JC History Tuition Online - What are the Seven Sisters Oil Companies - Global Economy Notes

What are the Seven Sisters Oil Companies?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Understanding the Global Economy (1945-2000)
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme II Chapter 1: Reasons for growth of the global economy

Learn more about the history of oil to understand its impacts on the global economy [Video by Geo History]

What are the ‘Seven Sisters’?
It refers to a group of integrated international oil companies that dominated the global oil markets from the mid-1940s to the mid-1970s. In the 1950s, the head of the Italian state-owned company Eni Enrico Mattei dubbed these companies as the ‘Seven Sisters’.

There were seven members:

  • Anglo-Iranian Oil Company
  • Gulf Oil
  • Royal Dutch Shell
  • Standard Oil Company of California
  • Standard Oil Company of New Jersey
  • Standard Oil Company of New York
  • Toxaco

Some of these members took on more familiar names, partly due to mergers. For instance, Gulf Oil and Texaco are part of Chevron. Notably, among these companies, most were owned by the Americans, including the well-known Rockefeller (Standard Oil).

By 1949, they occupied 82% of the discovered oil reserves outside the United States. The main role of the Seven Sisters was to keep oil prices stable so as to prevent the problematic ‘price collapse’ that frequently haunted the oil industry.

Price setting
The Seven Sisters established a system to ascertain the pricing of crude oil. Between the 1920 and the early 1970s, there were two markets: the US and the non-US. In the US, crude oil prices were set in free markets.

Outside the US, major oil producers had greater influence on production, which affects supply. Producers used a ‘basing point’ price system to prevent the occurrence of price wars.

The goal of the basing point price system was to discourage cheating through transparency and to prevent price wars. The cement and steel industries had operated similar systems. The bane of cartels, after all, had been cheating by members tempted to illicitly sell below the price established by the cartel but still high enough to earn the clandestine seller a juicy profit. Since the base price was published for all to see and freight charges were jointly agreed, all producers could be confident they weren’t being undercut by a rival.

An excerpt from “Crude Volatility: The History and the Future of Boom-Bust Oil Prices” by Robert McNally.

A new age: Enter OPEC
In the Middle East, governments in oil-rich countries began to organise themselves.

In April 1951, the Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh nationalised the nation’s oil assets, angering the owners of British Petroleum (BP). In retaliation, the Seven Sister members boycotted Iranian oil exports, forcing its output to fall to almost zero. In August 1953, Mossadegh was overthrown, resulting in the reversal of the nationalisation policies.

In 1958, two anti-Western uprising took place in Iraq and Venezuela, eventually leading to the diminished influence of the Seven Sisters in the global crude oil industry. In January 1958, a revolution had toppled the military regime under General Pérez Jiménez. The new Venezuelan government requested a lawyer Juan Pablo Pérez Alfonzo (later known as the ‘Father of OPEC’) to form a national oil company. In six months later, Iraqi forces led a military coup against King Faisal II and the pro-Western Nuri al-Said.

In September 1960, Kuwait, Iraq, Iran, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia gathered in Baghdad and set up the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). By then, OPEC had occupied more than four-fifths of the world’s oil exports.

Libya made the first move to challenge the dominance of the Seven Sisters. In September 1969, a military coup against King Idris I resulted in the rise of the leader Muammar Qaddafi. Qaddafi successfully demanded a hike in the per barrel price of oil. Subsequently, other OPEC members followed suit, setting off a frenzy.

Fearful of being picked off one by one, the seven majors, Total, and eight independents banded together in a united front to bargain with OPEC.

[…] The Shah played on western officials and companies’ fears, warning the former that if oil companies resisted, “the entire Gulf would be shutdown and no oil would flow,” and admonishing that the “all-powerful Six or Seven Sisters have got to open their eyes, and see they they’re living in 1971, and not in 1948 or 1949.” Washington—terrified above all of a supply cut off it no longer had ample spare capacity to offset— sided with the Shah and against oil companies, supporting OPEC’s demand for two regional negotiations.

An excerpt from “Crude Volatility: The History and the Future of Boom-Bust Oil Prices” by Robert McNally.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the view that oil was the most significant factor that influenced the development of the global economy in the post-war years.

Join our JC History Tuition to grasp the topic on the Global Economy, namely the ‘Golden Age of Capitalism’ and the ‘Crisis Decades’. The H2 and H1 History Tuition feature online discussion and writing practices to enhance your knowledge application skills. Get useful study notes and clarify your doubts on the subject with the tutor. You can also follow our Telegram Channel to get useful updates.

We have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics TuitionJC Chemistry TuitionJC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Lower Secondary English Tuition, Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. For Primary Tuition, we have Primary English Tuition. Call 9658 5789 to find out more.

JC History Tuition Online - ASEAN - What caused the Sino-Vietnamese War

What caused the Sino-Vietnamese War of 1979?

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)

Learn more about how the Sino-Vietnamese War occurred in 1979, affecting the Indochinese region. [Video by The Gulf War Channel]

Historical context: The Sino-Soviet split
On 17 February 1979, Chinese forces entered the northern border of Vietnam, sparking off a war between the two. Although the war only lasted for a month, it had significant impacts in the 1980s, such as increased involvement by the regional organisation ASEAN during the Third Indochina War.

Before the war, China and the Soviet Union were at odds with one another. During the Vietnam War, the two Communist powers offered aid to North Vietnam in hopes of isolating the other party and assuming leadership in the ideological bloc. Initially, Hanoi sided with China to resist the American forces in Vietnam.

