*** economics country trends Asia

Economics -- Asian Country Trends

Chinese agriculture
Figure 1.--There is a tendency in the West to associate the industrial revolution with poverty and terrible living standards. In fact the opposite was true. The indistrial revolution generated wealth. It was the countries like China in the 19th and early 20th centuries that had not founded capitalist economies and begun the industrial revolution that were by any measure really poor. Here are two Chinese peasant boys near Port Arthur/Dalien in Northeastern China. They are using farming methods that date to the medieval era. Source: Keystone View Company.

China has economically dominated most of Asia beyond the Himilayas economically. The agricultural revolution and the birth of civilization occurred first in the Middle East. This occured later in China, but entirely independently. For most of history until the Renaissance in Europe, China was more advanced in most indicators of civilization than the the West. China was wealthier and more technologically advanced that the West. The Europeans found it difficult, both over the Silk Road and than the maritime Sice Route to find products to offer the Chinese for the silks and porcelin that were in demand in Europe. Thus bullion flowed from Europe to China. This relationship only began to noticeably shift as a result of the industrial revolution and the development of modern science (18th century). A key question is why did China was so advanced did capitalism and the industrial revolution occur in Europe rather than China. The Chinese imperial system resisted what they saw as fireign ways. The only vibrant Asian economy, largely because of capitalism, was Japan. And this enabled Japan to dominate East Asia until defeat in the Pacific War. In the 20th century despite the obvious success of capitalism, many in Asia turned to socialism. This occurred in India despite the British relationship (1946) and it occurred in China with the victory of the Communists (1948). China launched into a massive, radical experiment with socialism. Most other Asian countries at the time of independence after World War II also began socialist experiments of various types. The result was economic failure throughout Asia and in the case of China one of the most disaterous famines in history. In several countries, living standards fell below colonial standards. A group of countries which became known as the Asian Tigers (South Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan) startked the world with what capitalism can achieve. Eventually China and India turned to capitalism and the result was to lift more people out of poverty than ever before in human history.



Bangladesh is one of the poorest countries in the world. The majority of the populatiom work in agriculture. Some progress has been made increasing harvests. Income is very low, largely because of the many small land holdings. The service industries have been expanding and now account for over half of the country's GDP. The poverty is largely attributed to weak institutions, poverty, and too much government involvement in the economy, make extebsive corruption possible. This all makes economic development difficult as well as fueling social and political unrest. Interestingly while Islamists commonly demonstrate against the West on which they blame the country's emense difficulties. Bangladesh receives relatively large inflows of remittances from foreign countries where people have emigrated to for jobs, primarily to the Middle Eastern oil countries. Remitences from the United States alone amount to about $100 million annually. Islamist groups threaten Bangladesh's fragile democracy and pluralist traditions inherited from the British Raj. The current government, led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed, is attempting to curtail their influence.


Burma like the other countries of Southeast Asia had incredibly rich agriciltural potential. The country was an important rice exporter. It also became the main trade route between India and China (since 100 BC). The Mon Kingdom of lower Burma became an important regional trading center in the Bay of Bengal. Burma was collinized by the British 19th century). During the British colonial era, Burma's ecinonic potential began to be efficiently utilized. The agricultural pharvesrs uncreased and the mining industry developed. Burma became the wealthiest country in Southeast Asia and for a time the world's largest rice exporter of rice. Burma under British rule had a highly literate population. Burmese rice exports fed Bengal in India. Burma with its raw materials and agicultural produvtion was an important target after Japan launched the Pacific War. Japanese iccupation ended rice exports to Bengal causing a terrible famone (1943-44). Under Japanese rule rice havests declined (1942-45). Britain as with Infdua granted indeoendence after World War II. As with much of the Third World, Burmese nationalist leaders believed that Socialism was the way to rapid developmenfr and prosperity. A parliamentary government was formed (1948). Prime Minister U Nu launched a progeam of economic nationalism. The new Government implemented a tpical Socialish Eight-Year plan. It was an economic disaster. Rice exports in this incredivly rich agricultural country fell by an incredible two thirds. Mineral exports fell by more than 96 percent. The military seized power (1962). They implemented another dusaterous economic program--the Burmese Way to Socialism. The center piece was for the Government to nationalize all industries. The impact of these two economic programs was to turn this incredibly tirich country into one of the world's poorest countries.


