East Asia


Sometimes called the "Post-Confucian" states. China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Vietnam are all heavily influenced by traditional Chinese culture. China, Vietnam and North Korea have been controlled by communist governments. But Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea and Japan have used a modified (with strong government direction of investment ) form of free market economy and have been the most successful imitators of the western industrial system. Hong Kong has had an almost pure free market system.

Japan indeed was the world's main industrial power in 1995.

(Since 1995 Japan has suffered a long depression and failure to grow. Had it reached the peak of economic development? The huge bubble of property prices burst and the whole economy seemed unable to recover. Perhaps its aging population, without immigration, may be the real cause.) This was a situation similar to tnat which later affected the United States, Europe and some other areas in 2007-9.

The Confucian countries seem to show the advantages of heavy spending on education, coupled with high profit margins (low wages) and a very high rate of saving and investment with a very low expenditure on the military. But the maturer economies - Japan - now pay high wages. In the last 30 years they have grown faster than the traditional western economies, Britain, the US, Germany and France. Will they become the dominant economic force in the world? Will China achieve the same success as Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong (all controlled by Overseas Chinese)? If China gives up the Communist dictatorship it may outperform them all.(1995)
In the 10 years since that was written, China has not given up the dictatorship but has grown at a very fast rate until it threatens to absorb all the world's manufacturing of consumer goods. It is now an economic giant and is influencing the supply of raw materials.

Associated with China are a number of potential military conflicts. One of these is the problem of Taiwan. Until the last ten years this was a more advanced country than mainland China, but now is relatively stagnant economically. Its military power comes mainly from the protection it gets from the United States. But as the United States has become financially dependent on China this protection must be uncertain.

It is a fixed policy of China that Taiwan, which has a democratic system of recent origin, must join the mainland as a Province. Would China try to seize it by force? Probably not directly.

Other military problems are in the two Koreas, where North Korea has nuclear weapons (it says) and the South has the economic development.

 China  North Korea  Mongolia
 Hong Kong  South Korea  Taiwan



Last revised 25/05/09


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