The deteriorating Sino-Soviet relationship during the latter part of the 1960s eventually derailed Chinese-Vietnamese relations. While the Soviet Union did indeed use its support for North Vietnam in an attempt to win influence in Hanoi, China did so as well, hoping to coerce the Vietnamese into endorsing Beijing’s hard-line anti-Soviet revisionist position. Especially after suffering significant military losses during the 1968 Tet Offensive, the Vietnamese, who needed help from both socialist nations, were greatly annoyed by China’s increasing intractability, particularly the PRC’s growing perception of the Soviet Union, not the United States, as the primary threat to China’s national security in early 1969. Perhaps even worse, Beijing began to withdraw Chinese troops from Vietnam, although leaders promised that the forces would return if the Americans came back.

An excerpt from “Deng Xiaoping’s Long War: The Military Conflict Between China and Vietnam, 1979-1991” by Zhang Xiaoming.

However, Hanoi allied with the Soviet Union in the mid-1970s, as seen by its admission to the Council of Mutual Economic Cooperation (COMECON) in August 1978. Also, the two nations signed the Treaty of Friendship and Co-operation in November 1978. In return, Vietnam received extensive military support from the Soviets.

From then on, China-Vietnam relations had soured.

Chinese engagement with Thailand
After Vietnam signed the treaty with the Soviet Union, Deng met Thai Prime Minister General Kriangsak Chamanan, offering to withdraw support for the Communist Party of Thailand (CPT) and strengthen Thai border security. This was to assure the Thai authorities that the looming Vietnamese threat would be pre-empted.

On 25 December 1978, nearly 220,000 Vietnamese troops invaded Kampuchea. By January 1979, the pro-Beijing Khmer Rouge was forcibly removed from power. Instead, a Vietnamese puppet government known as the Kampuchean United Front for National Salvation (FUNSK) was established and helmed by Heng Samrin.

Increased Chinese hostility: Teach Vietnam a lesson
On 7 January 1979, the Chinese government wrote a letter to the United Nations, accusing Vietnam on invading Kampuchea by force and seeking to create an “Indochinese Federation” with the help of the Soviet Union. Deng remarked in a meeting with the US President Jimmy Carter that they should “put a restraint on the wild ambitions of the Vietnamese and to give them an appropriate limited lesson”.

Afterwards, the Sino-Vietnamese War began in February 1979. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) mobilised 400,000 troops, an extremely large undertaking ever since their intervention in the Korean War. During the clash, both sides suffered significant losses. On 16 March 1979, the Sino-Vietnamese War came to an end.

However, the PLA were willing to absorb heavy losses, as long as the conflict achieved its strategic goals. The PLA believed these goals had been achieved, and that the war had succeeded in ‘exposing Moscow’s inability or unwillingness to back Vietnam’. While the use of force against Vietnam had been condemned by the US, albeit ambiguously, and raised the suspicions of regional states such as Indonesia and Malaysia, ultimately there was very little backlash, regionally or internationally.

An excerpt from “ASEAN Resistance to Sovereignty Violation: Interests, Balancing and the Role of the Vanguard State” by Laura Southgate.

After the war, Beijing stated five reasons to explain why they attacked Vietnam:

  1. Vietnam had become a hegemonic power, claiming to be the world’s third military superpower.
  2. Hanoi refused to respect China’s borders and repeatedly made incursions.
  3. Mistreatment of the Chinese in Vietnam.
  4. Oppression of the Vietnamese people.
  5. The Soviet Union’s expansionist policy in Southeast Asia to undermine China.

Consequences on the Kampuchean conflict
Yet, the month-long clash had failed to halt Vietnam’s occupation of Kampuchea. Open hostilities between China and Vietnam had persisted even after.

The two viewpoints expressed above bring to light the fact that both Hanoi and Beijing were at odds with each other principally because they were competing for influence in the region and feared what would happen if the other succeeded. Thus, for the Chinese, border problems, ethnic Chinese problems, and other problems could not be separated from Vietnam’s overall ambitions in Indochina because they reflected Hanoi’s expansionist tendencies.

An excerpt from “Dragons Entangled: Indochina and the China-Vietnam War” by Steven J. Hood.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you u agree that the Sino-Vietnamese War was key in explaining Chinese involvement in the Third Indochina War?

Join our JC History Tuition to study the Cold War. The H2 and H1 History Tuition feature online discussion and writing practices to enhance your knowledge application skills. Get useful study notes and clarify your doubts on the subject with the tutor. You can also follow our Telegram Channel to get useful updates.

We have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics TuitionJC Chemistry TuitionJC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Lower Secondary English Tuition, Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. For Primary Tuition, we have Primary English Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to find out more.

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JC History Tuition Online - What are the five regional groups of the United Nations General Assembly

What are the five regional groups of the United Nations General Assembly?

Topic of Study [For H1/H2 History Students]:
Paper 1: Safeguarding International Peace and Security 
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme III Chapter 2: Political Effectiveness of the UN in maintaining international peace and security

Learn more about regional groups like the Group of 77 to understand their contributions to the General Assembly [Video by the United Nations]

Historical context
When the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) was tasked to choose members to fill the non-permanent seats on the Security Council (UNSC), it then led to the creation of five groups:

  1. African states
  2. Asia-Pacific states
  3. Latin American and Caribbean states
  4. Eastern European states
  5. Western European and Other states

These groups were formed based on geography. Initially, these regional groups were affected by changing political conditions, such as the decolonisation of the Third World nations from 1954 to 1960. For instance, British colonies that gained independence had joined groups based on their geographical proximities rather than being in the Commonwealth.