Cambodia astride the Mekong River has some of the richest most productive land in the world. The land is constanly rejuvenated by the silt-rich Mekong. The country was an important rice-culture farming area (first and second millennia BC). The important Kymer Civilization (6th-13th century AD) was based on the prodigious agricultural productivity of the land when supportd by irrigation infrastructure. The Kymers built a complex irrigatiin system (9th century AD). The Kymers and other states in Southeast Asia engaged in trade in the Indian Ocean, exported rice surpluses to counties with rice defecits. The Khmers looked down on commerce. This is one reason that the Chinese or Chinese-Khmers became a dominnt role in trade and commerce. They would be a major trget of the Kymer Rouge. The French who colonized Cambodia left the large feudal landholdings largely intact. They developed modern infrastructure, including roads and a railway and intriduced new crops, kincluding rubberand corn. With independence, Prince Sihanouk pursued a policy of economic independence and attempted to remain neutral as waer ebveloped jis country. He obtained aid and investment from different countries. North Vietnamese forces used Cambodia as a safe-haven and as part of the Ho Chi Minh Trail. They began supporting the Kymer Rouge. The war thus spilled over the border and Prince Sihanouk began losing control ovr large areas of hos country. Rice productio suffered, Lon Nol who ousted Sihanouk desired to liberalize the economy, but steadily lost territory to the increasingly well-armed Kymer Rouge. Immeduaitely upon winning the cicil war (1975), the Kymer Rouge emptied Pnom Penh and the country's other cities. They proceeded to implement their fanatical vision of pure Comminism, essentially mirdering anyone with a education--the Cambodian Genocide. They implemented a Four Year Plan, making the rest of the population state slaves working long hours on communes. The result was a decline in rice production and widespread hunger in a country with trendous agricultural potential. The Vietnamese expelled the Kymer Rouge (1978). The regime put in place a Soviet-style planned economy and a Five Year Plan. The goal was to improve agriculture and promote industry. The slogan was 'export and thrift'. The reult as in Vietnam was widespread poverty. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the bject fau=ilure of Comminist ecomomics forced the Government to adopt some market reforms. Political insatbility has impeded ecoomic progress. Cambodia is tiday a mixed evomomy based largely on agriculture. Industrial development is minimal.


China has economically dominated most of Asia beyond the Himilayas economically. The agricultural revolution and the birth of civilization occurred first in the Middle East. This occured later in China, but entirely independently. One of the interesting questions in economics is why China which throughout the medieval era led Europe technologically did not lauch the industrial revolution. Many of the important technological innovations that fed into the industrial rrevolution began in China. Marco Polo was astonished by riches and tecnological level of Chinas. European navigators sought routes to China because it was so much richer than Europe with products highly coveted in Europe. But it was in Europe tha modern science emerged along with capitalism and the indistrial revolution. As a result, by the 19th century China had declined to a basckward country unable to defend itself from more technicall advanced foreign powers. The Europeans generally confined their commercial activities top coastal cities, but the Japanese drove into the heart of China in an effort to convert it into a colonial depedency prioviding a stable market and raw materials (1937). At the same time a domestic struggle develiped between the Nationalists and Communists. The Communist victory achieved by May Tse-tung (1949) condemned China to four decades of economic failure and one of the worst famines in Chinese history. The Great Leap Forward was followed by the even more disatrous Cultural Revolution which ruined both lives and stilted economic actgivity. Finally the free market economic reforms of Deng Deng Xiaoping and engagement with the West (1980s) has brought about an economic revolution that at long last is unleasing the economic energy of the Chinese people. There are mabny questions about the Chinese economy which are difficult to assess in a closed system, but there is no doubt thast since adopting caspitalist reforms, never before in humazn history have more people hsve been lifted from poverty in such a short period. Another unanswered question about China is if capitalism can proper under a system of political dictatorship.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong and Taiwan along with Portuguese Macau were the two areas of China not taken over by the Communists in the Civil War (1948). As a result, there were test cases in the developing Cold War. In these areas, especially Hong Kong and Taiwan, officials pursued capitalist free market principles while Mao pursued a radical Communist program of collectivization and nationlization. The result was not just economic stagnation, but the most terrible famine in human history. Few countries perhaps with the exception of North Korea and Cambodia have a worst economic performance. In comparison Hong Kong and Taiwan (the areas of China not under Communist control) which not only retained capitalism and market forces, but made these principles the cornerstone of the economic system. Hong Kong became one of many plaves where people voted with threir feet against Communism and Socialism and for Capitalism. The result was stunning successes. They became two of the phenomely successful Asian Tigers with their vibrant economies, in large part because they were some of the world's freest economies. Hong Kong's rise began as a service economy offering low-priced, but high-qualiyty goods because of low wages. On this base, Hong Kong created a modern prosperous economy which now offers its people European level affluence. Shanghai had been China's financial center. Hong Kong had also been important, but after the Comminist victory, Hong Kong became a leading international financial center with a strong service-based economy. Hong Kong offered low taxes, the rule of law, virtually free port trade, a trusted international financial market, and a first class education system. And it did all this without any natural resource--except the drive and hard work of its people. The Chinese Communists as they took over Hong Kong pledged to retain the character of this vibrant capitalist enclave (1997). Hong Kong is to continue to be a free port and allow its laws to remain unchanged for 50 years. Its first chief executive, Tung Chee-hwa, announced a policy agenda based on the concept of 'one country, two systems'. A now often repeated formulation. The stated idea was to preserve Hong Kong's economic independence.


