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Web-only Exclusives
November 30, 2000

From Our Correspondent: Hirohito and the War
A conversation with biographer Herbert Bix

From Our Correspondent: A Rough Road Ahead
Bad news for the Philippines - and some others

From Our Correspondent: Making Enemies
Indonesia needs friends. So why is it picking fights?

Asiaweek Time Asia Now Asiaweek story

Week of December 8, 1995

Pearl Harbor: December 7, 1941

Seeking to build an Asian "Co-prosperity Sphere" and wrest Southeast Asia from Western powers for its own ends, Japan's expansionism had been evident since 1931. On this Sunday morning, 360 Japanese aircraft attacked the U.S. naval base in Oahu, Hawaii, leaving the U.S. Pacific fleet crippled. The next day, Japanese attacks on Hong Kong, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore drew the world into a four-year war that enveloped the region. Japan only accepted defeat after the terrible power of atomic weaponry was unleashed. By the end of World War II, at least 40 million people had lost their lives on both the European and Asian fronts. Asia began to shed its colonial rulers, ultimately emerging as an economic powerhouse.


Week of December 1, 1995

Port Arthur: December 5, 1904

After a nineday attack, Japanese troops finally overran Russian forces at Port Arthur, winning a strategic battle that almost totally destroyed the Czar's fleet and led to victory in the RussoJapanese war. The onslaught pitted Japan's superior navy against Russia's determination to keep its only yeararound icefree harbor on the Pacific. Russian blundering, freezing conditions and the long route to the harbor gave the Japanese a tactical advantage, but the siege cost them 11,000 of their troops. The 1905 Treaty of Portsmouth transferred the city to the Japanese. Since 206 BC, Port Arthur has been controlled by Chinese, Manchu, Japanese and Russian forces. Today, it is a Chinese naval base called Lushun, an important commercial center.


Week of November 24, 1995

Cape of Good Hope: Nov. 22, 1497

On his way to India to establish trade and claim land for Portugal, Vasco da Gama rounded the South African cape on a journey marking a new era in world history. Da Gama left Lisbon in July with a fleet of four ships loaded with supplies and stone padröes (pillars) and reached Calicut, in southwest India, where he erected a padräo to mark his arrival. Unable to establish trade links in Calicut, he left with a load of spices and several Indians, so the King of Portugal might learn about their customs. Scurvy killed many of his crew, but he made two more journeys, leading to the establishment of Portuguese power in Goa. At age 64, on his third journey, da Gama died in Cochin. His body was returned to Portugal fourteen years later.


Week of November 17, 1995

Beijing: November 19, 1978

The first big-character posters went up on a brick barrier near Beijing's Forbidden City, and the Democracy Wall was born. For the first time in the history of the People's Republic of China, ordinary citizens were airing their opinions on political subjects without official sanction. The wall was used for complaints ranging from bad housing to the absence of popular elections. Deng Xiaoping tolerated the criticism, seeing it as an asset in his power struggle with Mao's heir, Hua Guofeng. After defeating Hua, Deng cracked down and cleaned up Democracy Wall. He also arrested Wei Jingsheng, the most provocative of the billboard scribes. By April 1979 the shortlived democracy movement was over.


Week of November 10, 1995

Berlin: November 9, 1989

After dividing the city for 28 years, the Berlin Wall was besieged by a joyous, chisel-wielding crowd and later entire sections were bulldozed to the ground. Earlier the East Berlin Communist party boss had announced that East Germans were free to move beyond the country's borders, even through the check points along the Wall if they wanted. West Berlin pub-goers streamed out to greet the first arrivals with a celebratory drink; West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl traveled from Poland to join the festivities. Communist rule had cracked.


Week of November 3, 1995

Valley of the Kings: November 4, 1922

Searching through the extensive burial grounds of Egyptian kings, the British archeologist Howard Carter found the tomb of Tutankhamen. Although King Tut was a minor sovereign who died at age 18, the discovery of his resting place was one of the century's most celebrated archeological finds. Tut's tomb had remained undisturbed for more than 3,000 years and was virtually intact. Filled with invaluable solid gold artifacts, the sepulcher took 10 years to clear. After an international tour, the exhibit now resides at the Cairo Museum.


Week of October 27, 1995

Seoul: October 27,1979

The news stunned the nation. South Korean president Park Chung Hee had been shot dead during a row at a small dinner party. His killer was longtime friend and adviser Kim Jae Kyu, head of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency. Fears of a North Korean invasion followed, and all 39,000 U.S. troops stationed in the south were put on alert. Nothing happened. Park's 18-year rule was marked by suppression. But he is also credited with transforming South Korea from a poor rural nation to a leading exporter of automobiles and appliances.