The only explicit provisions of the Charter on geographical distribution concern the election of the 10 non-permanent members of the Security Council (Article 23, para. 1) and the recruitment of the staff of the Organization (Article 101, para. 3).

[…]

The members of certain regional groups also use the groups for discussion and consultation on policy issues. Moreover, since groupings of Member States by geographical region have evolved as an informal arrangement for a number of practical purposes, different groupings are sometimes used for different purposes, or in the context of different United Nations bodies.

An excerpt from the United Nations Juridical Yearbook 1996 (Letter to the Senior Legal Adviser of the Universal Postal Union).

Apart from the consideration of these five regional groups, it is important to look at the formation of other groupings that affected the voting behavior of member nations in the UNGA.

Non-Aligned Movement (NAM)
The NAM was formed during the Cold War by the Yugoslav President Josip Broz Tito. It was established for countries that sought to stay neutral, refusing to align either with the United States or the Soviet Union. During the Bandung Conference in April 1955, the concepts for the NAM were created.

There were four key aims in the Conference:

  1. To promote goodwill and cooperation among the nations of Asia and Africa, to explore and advance their mutual as well as common interests, and to establish and further friendliness and neighbourly relations;
  2. To consider consider social, economic and cultural problems and relations of the countries represented;
  3. To consider problems of special interest to Asian and African peoples;
  4. To view the position of Africa and Asia and their peoples in the world of today and the contribution they can make to the promotion of world peace and cooperation.

In 1961, the NAM was founded in Belgrade (during the Non-Aligned Conference) under the leadership of Marshall Tito, Jawaharlal Nehru and Gamal Abdel Nasser. 25 Arab, Asian and African countries attended the Summit that marked its founding. Members in the NAM had objected to foreign intervention in the Middle East (such as the Suez Canal Crisis), labelling Western interference as ‘acts of imperialism’.

The African Group at the UN was created in 1958 and soon made its presence felt on decolonisation and anti-apartheid issues, eventually ostracising South Africa at the UN and maintaining pressure for the liberation of Rhodesia-Zimbabwe and Namibia. NAM states led the expansion of the UN Security Council and the Economic and Social Council by the mid-1970s. During this period, the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination was agreed; a committee on decolonisation was established; and the special committee against apartheid was created.

[…]

Due to the pressure of a determined Southern majority, the People’s Republic of China took its permanent seat on the UN Security Council in 1971 in the teeth of US opposition. Western disenchantment with the global South’s dominance of multilateral diplomacy eventually led to the creation of the Group of Seven industrialised advanced nations in 1975.

An excerpt from “Bandung Revisited: The Legacy of the 1955 Asian-African Conference for International Order” by Amitav Acharya and See Seng Tan.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the importance of regional groups in influencing the effectiveness of the United Nations General Assembly.

Join our JC History Tuition to study the role of the United Nations and its principal organs. The H2 and H1 History Tuition feature online discussion and writing practices to enhance your knowledge application skills. Get useful study notes and clarify your doubts on the subject with the tutor. You can also follow our Telegram Channel to get useful updates.

We have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics TuitionJC Chemistry TuitionJC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Lower Secondary English Tuition, Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. For Primary Tuition, we have Primary English Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to find out more.

JC History Tuition Online - Why did Albania leave the Warsaw Pact - Sino-Soviet Split

Why did Albania leave the Warsaw Pact?

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)

Historical context: The Warsaw Pact
After the Berlin Blockade of 1948, the Western military alliance, known as the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) was formed in 1949. Afterwards, the Soviet Union signed the Warsaw Pact, a collective defense treaty in 1955, with seven other Eastern bloc nations. The Warsaw Pact functioned as a counterweight against NATO.

During the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in February 1955, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev delivered his speech of that sent shockwaves across the Communist bloc. To some, Khrushchev’s speech of ‘de-Stalinisation’ and ‘Peaceful Co-existence’ were considered revisionist, including the Albanian leader Enver Hoxha.

Let us take the question of the criticism of Stalin and his work. Our Party, as a Marxist-Leninist one, is fully aware that the cult of the individual is an alien and dangerous manifestation for the parties and for the communist movement itself. … Looking at it from this angle, we fully agree that the cult of the individual of Stalin should be criticized as a dangerous manifestation in the life of the party. But in our opinion, the 20th Congress, and especially Comrade Khrushchev’s secret report, did not put the question of Comrade Stalin correctly, in an objective Marxist-Leninist way.

An excerpt from a speech by Enver Hoxha delivered at the meeting of 81 Communist and Workers’ Parties in Moscow, 16 November 1960.

Switching sides
During the third Romanian Party Congress in Bucharest, all communist parties were present in June 1960 to exchange views on matters pertaining to the Communist and workers’ parties of the world. Khrushchev had intended to unite his Communist allies to challenge the Chinese. Yet, Hoxha was absent.

After the Bucharest debacle, Khrushchev withdrew economic aid for Albania, which pushed other Eastern European allies to do the same.

Thus Khrushchev had ironically undermined his own position by inadvertently weakening the pro-Khrushchevite faction and enabling the Sino- Albanian friendship. This friendship was mutually advantageous: Mao had gained a cheap and loyal ally, and Albania had found such a distant protector, that it would not ‘become a puppet of its protector but rather would increase its own degree of independence of maneuver in foreign and domestic affairs’.

