The origins of the Asian Cold War: Malaya 1948

Hack, Karl (2009). The origins of the Asian Cold War: Malaya 1948. Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 40(3) pp. 471–496.



From the 1970s most scholars have rejected the Cold War orthodoxy that the Malayan Emergency (1948–60) was a result of instructions from Moscow, translated into action by the Malayan Communist Party (MCP). They have instead argued that local factors precipitated violence, and that the MCP was relatively unprepared when the Emergency was declared. This article puts the international element back into the picture. It shows that the change from a ‘united front’ to a ‘two camp’ international communist line from 1947 played a significant role in deciding local debates in favour of revolt. It also demonstrates how the MCP had plans for a graduated build-up to armed revolt before an Emergency was declared. This article therefore offers a model for a dynamic, two-way relationship between the international and local levels of Cold War.

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