Trade between Europe and India was well developed in ancient times. Just as China as noted for porcelin and silk, India was note for metalurgy and cotton. The Europeans had the same difficulty with the Indian trade that that that with China. The Chinese and Indians had many items the Europeans coveted, but relatively little too offer with the exception of gold and silver bullion. Important Indian trade goods were colorful cotton textiles. Cotton was a fabric not widely available in Europe until the 18th century. The Arab outburst and conquest of the Middle East (7th century) cut Europe off from India for eight centuries--almost a millenium. The Portuguese restablished contact with India (15th century). By this time the country was divided into many principalities, but still produced many valuable trade goods. The Europeans gradually expanded their footholds in India clminating in the struggle between Britain and France during the Seven Years War to control the Subcontinent. This led to the creation of the Bruitish Raj. The impact ot the Raj is still a widely debated topic in India. A united India, the English ;anguage, and democracy are three primary impacts, all with economic consequences. In more direct economic terms, the British brought modern technology and created the foundation of India's modern infrastructure. The British were interested in markets for the expanding output of the Industrial Revolution. This undercut domestic production which was largely handicrafts, thus adversely affecting the livlihoods of many Indians. The British also failed to deal with a terrible famine in Bengal. The British also implanted the foundation for a robust free market econonomy. This foundation was largely unappreciated by India's leaders at indeoendence. Ghandi was a champion of handicraft most notably domestic spinning and ???. Nehru and other Congress leaders were impressed with Soviet development and pursued statist solutions to development. The result was large state-owned industries which were inefficent and uncompetitive on the international market. The state industrues and huge beaureacracy proved an enormous drag on development. Economic reforms begun in the 1990s have begun to unleash the power of the free market. The result has been an enormous expansion of the Indian economy and growth of a prosperous middle class. India's economy today is probably the most diverse in the world. There is traditional village farming almost untouched by the modern world along with modern agriculture. There is handicrafts production alongside modern industries. There is also a large, increasingly sophisticated services sector. Much of the growth of the economy in recent years has come in the services sector which is responsible for about half of GNP using less than one third of the labor force.


Japan unlike China faced major obstacles to developing a productive economy. There were very few natural resources and limited arable agricultural land. Medieval Japasn was a very conservastive society with son following his father in the fields ot trade. The arrival of the Europeans and spread of Christianity began fed on existing forces which were destabiling society (16th century). The Shogun decided to liquidate the Christians and expel the Europeans, except for a small Dutch trading community. Foreigners who landed in Japan were executed which tended to limit foreign commerce. This continued until the arrivasl mof Commodore Perry and his black ships (1853). Insightful Japanese leaders observing what was hapening in China, realized that they would have to modernize or be taken over by the foreigners. The first step was the Mejii Restoration whih ended the Shogunaste. Thus super-isolated Japan became the first Asian country to introduce Western methods and industrialize. The relationship between industry and military power was lkear. The country, however, took to economic moderization much quicker than to political modernization. Japanese leaders influenced by 19th century European colonization concluded that Japan would need a coloniasl empire to provide both raw materials and a masrket for industrial production. This attitude became particulsrly entrenched within the military. The result was first a long-drawn out war in China and then unable to defeat China, the Japanerse military decided to attack the United states. While Japan had built a sizeable industrial establishmednt, it was dwarfed by American industry. The result was the bloody Pacific war and national disaster. One of the great economic success stories of the 20th century was the recovery amd modernization of Japan following World War II. From the American occupation, Japan emerged both an economic powerhouse and a modern democratic country. Japan experienced economic stagnation (1990s). And the lost decade has become two lost decades. Japan today is one of the most important industrial nations. Demographic trends with the aging population is creating major problems.


