JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - What does ZOPFAN stand for - JC History Essay Notes

What does ZOPFAN stand for?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]:
Paper 2: Regional Conflicts and Co-operation
Source Based Case Study
Theme III Chapter 2: ASEAN (Growth and Development of ASEAN: Building regional peace and security – relations between ASEAN and external powers)

Topic of Study [For H1 History Students]:
Essay Questions
Theme II Chapter 2: The Cold War and Southeast Asia (1945-1991): ASEAN and the Cold War (ASEAN’s responses to Cold War bipolarity)

Background: How ZOPFAN was formed?
In the early 1970s, there were several notable events that took place. First, the Western powers (USA and UK) declared their position to reduce their military presence in Southeast Asia. The British announced its withdrawal of forces in 1971. Similarly, the departure of the US troops led to the fall of Saigon in 1975 during the Second Indochina War.

As such, the Communist powers (PRC and USSR) benefited from these developments. For instance, there was increased Chinese support for the communist forces in Vietnam. Besides, the signing of the Shanghai Communique between USA and PRC expanded the latter’s opportunities to assert its influence more extensively in the region.

Some member nations of ASEAN were alarmed by the growing communist threat. During the Non-Aligned Conference of 1970, Malaysia proposed a policy of ‘neutralisation’. This meant that ASEAN should reject external interference, particularly the Cold War bipolarity, in order to protect its regional security and sovereign rights.

Although there were differing interpretations of Malaysia’s suggestions, ASEAN eventually formalized it in the concept known as the Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality (ZOPFAN).

The Mechanism: How did ZOPFAN work?
On 27 November 1971, the ZOPFAN was established during the Special ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. ZOPFAN functioned as a political declaration to prevent external interference and encourage regional cooperation among ASEAN members.


1. That Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand are determined to exert initially necessary efforts to secure the recognition of, and respect for, South East Asia as a Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality, free from any form or manner of interference by outside Powers;

2. That South East Asian countries should make concerted efforts to broaden the areas of cooperation which would contribute to their strength, solidarity and closer relationship.

Declaration of Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality (ZOPFAN), 27 Nov 1971

Arguably, the ZOPFAN was a display of regional unity as member states could come to a consensus on their interactions with external powers. For instance, Indonesia advocated regional cooperation within ASEAN and disregarded external involvement. Contrastingly, Singapore sought external support for security and economic reasons due to its vulnerable position geographically.

Application: Putting ZOPFAN to the test?
Although ZOPFAN was created to declare ASEAN’s position on external interference, compliance by non-ASEAN parties was difficult. The Third Indochina War of 1978 was a clear example to support this observation. From Vietnam’s perspective, they perceived ZOPFAN as an extension of Western influence and refused to cooperate.

Following the defeat in 1975 during the Second Indochina War, the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia alarmed member nations of ASEAN, especially Thailand. Political observers pointed out that this occupation may result in the expansion of communist influence beyond Indochina, possibly towards the rest of Southeast Asia.

Furthermore, some of the ASEAN members supported the internationalisation of the conflict, in which the United Nations was being requested to call for Vietnam’s withdrawal from Cambodia in 1979.

In conclusion, it is imperative to consider the international circumstances and political considerations of member nations in ASEAN to understand the strengths and limitations of ZOPFAN.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the effectiveness of ZOPFAN in explaining ASEAN’s responses to the Cold War bipolarity [to be discussed in class].

Now that you have considered the functions of ZOPFAN, you can apply your content in essay and source-based case study questions. Alternatively, you can sign up for JC History Tuition. Our classes are focused on content enrichment and the refinement of thinking and writing skills. In addition, you can join other JC tuition classes, like GP Tuition, Economics Tuition, JC Chemistry Tuition, JC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to find out more.

JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - How was Singapore's Foreign Policy during the Cold War - JC History Essay Notes

How was Singapore’s Foreign Policy during the Cold War?

