Change was sweeping Asia in early modern times, and the general trend was one of internal political consolidation. These centralizing governments sought to suppress dissent, encourage religious unity, and expand at the expense of weaker neighbors, often using new military technologies to achieve this end. Russian consolidation was held together with orthodoxy serving as a glue that allowed for territorial growth, and the eventual foundation of the Romanov dynasty. China progressed from the Ming to the outsider, Manchu Qing dynasty with little issue, but China’s demand for silver for impacted global trade markets, and helped to promote isolation. Japan used the shogunate to isolate itself while creating a distinct natural culture, as Korea and mainland Southeast Asia followed similar acts of isolation and political centralization. The Philippines, discussed in the Counterpoint of this chapter, serve as both an outlier, as Catholicism was readily accepted and political consolidation came from foreigners, and also as a foreshadowing of the long outside domination that many parts of East and Southeast Asia were soon to experience.

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