An excerpt from “The Warsaw Pact Reconsidered: International Relations in Eastern Europe, 1955-1969” by Laurien Crump.

The Soviet Union continued to cut off economic support for Albania. In December 1960, the Soviets cancelled grants, cut off all trade and withdrew its advisers. Notably, the issue worsened when the Soviet-owned submarines withdrew in June 1961, leaving Albania’s security exposed.

Open Confrontation
During the 22nd CPSU Congress in October 1961, Khrushchev launched a series of criticisms at the Albanian leaders. In response, the Albanians spoke up against the Soviet leader. In 1962, Albania no longer resided in the Warsaw Pact. Consequently, Albanian turned to PRC for economic support, thereby widening the Sino-Soviet chasm.

As he sought to propel China towards a more radical path internationally, Mao Zedong sensed an opportunity in the growing Soviet-Albanian estrangement. Sino-Albanian solidarity was plainly emergent at the first open confrontation between Moscow and Beijing, at the communist-front General Council of the World Federation of Trade Unions in early June 1960.

… Internationally, both countries saw themselves in a two-front struggle against “imperialism” and “modern revisionism.” The Sino-Albanian “friendship” survived so long as the common struggle on the two fronts continued. Only in the wake of the Sino-American rapprochement in the 1970s did this close alliance unravel with the same fervor that had fostered its creation.

An excerpt from the Cold War International History Project Bulletin, Issue 16, titled “‘Albania is not Cuba.’ Sino-Albanian Summits and the Sino-Soviet Split” by Ana Lalaj, Christian F. Ostermann, and Ryan Gage.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that the Sino-Albanian split was the main reason for the deterioration of Sino-Soviet relations?

Join our JC History Tuition to analyse factors affecting the superpower relations with China. The H2 and H1 History Tuition feature online discussion and writing practices to enhance your knowledge application skills. Get useful study notes and clarify your doubts on the subject with the tutor. You can also follow our Telegram Channel to get useful updates.

We have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics TuitionJC Chemistry TuitionJC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Lower Secondary English Tuition, Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. For Primary Tuition, we have Primary English Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to learn more.

JC History Tuition Online - What is the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia

What is the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia?

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)

Topic of Study [For H1 History Students]:
Ess
ay 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)

The document
On 24 February 1976, the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) was signed. This peace treaty was formalised during the Bali Summit in Indonesia by the five founding members of ASEAN.

In their relations with one another, the High Contracting Parties shall be guided by the following fundamental principles :

a. Mutual respect for the independence, sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity and national identity of all nations;

b. The right of every State to lead its national existence free from external interference, subversion or coercion;

c. Non-interference in the internal affairs of one another;

d. Settlement of differences or disputes by peaceful means;

e. Renunciation of the threat or use of force;

f. Effective cooperation among themselves.

An excerpt from the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, Chapter I: Purpose and Principles, Article 2, 24 February 1976.

Notably, this document was signed a year after the Vietnam War concluded, with the forces in North Vietnam unifying the Vietnam territory under Communist rule. It was an alarming development, considering that ASEAN was futile in keeping the region free from external interference, as seen by its use of the Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality (ZOPFAN) in 1971.

Application: Dispute resolution
To put the principles of the TAC into practice, ASEAN formed a ‘High Council’ that features a judicial dispute-settlement mechanism to resolve regional matters amicably. Yet, the High Council was only being referred to when Indonesia suggested to resolve the territorial dispute with Malaysia with regards to the Sipadan and Ligitan islands. Eventually, when Malaysia objected, this dispute was brought up to a globally-renowned International Court of Justice (ICJ).

The only time that resort to the dispute-settlement provisions of the TAC was ever considered was in the mid-1990s, when Indonesia proposed using the TAC’s High Council to help resolve its dispute with Malaysia over ownership of the Sipadan and Ligitan islands. Malaysia declined the proposal. Instead, Kuala Lumpur preferred, and President Soeharto eventually agreed, to take the dispute to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, which has since ruled in Malaysia’s favour.

An excerpt from “Southeast Asia in Search of an ASEAN Community” by Rodolfo Severino.

Application: Extra-ASEAN engagement
In the post-Cold War phase, ASEAN re-positioned itself to maintain its relevance. The establishment of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in 1994 was meant to engage non-ASEAN countries, particularly the big powers like the USA and China, through peaceful talks.

The TAC was applied to enforce the need for proper code of conduct so as to de-escalate tensions and resolve disputes, such as the ongoing territorial clashes in the Spartly Islands.

In the early 1990s, ASEAN supplied an inclusive security dialogue forum to bring together all the major regional powers and players, something other actors were unable to do. Through this process all powers agreed to ASEAN’s TAC as a regional code of conduct, and to dialogue as a key aspect of regional strategic engagement, no mean feat considering the US’ and China’s scepticism and opposition to multilateralism in the initial post-Cold War years.

An excerpt from “Understanding ASEAN’s Role in Asia-Pacific Order” by Robert Yates.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that the TAC was effectively applied in ASEAN’s response to the Cold War?

Join our JC History Tuition to analyse the political effectiveness of ASEAN in the Cold War and post-Cold War periods. The H2 and H1 History Tuition feature thematic discussion, question application for essay and source based case studies. Receive summary notes and attempt diverse practices to get a head-start in your examination preparation.

We have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics TuitionJC Chemistry TuitionJC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Lower Secondary English Tuition, Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. For Primary Tuition, we have Primary English Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to learn more.