Topic of Study [For H1 History Students]: 
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme II: Cold War in Asia [1945-1991] – Singapore’s Foreign Policy during the Cold War (1945-1991)

Learn more about Singapore’s Foreign Policy to understand how various challenges are addressed at the international level.

Foreign Policy and Singapore
By definition, ‘foreign policy’ is known as a government’s approach in dealing with other countries. Foreign policies are implemented by governments in response to various challenges at the bilateral or international level. In 2017, there was a controversial debate over how Singapore, as a small state, should conduct its foreign policy.

In this article, we will be examining how Singapore’s foreign policy was influenced by two major considerations: Survival and Realism

1. Perceived vulnerability: The concept of Survival
From the outset, when Singapore achieved independence in 1965, its political leaders held a firm belief that ‘survival’ was of paramount importance to the development of this new nation.

Given the lack of natural resources and its small geographical size, Singapore had to promote economic cooperation with other countries, including its neighbours, to advance its economy. The government capitalised on the strategic location of Singapore to facilitate international trade. Additionally, the heavy emphasis on state-guided industrialisation contributed to the entry of multi-national corporations (MNCs) that aided in job creation for the locals. Therefore, economic progress became one of the fundamental aims to ensure the survival of the Republic.

From the security viewpoint, there were external threats that endangered Singapore’s survival. As such, Singapore forged firm diplomatic ties with its neighbouring countries as well as Great Powers.

On 8 August 1967, Singapore was one of the founding members that signed the Bangkok Declaration, which formalised the establishment of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). With this regional organisation, inter-state cooperation was encouraged, thereby strengthening diplomatic ties between Singapore and other member nations. Given that there were inter-state tensions in the region, such as the Konfrontasi, that strained political ties, the ASEAN Way was a critical mechanism to alleviate tensions and maintain amicable relations.

More importantly, the Cold War had spread to Southeast Asia by the 1960s, as seen by the outbreak of the Second and Third Indochina Wars. In anticipation of these ideological challenges, Singapore established diplomatic ties with Great Powers, such as USA, to prevent communist expansion that might create political instability.

However, Singapore did not publicly declare its diplomatic position towards USA due to contrasting perceptions held by other ASEAN members relating to the reliance of Great Power support until the late 1980s.

2. The concept of Realism
The second principle that shaped Singapore’s foreign policy involved ‘Realism’, which explains that states are driven by their pursuit of national interests. The assumption is based on the notion that the international order is chaotic and conflicts are highly likely. In this case, survival is one of the many national interests pursued by Singapore.

In addition, the preservation of Singapore’s sovereignty was prioritised throughout the Cold War. One notable event was the Third Indochina War, in which the foreign occupation of Cambodia was perceived by Singapore as an outright violation of the international law. As such, its foreign policy led to the frequent lobbying at the United Nations to galvanise member nations into action, particularly the International Conference on Kampuchea (ICK) of July 1981.

What’s Next?
In the next article, we will analyse Singapore’s foreign policy responses to the Second and Third Indochina Wars to understand its effectiveness.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that Singapore’s foreign policy during the Cold War was largely shaped by realism? [to be discussed in class]

Now that you have covered the contributing factors that influenced the foreign policy of Singapore during the Cold War, it is imperative that you attempt H1 History essay questions to assess your knowledge application skills. On a separate but related note, you can consider registering for our JC History Tuition. You will receive organised summary notes, undergo enriching skills-based writing workshops and engage in thought-provoking topical discussions.

Besides, you can sign up for our JC tuition, such as GP Tuition, Economics Tuition, JC Chemistry Tuition, JC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we offer Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to learn more.

JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - How were Sino-American Relations - JC History Essay Notes

How were Sino-American relations during the Cold War?

Topic of Study [For H1 History Students]: 
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme II: Cold War in Asia [1945-1991] – Superpower relations with China (1950-1979): Sino-Soviet relations

Examine how Nixon’s historic visit to Beijing, China have changed the Sino-American relations in the 1970s.