Korea has a long history as has for centuries maintained its independence from both powerful neigbiring states, China and Japan. We do not yet have any information on the economy of ancient Korea. We have somne information on more modern era. The Chosŏn/Joseon dynasty dominated Korea for 5 centuries (1392-1910). The Chosŏn/Joseon imposed a tribute command system on largely peasant economy. The Chosen collected taxes in non-monetary forms in the form of products and commodities. They also mobilizing labor services in the form of a corvée. This was not a very efficent system and was static, limiting reade and economic growth. It was the originopf the term 'Hermit Kingdom'. It was, however, not only a way to collect taxes, but for the Chosŏn/Joseon to control the population. It did enable the Chosŏn/Joseon to obtain the food, handicrafts, and labor it needed or desired. Korea gradually fell behind the neigboring China and Japan. A Korean scholar calls it Malthusian stagnation. [Cha] Invading aemies from China and Japan began to rave the countryy (late-16th centurty). This shattered Korea's command system. The Chosŏn/Joseon as a result could not prevent a shift to more market-based economic activity. The Chosŏn/Joseon bureaucracy was badly damnaged by the invasions. They began to demand takes in commodities with a money value maning easily traded. Two of the most important were rice and cotton textiles. In turn, they began minting copper coins and eased restrictions on tradeand commerce. The invading armies and wars seriously damaged the traditional Chosŏn/Joseon labor system, both slavery and forced labor services. Thus labor markets began to emerge. The Chosŏn/Joseon over their long history at times were independent and at other times a client state, especially of China. The Meiji Restoration and begining of industrialization in Japan altered the traditional balance. Japan emetged victorious in the Sino Japanese War (1894-95) and then the Russo-Japanese war (1904-05). This enabled Japan to convert Korea from a Chinese client statre to a Japanese colony (1909). Japan annexed Korea as a colonial ruler began to make wide-spread changes in the Korean economy. Japanese rule was brutal and suppressed all vestages of Korean nationlism, including the use of the language. They intoiduced a range of modern economic changes while exploiting their new colony's developing economy. Japan founded Korea's industrial econmy. Most of the new industry was in the north where most of the raw matetrial needed by industry was located. The south remained mostly agricultural. Japan committed national suiside by launching the Pacific War (1941). One of the results of Japan's defeat was the end of colonial rule in Korea (1945). Korea was occupied by the World War II victors, the United States in the south and the Soviet Union in the north. Noth Korea invaded the South in an effort to unify the country, launching the Korean War (1950-53). This brough untold destruction and death, but changed the border little. A capitalist democracy developed in the south and a Communist totalitarian state in the north. The results were staggering. A rich vibrant market economy with world class industry emerged in the south. The command ecinomy in the north has brough economic decline, hunger, and repression. One Korean scholar writes, "The post colonial decades, when living standards improved rapidly in South Korea, while North Korea returned to the world of disease and starvation. The dramatic history of living standards in Korea presents one of the most convincing pieces of evidence to show that institutions, particularly the government, matter for economic growth."


The Malay Peninsula is a extended road block imdedding occean commerce between east and west. As a result, the Straits of Malacca are a major chokepoint in East-West trade. This was the case well before the Europeans era. Thus piracy from an early time was an important economic activity. The importance of the Malay Peninsula in trade drew Chinese merchants and the need to combat piracy drew the British to Malaya. The British established a major base at Singapore at the tip of the Peninsula and the eastern terminus of the Straits. Once there the British searched for resources to exploit. And they eventually found that the climate was perfect for rubber. British-contolled Malaya became the major world producer of rubber. The strategic importance of Singapore and the rubber are why the Japanese placed Malaya in the Southern Resource Zone (SRC) they sought to conquer during the Pacific War. There were also important mineral resources, including oil and tin. Malaysia at the time of independence (1957) still had an economy largely based on agriculture and the export of raw materials. This gradually began to change after the War and the British defeated the Communist insurgency. At the time Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan were emerging as the Asian Tigers. The growth in Malaysia was not as spectacular as in the other Asian Tigers, but it was still impressive. There are several factors involved in Malaysia's economic success, including free-market capitalism, British legal traditions, moderate Islam permitting democratic rule and communal peace, and valuable natural resources. The economic dynamism of Singapore was another important factor. The Asian Tigers unlike countries like Burma, China, Indonesia, and India were unburned by failed, costly experiments in socialist economics. A major problem faced by Malaysia was that the large Malay population was not only undeucated, but suspious of Western-style secular education--especially for girls. Malsaysia gradually developed a vibrant multi-sector economy. A series of government plans have aided economic growth. The country�s natural resources (agriculture, forestry, and mining) helped provide needed funding and investment capital. Geography, especially the Strait of Malacca made their country an important international shipping crossroad. The developmernt of an important manufacturing sector is particularly notable. Agriculture today involves only a small part of the population. Most Malaysians work in the industry and sevices sectors.


