East Asian Studies Speaker Series with Professor Huei-Ying Kuo

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On March 27, Professor Huei-Ying Kuo from the Department of Sociology gave a presentation on Japan’s role as a colonial power in Taiwan and Southeast Asia. Professor Kuo is well known in the area of colonial empires and maritime East Asia and she has published many articles on Chinese nationalism in colonial Asia.

In her presentation, Professor Kuo explored the motivating force behind Japan’s colonial expansion and explained the difficulties that Japan faced in its quest for new territories. She argued that Pan-Asianism and the desire to preserve the Confucian identity were the reasons why Japan sought to defend China from Western imperialists. Professor Kuo stated that, “Japan could not survive without the revival of China”.

She also pointed out that Japan’s rule in Taiwan was precarious due to its futile attempt to use Taiwan as a means to appease overseas Chinese and vanquish Chinese nationalism. Despite Japan’s continued efforts to connect with overseas Hokkien Chinese in Southeast Asia through Hokkien Taiwanese, Hokkien merchants in southern seas ended up boycotting commodities not only from Japan but also from Taiwan. Taiwan’s export to Hong Kong and Singapore also saw a significant decline. “It was almost impossible for Japan to expand trade in Asia when Chinese nationalism was strong in the period of 1932 and 1934,” Professor Kuo concluded.

The event was hosted by the East Asian Studies Student Advisory Committee and took place in Mergenthaler 266. The presentation lasted for an hour, following by an insightful discussion and a delicious dinner.