Week of October 20, 1995

Yanan: October 20, 1935

One year and 9,500 km after it had begun, the chang zheng, or Long March, ended in a small town in China's Shaanxi province. Trapped by Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist forces in the southeast, 85,000 Red Army soldiers had broken through a weak point in the Kuomin-tang's lines and fled from Ruijin, first westward and then to the north. Walking an average of 27 km a day through an obstacle course of barren mountains and swampy basins, the communists endured extreme temperatures, hunger, disease and enemy attacks. About 8,000 survived.


Week of October 13, 1995

Tokyo: October 12, 1980

With a single stroke, Oh Sadaharu became the biggest home-run hitter in Japanese baseball history when he struck a record 868th run against the Yakult Swallows. Oh started out as a first baseman in Japan's Central League. But his batting scores were average until he adopted a leg-lifting stance used by some American players. After beating New York Giant Henry Aaron's record, Oh was awarded Japan's National Hero Honors Order, the first of its kind. His 868th home run was Oh's last. He retired soon after to manage his home team, the Yomiuri Giants.


Week of October 6, 1995

Nanjing: October 8, 1928

Head of the Kuomintang, Chiang Kai-shek was elected chairman of China's Nationalist government, so finally taking over the lead ership from the late Sun Yat-sen. A protg of the democracy advocate, Chiang mistakenly put off tackling the threat of Japanese aggression. The rival Communists, meanwhile, gained wide support as a corruption-free alternative to Chiang's ruling party. Unable to settle on a coalition with Communist leader Mao Zedong, Chiang pursued civil war. Beaten, he withdrew to Taiwan in 1949, a year after becoming the Republic of China's first president.


Week of September 29, 1995

Jakarta: September 30, 1965

It began with the brutal murders of six army generals. But when a five-year-old girl was fatally wounded, the public's anger ignited against the Communists' plan to overthrow President Sukarno. Left off their hit-list, General Suharto directed a harsh purge that led to widespread violence. By mid-October the Communist Party was banned and martial law was imposed to stub out the threat of civil war. Suharto prevailed, but at the cost of some 500,000 lives. The next year he seized the presidential crown, ruling the sprawling archipelago of Indonesia ever since.


Week of September 22, 1995

Uganda: September 22, 1972

South Asians were given just 48 hours to leave Uganda by its tyrannical President Idi Amin. Claiming African Ugandans had been "milked white" by the Asian population, Amin revoked work permits and trading licenses, stationing security forces across the country to ensure the expulsion was carried out. Those who stayed were forced to work as rural laborers. A shocked international community provided flights and camps for the refugees, many of whom settled in Britain. Aside from shattering lives, Amin's act plunged the country into economic turmoil.


Week of September 15, 1995

Wellington: September 19, 1893

New Zealand's women became the first in the world to win the right to vote, setting a precedent for women world-wide. First raised in 1869, women's suffrage took nearly 25 years and three petitions before it became law. The suffragettes insisted the freedom to vote should be based on human rights, not property ownership. The right they won was first exercised on Nov. 28 when 85% of the female electorate went to the polls. Australia followed New Zealand's lead. But it was 40 years before another country - Thailand - granted women the vote.


Week of September 8, 1995

Christmas Island: Sept. 15, 1958

Britain peacefully transferred administration over this tiny (135 sq km) dot in the Indian Ocean to Australia, ending 70 years of Brit ish annexation. Sighted by English mariners on Christmas Day in 1643, the island was ignored for 250 years until its rich phosphate stores were discovered. Chinese and Malays extracted the stuff, required in fertilizer production. Today, the islet is home to a casino resort that offers high-rollers a free flight home if they spend $1 million. October 1, Territory Day, marks the official transfer and is celebrated by the island's 1,000-odd residents.


Week of September 1, 1995

Nanjing: August 29, 1842

Who would have thought a drunken brawl could result in a treaty ceding Hong Kong to Britain? The simmering fury among lo cals at the English sneaking opium into China boiled over when a villager in Kowloon died during a scuffle with inebriated English sailors. Angry at Britain's refusal to hand over a suspect, the Chinese attacked its fleet. The first Opium War began. After two British warships sailed up the Yangzi to threaten Nanjing, the Chinese resentfully signed the Treaty of Nanjing, which set the tone for Sino-British relations over the next 150 years.