Superpower Relations with China in the 1950s and 1960s
Following the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) victory during the Chinese Civil War in 1949, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was established. In view of the Cold War climate, the perceived ideological threat in East Asia, USA did not recognise this historical development.

At the same time, the Republic of China (i.e. ROC or Taiwan) was formed, which became a focal point of dispute between the United States and PRC. For instance, ROC was granted one of the Permanent Five (P5) seats in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). Notably, the Soviet Union, an ally of PRC, boycotted the UNSC meeting during the Korean War, as a form of protest against this matter.

The absence of diplomatic ties between the two countries was arguably of no surprise to political observers.

Taiwan Straits Crises
In the 1950s, US foreign policy was focused on Taiwan as a pivot for containment in Asia. The Seventh Fleet was situated in the vicinity to protect the security interests of Taiwan from potential threats.

On 11 August 1954, PRC launched an offensive against Kinmen and Matsu. In response, the Eisenhower administration perceived this as an act of military aggression, possibly occupation. As such, the Sino-American Mutual Defense Treaty was signed in December 1954, which assured ROC that the US would provide military support should the former come under attack. This Treaty later shaped US policy of containment in East Asia till 1979.

In August 1957, the “Second Taiwan Straits Crisis” occurred, in which Kinmen and Matsu were shelled and a naval confrontation took place between ROC and PRC. Eventually, the heightened tensions had de-escalated and the Chinese bombardment ceased by October 1958.

Sino-American Rapprochement in the 1970s
In view of the Sino-Soviet Split that culminated in the Sino-Soviet Border Conflict in 1969, the US began to assume a different diplomatic stance towards PRC, albeit a friendly one.

Given that the US still perceived the Soviet Union as its greatest threat, the notion of establishing diplomatic relations with PRC as a strategic advantage to gain a leverage over its Cold War rival.

“Ping Pong Diplomacy” and the historic meet between Nixon and Zhou Enlai
On 10 April 1971, the American table tennis team was invited to Beijing, China. The friendly sporting event was considered unprecedented, given the strained bilateral relations ever since the PRC’s involvement in the Korean War of 1950.

In July 1971, the Nixon administration’s National Security Advisor, Henry Kissinger, made a secret visit to Beijing. Pakistan, an ally of China, facilitated the meeting.

On 21 February 1972, US President Nixon met Chairman Mao Zedong in Beijing. Nixon also met Premier Zhou Enlai. More importantly, the visit concluded with the signing of the Shanghai Communiqué on 28 Feburary 1972.

The document signified the mutual interests of both USA and China in the normalization of bilateral relations. As such, USA agreed to recognise the “One-China policy” and reduced military support for Taiwan. Also, China occupied Taiwan’s position as one of the P5 members in the UNSC.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– To what extent do you agree that the Cold War rivalry was a major reason in shaping the Sino-American relations from 1950 to 1979? [to be discussed in class]

Following the assessment of the changing bilateral relations between USA and China, it is important to attempt History essay questions to review your conceptual application. Alternatively, you can join our JC History Tuition as we teach you to organise your content, develop your critical thinking skills and form persuasive and coherent arguments. Lessons are conducted with the aim of preparing you to answer essay and source-based case study questions effectively and feasibly within a given timeframe.

Besides, you can join our JC tuition, such as GP Tuition, Economics Tuition, JC Chemistry Tuition, JC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we offer Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to find out more.

JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - Why did the Soviet Union collapse - JC History Essay Notes

Why did the Soviet Union collapse?

Topic of Study [For H2 and H1 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Understanding the Cold War (1945-1991)
Section A: Source-based Case Study
Theme I Chapter 3: End of Bipolarity

Examine the possible causes that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union in December 1991.