JC History Tuition Online - How does the UN General Assembly work - United Nations

How does the UN General Assembly work?

Topic of Study [For H1/H2 History Students]:
Paper 1: Safeguarding International Peace and Security 
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme III Chapter 2: Political Effectiveness of the UN in maintaining international peace and security

The UN General Assembly: Revisited
Let’s recap on what we have learnt about the ‘world parliament’, also known as the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). As stated in Article 7 of the UN Charter, the UNGA is one of the six principal organs. Among all six, the UNGA allows political representation of all member states through its “one nation, one vote” system.

Ever since its inception, the membership size has increased from a humble 51 to 193. Initially, the UNGA started out with its predominantly European and Latin American composition. Following decolonisation, the inclusion of newly-independent countries in Africa and Asia contributed to a global forum that is more representative of the world.

The Six Committees
There are six main committees to address a wide range of matters, such as “Disarmament and International Security” (First Committee) and “Administrative and Budgetary” (Fifth Committee). In October and November, the UNGA will begin its proceedings in these committees. During this phase, the UNGA will consider the adoption of resolutions to deal with procedural matters, like membership admission. Interestingly, the First Committee saw heated debates during the Cold War.

Article 21 of the UN Charter states that the UNGA shall “elect its president for each session”. Additionally, Article 22 points out that the UNGA should “establish such subsidiary organs as it deems necessary for the performance of its functions”. As such, presidents serving the main committees will come from different regional groups (Africa, Asia, Latin America, Eastern European and Western European) in a rotational manner. Notably, the Permanent Five members of the Security Council will occupy positions in the committees as vice presidents.

Each main committee elects a chair, two vice chairs, and a rapporteur. The chair presides over committee meetings and co-ordinates or encourages the informal consultations on procedural and substantive questions necessary to its effective functioning. The vice chairs preside as needed, and in most committees also organize or promote informal discussions on agenda items assigned to their care. The rapporteur, assisted by the Secretariat, drafts the summaries of debates and explanations of committee drafts that comprise its reports to the plenary.

An excerpt from “The UN General Assembly” by M. J. Peterson

The Regular Sessions
In the UNGA, the regular sessions commence from the third Tuesday in September till the third week in December. Each government of a member state can send delegates as representatives to attend the General Assembly session. Article 9(2) of the Charter stipulates that each member state should send “not more than five representatives”.

The Special and Emergency Sessions
In view of more exceptional situations, the UNGA can conduct Special or Emergency Special Sessions to address specific agendas. These sessions can last from one day to a few weeks, depending on the severity of the matter. They can be held at the request of the Security Council or a majority of the member states.

The following are some notable Special Sessions held by the UNGA:

As for Emergency Special Sessions, here are some examples:

  • 1st Emergency Special Session (1956): Middle East on the Suez Canal Crisis
  • 4th Emergency Special Session (1960): Congo Crisis

Use of the General Assembly as an arena for criticizing rivals and appealing to wider audiences began in earnest as the Second World War allies divided into contending Cold War blocs. Public debate provided both sides with occasions for asserting the superiority of its own vision for the world and the inferiority of the other’s. By 1950, another broad cleavage, between an anti-colonial majority and the remaining colonial powers, had also emerged, but did not inspire the same two-way intensity of discussion because the colonial powers were more defensive and subdued. From the late 1960s through the 1980s, the South–North cleavage produced sharp rhetoric as the more radical members of the Third World coalition took the lead in denouncing Western imperialism and neocolonialism.

An excerpt from “The UN General Assembly” by M. J. Peterson

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that the United Nations General Assembly has fulfilled its Charter-defined roles?

Join our JC History Tuition to evaluate the effectiveness of the principal organs of the United Nations. The H2 and H1 History Tuition feature thematic discussion, question application for essay and source based case studies. We provide useful study notes, essay outlines and source based case study references for productive revision.

We have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics TuitionJC Chemistry TuitionJC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Lower Secondary English Tuition, Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. For Primary Tuition, we have Primary English Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to find out more.

JC History Tuition Online - What happened during the Taiwan Straits Crises - Superpower relations with China

What happened during the Taiwan Straits Crises?

Learn more about the first Taiwan Straits Crisis of 1958 that shaped Sino-American relations from the late 1950s to the 1960s [Video by British Pathé]

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)

The First Taiwan Straits Crisis: A geopolitical contest
Following the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) victory over the Kuomintang (KMT) during the Chinese Civil War in 1949, the latter fled to Taiwan. The Taiwan Strait separated mainland China from Taiwan as the KMT formed the Republic of China (ROC).

Map depicting the Taiwan Strait that separated mainland China from Taiwan [Source: Ohio State University]

Quemoy (金门 or Kinmen) and Matsu (马祖) Islands were considered the first line of defence for Chiang Kai-shek’s ROC. Additionally, the United States offered to aid its newfound ally, the ROC, especially after its hostile interactions with Chinese troops during the Korean War.

Notably, US President Harry Truman delivered a rousing speech that reaffirmed the American commitment to its political alliances in East Asia, including Taiwan.

Accordingly I have ordered the 7th Fleet to prevent any attack on Formosa. As a corollary of this action I am calling upon the Chinese Government on Formosa to cease all air and sea operations against the mainland. The 7th Fleet will see that this is done. The determination of the future status of Formosa must await the restoration of security in the Pacific, a peace settlement with Japan, or consideration by the United Nations.

An excerpt from a statement by the US President Harry Truman on Korea, 27 June 1950.

