Evolution of a Global City State

7 July 2016

Firstly, we can define being strategic as the abilities that one has to outdo one’s competitors and rivals, staying ahead of changes at given circumstances, hence successfully standing out amongst all the competitors and rivals one has. In the context of regional hubs being strategic in the pre-colonial Malay world. Any regional hubs that stood out successfully, beating his rival ports can be considered strategic. Regional hubs stood out because of inheriting strategic locations, achieved “strategicness” by differentiating themselves and gaining thrust to “strategicness” by various external factors.

All these factors do compliment each other for the rise and fall of regional hubs. Being born strategic means regional hubs were positioned strategically at places, which were easily accessible by traders. Traders back then travels by sailing ships, which takes weeks or months to complete a round of trade, hence location of the hub is extremely important for regional hubs to stay strategic. Sailing of such ships are determined by wind patterns such as the trade and monsoon winds.

Evolution of a Global City State Essay Example

[1] The trade winds blows from southern Thirtieth Parallel towards Equator in north-westerly direction. Where as the monsoon wind has 2 seasons. The Southwest monsoon winds from July to September that brings Arabia and Indian traders. Northeast monsoon wind winds from November to January, which brings traders from Bay of Bengal to ports such as Acheh in northeast Sumatra and Kota Cina [2] Though being born strategic is crucial, it does not contribute to the rise and fall of the regional hubs. Ports will not generally change their locations geographically.

Moreover, climate and wind patterns are unlikely to change drastically that will cause a change in the influx of traders to the region, hence the rise and fall of regional hubs. Achieving “strategicness” plays a huge role on the rise and fall of a regional hub. It refers to the man-made unique factors individual regional strived to processes to gain competitiveness in the region. Those ports that were consider achieved strategicness had successfully distinct and differentiate themselves from the rest of the ports in the region.

Temasek regional hub, it differentiated itself in trade. Temasek catered to the economic demands in the Asian market and Riau Archipelago by providing unique product that cannot be obtained in other regions. Temasek achieved strategicness by proving unique products – Hornbill casques of very fine quality, lakawood of medium quality and cotton. The goods that Temasek provided for the traders were of an exceptional quality, [3] compared to the rest whom provided goods of unknown coarse and inferior quality. Hence Temasek achieved its “strategicness” amongst its competitors.

Even after the fall of Temasek because of the revert in Chinese maritime policies, Melaka grasped the right opportunity to tie up with the Chinese court to gain “strategicness” over the region. [4] Therefore, achieving “strategicness” is a key factor contributing to the rise and fall of the regional hubs. If a regional hub did not differentiate itself from the rest or grasped the right opportunities, it will lose its grip of the regional economy. Attaining “strategicness” thrust can be considered the most adequate description for the rise and fall of many regional hubs.

These are factors caused by external changes, causing the regional hub to stay competitive and strategic. The shift of Asian economic context in the late 10th century has created a change of trading environment to be a more conducive one for the pre-colonial Malay world. Before the 11th century, private traders were prohibited from trading overseas; the Chinese Court dominated the entire maritime economy. The lift of ban of private Chinese traders to travel abroad had created a gradual liberalization of the Chinese maritime economy.

[5] This change had the greatest impact on the economy of the ports in Melaka Straits region. The growth of direct participation of private Chinese traders with the ports in Melaka Straits region thus eroded the importance of an entrepot. Port-states such as Palembang and subsequently Jambi in Sumatra began to lose control of the ports subsumed to them. The need for entrepot to facilitate goods is obsoleted, because the ports which previously subsumed under the entrepot, such as Tamesek were then able to pursue economical and political fortunes independently.

[6] In addition, Jambi, was one of the entrepot of the time was invaded and overthrown by Singhasura. [7] The fall of Jambi resulted to an economic vacuum of trade in the region. This gave even more opportunities for more port settlements such as Temasek [8] to flourish along the Straits of Melaka. The fall of Temasek was also closely tied to the change of Chinese maritime policies after Zhu Yuanzhang overthrew the Mongols in 1368. [9] Hence, external thrust can play a huge role on the rise and fall of regional hubs.

Lastly, all the three factors of being born strategic, achieved “strategicness” and gaining strategic thrust were important for the regional hubs to stay competitive. However achieving “strategicness” and having a strategic thrust can play a more significant role in the rise and fall of regional hubs. As being born 10strategic will not be the only factor for the rise and fall of regional hubs. Hence, the statement is appropriate to a certain extent.

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