The dissolution of the Soviet Union: Inevitable or not? 
From a retrospective view, not all agree that the collapse of the Soviet Union was expected. In fact, there were forecasts that the Soviet Union might surpass the United States in terms of economic development.

Nevertheless, the Cold War rivalry have undoubtedly impacted the social, economic and political developments of the USSR. In this article, we will cover the consequences of domestic reforms and the rise of nationalism.

Internal Reform #1: Perestroika 
Following the ascent of Mikhail Gorbachev, the newly-elected Soviet leader introduced two notable concepts that outlined his domestic reforms: perestroika and glasnost.

Faced with an ailing Soviet economy, Perestroika (which means ‘restructuring’) involved economic restructuring through the reduction of central planning and greater private participation.

For instance, the Law on State Enterprise was passed in June 1987. In this case, state enterprises could set their own output levels based on consumer demand. With their newfound autonomy, these enterprises had to be self-reliant as state financing was absent.

Additionally, the Soviet Joint Venture Law was passed, which allowed foreign investment to flow into the Soviet Union. The government allowed majority foreign ownership.

However, the economic restructuring was ineffective. Contrary to Gorbachev’s expectations, the reforms accelerated the economic collapse of the Soviet Union. In 1991, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) fell by 17% and inflation rate was at nearly 700%.

The failure of Perestroika was largely traced to the incompatibility of capitalism with communism. For example, the government still maintained a monopoly over the means of production, thereby denying the enterprises of the ability to compete feasibly. Besides, foreign investment was hardly present due to the high degree of resistance from local officials, who feared the loss of political control.

Internal Reform #2: Glasnost
The Glasnost policy (which referred to ‘openness’) was introduced to empower the Russian society by enabling freer flow of information and public involvement in the decision-making processes. By doing so, Gorbachev hoped to restore public trust in the Soviet government, including the desired support for his Perestroika.

For instance, the Soviet government lifted its censorship policies and allowed open political debate. Also, freedom of religion was permitted, which contributed to the restoration of mosques and churches.

Again, the reform proved disastrous for the Gorbachev administration. The policy of “openness” exposed the failures of past leaders, thus causing the erosion of public trust. Critics became more outspoken as they pointed out social and economic problems, like food shortages and housing issues.

More importantly, the availability of political debates influenced the public desire for democratization, which resulted in the mass-based political participation in the Soviet Republics.

Nationalism: A rising tide; A dangerous precipice
In addition to the nationalist movements that took place in the Eastern Europe, there were also political uprisings that broke out within the USSR itself.

From 1988 to 1990, several Soviet Republics declared independence from the Soviet Union. For example, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia declared their intent to break away from USSR even though the Soviet government rejected it.

Due to Gorbachev’s refusal to use military force against the nationalists, cracks within the political leadership were gradually exposed.

The August Coup
Gorbachev proposed the ‘New Union Treaty’ in 1991 to maintain a semblance of central authority while granting the republics their desired sovereign rights. However, nearly half of the republics rejected the proposal.

High-ranking officials within the Soviet government launched a coup against Gorbachev in August 1991. This event became a turning point as Russian President Boris Yeltsin garnered support to end the coup. Eventually, the coup ended and Gorbachev resigned.

On 26 December 1991, following the Belavezha Accords, the dissolution of the USSR began. The declaration recognised the official independence of the former Soviet Republics and the subsequent creation of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). In other words, the collapse of the USSR signalled the end of the Cold War.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that domestic reforms were the main reason for the dissolution of the USSR? [to be discussed in class]

Now that you have considered the contributing factors that explained the collapse of the USSR, it is imperative that you attempt source-based case study questions relating to this topic, also known as the End of Bipolarity. Additionally, you can join our JC History Tuition. We impart you with the thinking and writing skills to improve your quality of answers, such as information extraction, reliability and utility assessment.

Also, you can join other JC tuition programmes, such as GP Tuition, Economics Tuition, JC Chemistry Tuition, JC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we offer Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to learn more.