A Mutual Defense Treaty was signed with ROC to legitimise American military presence in the vicinity. Yet, such actions proved aggravating to Sino-American relations. In early September 1954, the PRC launched the bombardment of Quemoy and Matsu Islands. Chiang deployed about 100,000 troops to defend the two outermost islands, hoping that the American allies would come to their aid.

After the first crisis, the US Congress passed the “Formosa Resolution” that granted President Eisenhower the authority to defend Taiwan from communist aggression.

The Second Taiwan Straits Crisis: The Conflagration
During the Bandung Conference of 1955, Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai expressed desire to negotiate with the United States, possibly to de-escalate tensions and avert a full-scale military conflict with it. The olive branch offered by Zhou to the United States had earned much support and praise from the attendees at the Asian-African Conference in Indonesia.

By following the principles of mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, nonaggression, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, the peaceful coexistence of countries with different social systems can be realized. When these principles are ensured of implementation, there is no reason why international disputes cannot be settled through negotiation.

An excerpt from Premier Zhou Enlai’s speech during the Asian-African Conference, 19 April 1955.

However, efforts to reduce tensions were negated by Eisenhower’s contemplated to use nuclear weapons on the PRC. On 23 August 1958, the Chinese leader Mao Zedong authorised the artillery bombardment of Quemoy Island. In retaliation, the ROC armed forces fought back.

Under the obligations of the American-Taiwan defense treaty of 1954, the United States offered military aid to the Nationalists. Increased American presence in the Taiwan Straits had alarmed the Soviet Union, such that Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko visited Beijing to uncover the rationale behind Mao’s decision to attack Quemoy. Fortunately, the conflict did not escalate into a nuclear confrontation.

Chairman Mao said that the bombardment of Jinmen, frankly speaking, was our turn to create international tension for a purpose. We intended to teach the Americans a lesson. America had bullied us for many years, so now that we had a chance, why not give it a hard time?

… In our propaganda, however, we still need to condemn the Americans for causing tension in the Taiwan Straits. We did not put them in the wrong. The United States has several thousand troops stationed on Taiwan, plus two air force bases there. Their largest fleet, the Seventh Fleet, often cruises in the Taiwan Straits.

An excerpt from the “Inside Story of the Decision Making during the Shelling Jinmen” by Wu Lengxi

A thorn in the flesh: Prelude to the Sino-Soviet Split
On 6 October 1958, a ceasefire was made. Yet, the peace was short-lived as the PRC resumed its attacks on the two islands for nearly two decades until the late 1970s due to the Sino-American rapprochement.

Along the same vein, the Taiwan Straits Crises in the 1950s had impacted Sino-Soviet relations. On the surface, it appeared as if the signing of the Treaty of Friendship had proved to be fortuitous for Mao Zedong as he received Soviet military support to deter American attacks. Yet, the diverging perceptions by the two Communist leaders began to cause the gradual deterioration of bilateral relations. Partly, Khrushchev’s hesitance to antagonise the United States could be traced to his notion of “Peaceful Coexistence” that Mao could not agree with.

New evidence suggests that, on the contrary, the Soviet Union did everything it had promised to do in support of the Chinese operation, and that it was China, not the USSR, that was unwilling to follow through. This outcome explains why Khrushchev, feeling he had been burned once, was determined not to let it happen again. From then on he emphasized the need for a peaceful resolution of the Taiwan problem, a lesson that Mao was unwilling to draw, for fear it would expose the magnitude of his failure in the Quemoy crisis. These different views became a sore point in Sino-Soviet relations, as was evident during Khrushchev’s visit to Beijing in the autumn of 1959.

An excerpt from “The USSR Foreign Ministry’s appraisal of Sino-Soviet relations on the eve of the Split, September 1959” by Mark Kramer.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the view that the Taiwan conflict was the root cause of the Sino-Soviet split.

Join our JC History Tuition to analyse the significance of Taiwan and other related factors that shaped superpower relation with China. The H2 and H1 History Tuition feature thematic discussion, question application for essay and source based case studies. Students who enrol in the programme will receive concise study notes to enhance their study strategy and gear up for the examination.

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JC History Tuition Online - What happened in Myanmar in 1962 - Approaches to Governance

What happened in Myanmar in 1962?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]:
Paper 2: Search for Political Stability
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme I Chapter 1: Approaches to Governance

Understand the significance of 1962 in the political history of Myanmar. [Video by Foreign Policy Association]

Historical Context: An unstable democracy
Following the assassination of the renowned political figure General Aung San on 19 July 1947, U Nu assumed leadership as Prime Minister in the civilian government of Burma on 4 July 1948. Although the Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League (AFPFL) won the majority (171 out of 182 seats), it was battered by continued political disunity. The fragmentation of the AFPFL took shape when U Nu sought to shape the coalition into a unitary party.

Consequently Swe and Nyein formed the Stable AFPFL but the League’s HQ was in possession by the Nu-Tin faction as the President (U Nu), the General-Secretary (Thakin Kyaw Tun) and the Treasurer (U Tin) were all in one group in opposition to Swe-Nyein. The Nu-Tin formed the Clean A FPFL implying that their AFPFL was without any dirty ones in it.

… The AFPFL split created two major problems: inheritance of assets and title of AFPFL, and the choice of arena for the final showdown between the two brawling factions.

An excerpt from “The Split Story” by Sein Win, 23 March 1959.

