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A term used, classically by Lenin and Mao Zedong (see Maoism), to describe states that in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were penetrated by imperial capital, trade, and political influence, but which preserved their juridical independence. Examples include Persia, China, Thailand, Afghanistan, Yemen, and Ethiopia. Factors seen as enabling such countries to maintain their independence include the strength of indigenous states, geographical remoteness, lack of desirable resources, cultural and military resistance, and (most importantly) competition between Great Powers. Semi-colonial status often meant states avoided significant capitalist development. The term has sometimes been misapplied to Japan. See also colonialism; neo-colonialism.

Subjects: Social sciencesSociology

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