Week of August 25, 1995

Kalikata: August 24, 1690

When Job Charnock sailed up the mouths of the Ganges, he found a sleepy fishing town. Its name - field of Kali, Hindu goddess of destruction - was more awesome than its tiny population. But the British East India Company chief thought it would make a prime trading post. A century later, "Calcutta" became the political and commercial capital of the British Raj. Despite its now-legendary poverty, the city is still considered India's intellectual and artistic seat. Its citizens' penchant for iconoclastic, radical ideologies keeps to the character of its patroness.


Week of August 18, 1995

Gansu: August 18, 1227

Across the steppes he galloped, on his way to crush yet another rebellion. Then his mount suddenly reared, losing its rider. In his younger years, a fall was nothing. But by the day's end, Genghis Khan, self-proclaimed Universal Ruler, had dictated his last testament and died. With brutal force, he had conquered a hundred peoples and claimed an empire that stretched from the Yellow to the Black Seas. His men carried his corpse to a treasure-stocked burial place, then slaughtered all witnesses. The Great Khan's death was to be a secret to avoid political unrest.


Week of August 11, 1995

Jordan: August 11, 1952

The queen had fled her husband's schizophrenia months earlier to hide with her young son in Switzerland. But on this day in Jordan's capital, the son would become king. The nation's prime minister stood before parliament to officially announce what the queen already knew: after 10 months, King Talal was too sick to rule. Parliament wished the king a speedy recovery and elevated Crown Prince Hussein to the throne. At age 17, the young man would show the survival skills that have stood him well in the tumultuous years since.


Week of July 28, 1995

KUALA LUMPUR: JULY 31, 1960

After 12 years of fighting, the British declared the "Emergency" over in the Federation of Malay States. The Malayan Communist Party had disrupted rubber planting and tin mining, assassinated European and Chinese business leaders, attacked security forces and eventually retreated to the jungles, where they continued to wage guerrilla war. The government fought back by moving farmers into special "New Villages,"depriving the rebels of rural support. It was not until 1989 that a formal peace agreement was signed with the Malaysian authorities.


Week of July 21, 1995

TRANQUILLITY BASE: JULY 21, 1969

Neil Armstrong stepped from the landing module on to the Moon's surface and uttered the words heard by 600 million people: "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind." Then he planted the Stars and Stripes and collected some moon rocks to take back to earth. It was the culmination of a challenge posed by President John F. Kennedy when the Russians were going from one space triumph to another. Now Americans and Russians are cooperating, having only recently linked their orbiters in the first step toward a joint space station.


Week of July 14, 1995

COLOMBO: JULY 21, 1960

Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike became the world's first female head of government. She entered politics by appealing to voters to continue the work of her husband, killed by an assassin's bullet. Her government's adoption of a constitution which made Sinhalese the national language and gave special prominence to Buddhism helped set the stage for the current civil war. She held office until 1965 and then from 1970-1977. Her daughter is the current president, Chandrika Kumaratunga,and women leaders are far from being uncommon on the subcontinent.


Week of July 07, 1995

AUCKLAND: JULY 10, 1985

The Rainbow Warrior was getting ready to lead the anti-nuke demonstration from Auckland Harbor when two explosions near the engine room shook the ship. Water rushed in from a huge hole torn in the hull of the converted fishing trawler. A Greenpeace photographer was killed. The subsequent investigation pointed to the French government, which was to have been the target of the protest because of its nuclear weapons testing. France's defense minister and its secret service chief resigned over the affair, and two agents directly responsible were convicted.


Week of June 30, 1995

MARCO POLO BRIDGE: JULY 7, 1937

Japanese troops first discovered the soldier missing during routine night maneuvers. They went to nearby Wanping and demanded answers from residents. Not satisfied with that, the soldiers insisted on searching the town for their comrade. The Chinese refused to let them. By that time, the situation had deteriorated so much that even when the soldier was recovered, it was too late. The Japanese bombarded the town anyway. Eventually, flighting spread to Beijing and south. Japan's conquest of China, which eventually expanded into World War II, was underway.


Week of June 23, 1995

BANGKOK: JUNE 24, 1932

The bloodless coup had actually begun a day earlier. While the king was away at his summer palace in southern Thailand, the conspirators cut phone lines to houses of his senior advisers. When all was prepared, the group of young bureaucrats and junior military officers, led by Pridi Banomyong, moved on the advisers and rounded them up in the Throne Hall. Pridi wrote a strongly anti-royalist declaration to the people, though he later apologized to King Prajadhipok and, probably avoiding bloodshed, convinced the king to become a constitutional monarch.


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