Insurgencies and the military intervention
In addition, civil war broke out in 1949 between the central government and different insurgent forces. Origins of these violent clashes can be traced to disputes over the terms of agreement made during the Panglong Conference. For instance, the 1947 Constitution stated that the Shan, Kachin and Karenni became autonomous states within the Union and could secede after ten years. Yet, other groups like the Karens were not involved in the Conference, thus they were not accorded equal rights as the above-mentioned groups.

It is thus clear that the signatories to the Panglong Agreement believed they were assenting to early independence from Britain and the perpetuation of their freedom from British and Burman interference in their internal affairs; that, whatever their commitment, it was not to permanent and irrevocable integration in an independent Union of Burma ruled by Burmans.

Nor did Panglong’s signatories represent all ‘the peoples of the Frontier Areas’. A delegation of four Karens arrived late at the conference, attended as observers and were not consulted … and the Chins of the Arakan Hill Tracts, Was, Nagas, Lushais, Palaungs, Paos, Akhas, Lahus and dozens of smaller tribes were not represented at all.

An excerpt from “Burma: The Curse of Independence” by Shelby Tucker.

In response to mounting political and social unrest, Prime Minister U Nu requested the military institution, helmed by Ne Win, to form a caretaker government in October 1958. The agreement was made to oversee the restoration of political stability before general elections were held in 1960.

Coup d’état: Ushering an age of military rule
As expected, the military handed over reigns to the AFPFL in spite of their borderline success at maintaining electoral dominance in 1960. However, public perceptions had shifted in favour of the military, given the incumbent’s ability to ensure stability. On 2 March 1962, Ne Win launched a military coup. The General became the Chairman of the Revolutionary Council and Prime Minister of Burma.

General Ne Win’s assumption of power on 2 March 1962, while not unexpected, was nonetheless a surprise to many. It was executed in secrecy, and apparently even the deputy commander of the armed forces, Brigadier General Aung Gyi, was not informed until the next morning, though he must have been expecting it as early as November 1961, when he raised the prospect with colleagues.

… Two days later, Ne Win assumed all executive, legislative and judicial authority as Chairman of the Revolutionary Council. While the institutions of the 1947 Constitution were dismantled, so were the policies and activities of foreign institutions.

An excerpt from “General Ne Win: A Political Biography” by Robert Taylor.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the significance of the military in the maintenance of political stability in post-independence Southeast Asia.

Join our JC History Tuition to find out more about the essay topic on Approaches to Governance. The H2 and H1 History Tuition feature online thematic studies to build up your critical thinking skills. Also, there will be essay and source based case study writing workshops to improve your answering techniques. Get useful study notes and seek feedback from our tutor to grasp the concepts well.

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JC History Tuition Online - What was the Cultural Revolution - Superpower Relations with China

What was the Cultural Revolution?

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 the social, economic and political impacts of Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution [Video by BBC News]

Context: An ideological split
Before the Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Mao Zedong declared the start of the Cultural Revolution, the rising Communist power clashed with the Soviet Union. In particular, Mao disagreed with the Soviet leader Khrushchev’s policy of ‘de-Stalinization’ in 1956, fearing that the latter’s reforms may jeopardize the global Marxist movement. From then on, Mao criticized Khrushchev as a ‘revisionist’, revealing signs of a Sino-Soviet split that characterized bilateral relations of the two Communist powers in the 1960s.

The Chairman turned against Khrushchev’s de-Stalinization more decisively than ever before: “[Stalinism is] just Marxism . . . with shortcomings.” He continued: “The so-called de-Stalinization thus is simply de-Marxification, it is revisionism.” Finally, the Chairman maintained that the Chinese comrades, “unlike some people who have tried to defame and destroy Stalin, . . . are acting in accordance with objective reality.” It was the first time that Mao clearly distinguished between the views of the subjectivist revisionists in Moscow and the objective Marxists in Beijing.

An excerpt from “The Sino-Soviet Split: Cold War in the Communist World” by Lorenz M. Lüthi.

A decade-long revolution: Eradicating dissent
In the 1960s, Mao bore rising concerns with the bourgeois culture, which he perceived as as threat to the Chinese society. Mao viewed intellectuals and individuals that were supportive of the West as enemies of the Communist Party.

In January 1965, Mao established the ‘Five Man Group’ (文化革命五人小组) with Peng Zhen (彭真) to oversee the Cultural Revolution. However, Mao dismissed Peng Zhen and the rest of the Group. Notably, the publication of a circular on 16 May 1966 marked the start of the Cultural Revolution.

Peng Zhen had no discussion or exchange of views at all within the Group of Five. He did not ask any local party committee for its opinion… and still less did he get the approval of Comrade Mao Zedong. Employing the most improper methods, he acted arbitrarily, abused his powers [and] issued the outline report to the whole party

Those representatives of the bourgeoisie who have sneaked into the party, the government, the army, and various cultural circles are a bunch of counter-revolutionary revisionists. Once conditions are ripe, they will seize political power and turn the dictatorship of the proletariat into a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie.

An excerpt from the May 16th Circular, 16 May 1966.

The ‘Four Olds’
The Red Guards were formed to carry out Mao’s Revolution, comprising of radical students and officials. His aim was to eradicate the ‘Four Olds’ – old ideas, old customs, old culture and old habits (四旧 – 旧思想, 旧文化, 旧风俗, 旧习惯). From the mid-1960s to 1970, numerous party leaders were imprisoned, including the Chinese President Liu Shaoqi (刘少奇). Additionally, schools were forced to shut down. Cultural influences deemed too oriented to the West were also being suppressed.

