Southeast Asia today
Southeast Asia in 1899
In 1899 Thailand was the sole independent nation (a kingdom) in Southeast Asia. The remainder were claimed as the colonial possessions of European powers. Present day Malaysia and Burma were a part of the British Empire. Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos comprised French Indochina. All of the vast Indonesian archipelago and the Western part of New Guinea were a colonial possession of the Netherlands. The Philippine Islands were recognized as a possession of Spain, although under challenge in the north by an independence movement and with dubious claims to the southern one-third of the archipelago. To the south, Australia was still a year and a half from becoming a Commonwealth (even then continuing to acknowledge the Queen of England as the sovereign). To the north China was in complete disarray as imperial rule crumbled and European powers (Russia, Germany, Great Britain, France, Germany) and the Empire of Japan took advantage of the chaos to slice off large large "concessions" and render impotent the power of the Emperor.