a super power as a result of its recovery from the Great Depression, late participation in the Second World War and possession of atomic weapons. At the same time, some existing countries were plagued with civil wars (such as China and Korea); while newly independent or emergent countries were left with empty coffers and a group of inexperienced and inefficient low-level bureaucrats.