Mongolia is a vast landlocked country in East Central Asia, srounded by Russia on the north and China on the south, east and west. It is dominated by the vast Eurasian Steppe. While the country is vast, it has a very small population, only about 3 million people. Most in the West have given little thought to Mongolia and the Mongolian economy. In fact Mongolia in connection with China has played a pivotal role in world history and economics. When China was strong and united it pressured the Mongols and other steppe people to move west. This was the source of pressure on Europeans. It was attacks by Steppe people that drove the Germanic peoples west into the Roman Empire (4th-6th centuries AD). And some Steppe people actually reached Europe, including the Avars and Huns (5th century AD). The most famous of course were the Mongols themselves led by Genghis Kahn. In this case the Mongols had conquered China anf then turned west. Mongolia from gime immemorial has had an economy based on grazing livestock on the vast Asian steppe. Mongolia's rise to empire was based on the fact that the Steppe was crossed by the fabeled Silk Road between China and Europe--a huge source of wealth. The advent of maitime commerce between Asia and Europe undermined the Silk Road--the principal source of wealth for the Mongol Empire. Mongolia never adapted a culture that pursued knowledge and technology and thus as these cultural elements became increasingly important, Mongolia receeeded to the backwaters of worls history and its opeople descended intom poverty, becoming one of the poorest countries in the world. In the 20th century, the country's geographic position forced it into the Communist system and poverty entrenching destructive socialist economics. The country had been traditionally associated with China, but after the Russian Revolution (1917), the Soviet Union became the dominant influence. Socialist economic policies forced on Mongolia did little to midernize rge country, although the Soviers offered some aid. Russia abruptly stopped its aid after the disintegration of the Soviet Union (1992). This proved to be a benefit for ther country because it forced the adoption of free market reforms. For the next decade, Mongolia suffered a deep recession, following which it has made substantial progress with major economic reforms, centered around the adoption of free-market economic structure and privatization of the formerly hihj;y inefficent state-run economy. As in the Soviet Union, state enterprises prodiced good and services that were worth less than the raw material inputs used to produce them. Mongolia's economy is still largely based on agriculture, but has rapidly grown in importance. Mongolia is rich in copper, gold, coal, molybdenum, fluorspar, uranium, tin and tungsten deposits, which has been attracting foreign direct investment. As a result, copper, coal, molybdenum, tin, tungsten and gold account for a large part of industrial production.


Nepal is a very poor country. Percapita income in 2016 ws about $2,500. One ranking places Nepal 199th out of 230 countries around the world. [CIA] The Nepalese economy is based on agriculture and herding, but it is changing. Servives now dominate the econnomy in terms of output value (50 percent) and is growing. Agriculture (35 percen) is still the next most important sector, but contracting. Industry (15 percent) is relatively limited and not growing. Agriculture while not the most important sector by value is still how most Napalis make their living (over 75 percent). Agriculture is this mounatneous country is mostly conducted in the Terai region bordering India. Crops include: tea, rice, corn, wheat, sugarcane, root crops, and fruit. Livestock poducts include milk. and water buffalo meat. Industry primarily involves the processing of agricultural produce, including jute, sugarcane, tobacco, and grain. Modernizing the economy is limited by a shortage of skilled labor. Almost all of the country's trade is with India and China (Tibet). Nepal like mos of the contries that emerged from the post-World War decomonization procss adopted statist-sovialist policies. Unlike its neigbors to the north and south, thre has been no significat efforts at market reforms. A free market asessment reports, "Nepal�s economy lacks the entrepreneurial dynamism needed for stronger economic growth and long-term development. Overall, weak reform efforts have failed to stimulate broad-based poverty reduction. The state continues to hinder private-sector development, and political instability further weakens the capacity to implement economic reform or create a stable development environment." [Heritage Foundation] A problem here has been political instability and ethnic divisions. The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist-Center) is a strong force in Nepalese politics and does not support the business-friendly market policis that might help moderize the Nepalese economy as they have in China and India.


