Around the time of the final overthrow of the Mongol Empire, the plague had spread throughout the Eurasian Continent (see William McNeill, Plagues and Peoples) and the medicines believed to be most effective against this disease were the pepper and spices produced in Southeast Asia.
In the maritime world of Southeast Asia, the period from the fifteenth to the seventeenth centuries became an _age of commerce_ during which countless merchants and traders brought in goods from the Arab-Islamic, Hindu and Chinese civilizations, among others. Southeast Asia was thus the prototype of the modern global economy. The eventual participation of European and Japanese merchants in this trade heralded the appearance of Europe and Japan on the stage of world history. Let us take another look at these historical developments from the standpoint of Southeast Asia.
(3) Southeast Asia
The Region known as _Southeast Asia_
After World War II, Southeast Asia was one of the regions studied by the United States as part of its global strategy, but it was only a few years ago that a compilation of research on Southeast Asia by Japanese scholars was published in ten volumes under the title Studies on Southeast Asia (1990_1992).
The region was first referred to as Southeast Asia in the twentieth century. The first use of this name in the Western academic world was in the book Ancient Bronze Drums of Southeast Asia??, published in 1902. (Ishii Yoneo, editor, The History of Southeast Asia, Kobundo). In Japan, this region, formerly referred to as the _South Seas_ was included as part of Asia and called Southeast Asia for the first time in Volume 2 of Elementary School Geography published in 1919. (Shimizu Hajime??, _The Establishment of the Concept of Southeast Asiain Modern Japan_ in Asian Economics, Vol. 28, No. 7.)
Apart from Thailand, the countries of Southeast Asia make their appearance in world history in the second half of the nineteenth century as sources of products such as rubber and tin under the colonial rule of Western nations. Today_s Newly Industrializing Economies (NIEs: Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore), with the exception of Korea, are currently dominated by people of Chinese origin who have been the driving force behind Asia_s economic development. Most of them are descended from Chinese who, no longer able to make a living in their own country, left their villages and worked as coolies throughout Southeast Asia and the China Sea region at the end of the nineteenth century. The generally accepted view is that the countries of Southeast Asia, and these Chinese living overseas, first strode onto the stage of world history no more than 100 years ago.
Malacca - A Major Center of International Trade
The region now known as Southeast Asia existed before the 20th century, but not in the same sense that America existed before the arrival of the Europeans. The American continent made its first appearance in world history after its discovery by Christopher Columbus, but the Southeast Asian region already exerted a profound influence on the surrounding regions before the Europeans came. It can even be viewed as the prototype of the free trade world created by Europe.
In his Suma Oriental que trata do Maar Roxo eteos Chins (_The Suma Oriental from the Red Sea to China_), the merchant adventurer Tom_Pires marveled at the vast variety of peoples who engaged in trade in Malacca,
_Moors from Cairo, Mecca, Aden, Abyssinians, men of Kilwa, Malindi, and Ormuz, Parsees, Rumes, Turks, Turkomans, Christian Armenians, Gujartees, men of Chaul, Dabhol, Goa, of the Kingdom of Deccan, Malabars and Klings, merchants from Orissa, Ceylon, Bengal, Arakan, Pegu, Siamese, men of Kedah, Malays, men of Pahang, Patani, Cambodia, Champa, Cochin China, Chinese, Lequeos, men of Brunei, Lucoes, men of Tamjompura, Laue, Banka, Linga (they have a thousand other islands), Moluccas, Banka, Bima, Timor, Madura, Java, Sunda, Palmenbang, Jambi, Tongkal, Indragiri, Kappata, Menangkabau, Siak, Arqua, Aru, Bata, country of the Tomjano, Pase, Pedir, Maidives._