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The division of Korea and China into rival regimes at the outset of the Cold War symbolized East Asia’s propensity for polarization according to maritime and continental zones of influence. In a term introduced by British geographer James Fairgrieve, both continental Northeast and Southeast Asia might be considered “crush zones”—regions of contact between Eurasian powers seeking to extend dominance into the Pacific and oceangoing empires searching for a purchase on the Eurasian mainland. Both the history and geography of war in East Asia reflect the uncertainty of relations between states with interests in the region: China, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Russia, Taiwan, and the United States. Vietnam, though perhaps more peripheral in geographic terms, has also been directly drawn into conflicts for control of ...

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