What were the motives of western expansion into Asia? 

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When Western countries started to expand into Asia via colonization, Western countries were motivated by economic factors and a desire for prestige and power.

When Western countries colonized Asia, they did so in part because they thought it would help them economically.  They wanted valuable goods like rubber and spices.  They also wanted captive markets in which to sell goods they had manufactured as they industrialized.  If they colonized Asian countries, they could be the only ones to benefit from those countries’ resources.  They could also be the only ones who were allowed to sell goods in those countries.  In these ways, taking an empire in Asia would help them economically.

Western countries also colonized in Asia because they wanted more prestige and power.  They wanted far-flung colonies so they could project their military power around the world.  For example, if the British controlled Hong Kong, they could base military ships there.  This would give them the ability to use those ships to project power in the South China Sea.  Naval power was very important in those days, and Asian colonies increased a country’s naval capabilities.  In addition, a country with colonies had more prestige.  A Western country with an empire in Asia would seem like it was an important country because it was big and strong enough to take and hold that empire.  Thus, expansion into Asia also helped countries in geopolitical terms.

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