The four olds embraced symbols of China’s traditional, premodern society, such as artworks celebrating Confucian elitism. These were roundly denounced as “feudal” at a time when the old society was still a memory for many, and its visible heritage included not only classical paintings and string-bound books but also elderly ladies with bound feed. The savagery of this aesthetic response to Mao’s call for Cultural Revolution is perhaps best understood as youthful ignorance and bravado, mixed with a generalized anxiety that counterrevolutionaries wished to restore the old society.

An excerpt from “The Cultural Revolution: A Very Short Introduction” by Richard Curt Kraus.

On the other hand, the ‘Little Red Book‘ was promoted and distributed to the Chinese citizens. It served to strengthen his goal of creating a cult of personality, similar to Stalin.

End of the Revolution
In the early 1970s, the Cultural Revolution came to an end. The Sino-American rapprochement of 1972 had changed the Chinese government’s foreign policy stance towards the USA. By the end of the Revolution, the Chinese economy was severely damaged. The ‘Gang of Four’ (四人帮), which included Mao’s wife, Jiang Qing (江青), was blamed for the devastating effects of the Cultural Revolution.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that Mao Zedong was responsible for the developments of the Sino-Soviet relations?

Join our JC History Tuition to comprehend the key events that shaped the Sino-Soviet split. The H2 and H1 History Tuition feature online thematic discussions, essay writing and source based case study workshops. Be analytical, organised and persuasive in your writing.

We have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics TuitionJC Chemistry TuitionJC 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. For Primary Tuition, we have Primary English Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to find out more.

JC History Tuition Online - How was Thailand affected by the Asian Financial Crisis

How was Thailand affected by the Asian Financial Crisis?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]:
Paper 2: Economic Development after Independence
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme II Chapter 2: Asian Financial Crisis

Examine the causes of the regional currency crisis to understand its significance on Southeast Asia [Video by Business Explained]

Overview
The Asian Financial Crisis of 1997 was a devastating problem that impacted fast-growing economies in Southeast Asia. Before the crisis, the region was fuelled by unprecedented growth, as seen by the rise of the ‘Tiger economies’ like Singapore.

The epicentre: Thailand
With the Bank of Thailand (BOT) at the helm of the nation’s push for financial liberalisation from the 1980s to the early 1990s, few had expected the central bank to assume partial responsibility for the underlying problems.

Since the 1960s, the Thai baht was tied to the American dollar. This arrangement proved beneficial in accelerating the Thai government’s switch from import-substitution industrialisation (ISI) to export promotion. The establishment of export processing zones (EPZs) was carried out in tandem with the large capital inflows from newly industrialised economies, such as Taiwan.

Like a moth to a flame: Enter the BIBF
Furthermore, the BOT had accepted Article 8 of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Agreement on 20 May 1990. It meant that BOT agreed to open the Thai economy to a larger degree of financial liberalisation. Notably, the Bangkok International Banking Facilities (BIBF) was formed in March 1993 as an offshore banking centre, turning the nation in to an investment hub that could compete with Singapore.

As a result of Thailand’s market-friendly measures, the economy gained from a tremendous amount of capital inflow.

In fact, between 1988 and 1996 Thailand was the recipient of the largest capital inflows relative to GDP in the world. According to the Bank of Thailand, between 1988 and 1996 Thailand received a staggering cumulative amount of US$100.3 billion, about 55 per cent of 1996 GDP, or 9.4 per cent of GDP on average per annum.

An excerpt from “The Asian Financial Crisis: Crisis, reform and recovery” by Shalendra Sharma.

An impending disaster
However, excessive capital inflow proved to be more detrimental than beneficial for Thailand. In particular, the influx of short-term capital, also known as ‘hot money‘, have debilitating effects on the economy, such as a widening current account deficit and an appreciation of the real exchange rate.

Although capital control measures were introduced on 8 August 1995, such responses proved futile. By mid-1997, Thailand’s external debt stood at US$94 billion. Its current account deficit was nearly 8.5% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

In anticipation of the Thai government’s inability to finance their ever-growing foreign debt, foreign investors brought their money out of the nation. On 10 May 1996, the Bangkok Bank of Commerce (BBC) collapsed, causing widespread panic in the financial market. In December 1996, more than 50 percent of the companies listed on the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) declared falling earnings. On 5 February 1997, Somprasong Land Company defaulted.

On 5 February came the first Thai default, by the company Somprasong, on a foreign loan repayment. Later that month, it was announced that the largest of the finance companies, Finance One, was seeking a merger with a bank to stave off collapse. In the face of widespread fears of an impending financial implosion, Financial Minister Amnuay and central bank governor Rerngchai Marakanond suspended trading of financial sector shares on the stock exchange and went on national television to announce a series of emergency measures designed to reassure nervous markets.

An excerpt from “The Asian Financial Crisis and the Architecture of Global Finance” by Gregory W. Noble and John Ravenhill.

Although the Thai Prime Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh had claimed that the baht would never be allowed to devalue, a massive depreciation occurred on 2 July 1997. Subsequently, the Chavalit administration turned to the IMF for help.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that the Asian Financial Crisis was inevitable?

Join our JC History Tuition and learn to answer essay questions on the Asian Financial Crisis. The H2 and H1 History Tuition features enriching and skills-oriented online classes to consolidate what you have learnt at school and apply them to examination-based questions. Get concise study notes and receive tutor feedback to correct your writing errors productively.

We have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics TuitionJC Chemistry TuitionJC 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. For Primary Tuition, we have Primary English Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to learn more.