Modern Pakistan is a South Asian country that was established in 1947. Its is suronded by India, Iran, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and China. It also has an Arabian Sea (Indian Ocean) coastline. The interior is dominanted by the Karakoram and Pamir mountains in the northern and western highlands of the country. This includes K2 and Nanga Parbat which are counted among the highest peaks in the world. The major cities are Quetta, Gawadar, Peshawar, Sialkot, Multan and Faisalabad. Agriculture dominates the economy amf most of the arable land is in the Indus River valley. This was the center of the little known Indus Valley civilization. We have little economic information on these people or the many kingdoms which followed until the conquest ofvthe area by the Moguls led by Barbur (16th century). This was about the same time that the first European traders reached the sub-Continent. The Mpgul Empire was incredibly wealthy and productive. The early Mogul emperors were open and tolerant, the economy and trade thrived. The Miogul Empire was richer than any European country and on a compatavle economic plane. The greatest Mogul ruler would prove to be Baber's grandson Akbar, one of the great statesmen of world history. The Moguls brought Islam to Hindu India, but a tolerant, open version in which trade and scholarship flourished. The enlightened tolerant Mongul rule ended with Aurangzeb (17th century). He was intolerant of other religions and in the wars that followed, the Mogul Empire receeded as did the economy of the sub-Continent, allpwing the Europeans, especially the British to seize control. And what became known as the Raj became technologically backward. The British helped developed modern infranstructure and schools. Sibce achieving independence, Pakistan has made little progress in developing a modern economy. This has been impaired by both nationalist disputes with India over Khasmir and Islamic religioous fanaticism. Pakistan's leaders persist in military adventures and now terrorist attacks to revover Khasmir. Like the later Moguls, Islamic fanaticism and intolerance has proven terribly distructive. Pakistan has, as a result, failed to enter the modern world. Technology is almost completely imported from the West. And for some reason few Pakistanis asked themselves why this is. Education is poorly developed and often consisting of religious indoctrination. As a result there are no Pakistanis that can report any scientific achievements, unless they leave the country to sudy amd/or work in the West. Little girls who dare to speak openly are shot in the head--Malala Yousafzai. There is vurtually no foreign investment because of the high level pf violence and religious fanaticism. Pakistani businessmen seek markets in the West, utilizing the low wages prevalent in the country, but at the same time many harbor virulently anti-Western views and the country harbors terrorist like Osama bin Laden. Workers unable to find work in their own country flee to more modern countries and support their families through remitences. And what is truly amazing is that most Pakistanis have no idea that they lived in a failed coury or why. Most cling to blamin Britain or America or the lack of Islamic devotion.


Singapore like Hong Kong was created by the British. I began as a tiny, non-descript fishing village liker countless others in Southeast Asia. It became a major outpost of the British Empire. The econmy was initally based on a local market fore regionally produced raw materials. Singapore became a buyer of raw material for processing and export. Singapore achieved indeopence (1965). (After a brief federation with Malaysia.) At the time, there the only significant manufacturing industries were an elemental electrical assembly industry and some oil refining. With independence and favorable policies, these two sectors took off rapidly. There was an especially important expansion of oil refining (1960s). The electronics industry was aided by Texas Instruments which built a semiconductor manufacturing plant (1967). Singapore patriarch Lee Kuan Yew adopted free market capitalism at a time when most newly independent countries persued socialism. Texas Instruments was attracted by tax incentives. Other foreign electronics companies also set up plants. Singapore became an important part of the expamding electronicvs industry. Sinapore mafe a name for itself as an atrractice place to do business in Asia. Pharmaceutical compoanies was the next major industry to enter Singapore. While manufacturing led the way, services followed. By far the most important was financial services. Singapore privided the security need for a final services sector. It was a haven for the violent chaotic situation of neignoring countries. And the exciting life of one of the world's most vibranbt cities became a tourist draw. Singapore free market, capitalist policies including government intervention, low inflation, prudent macroeconomics, have led to high growth and rising incomes. Singapore has developed rapidly into not only a huge port, but major financial center. The result was unlike widespread economic failure in most newly independent countries, Singapore was one of the most successful economies in the world. Singapore became one of the Asian Tigers which achieved rapid economic growth and high percapita incomes. In recent years the Government has been attempting to increase the participation in the higher end manufacturing operations. They are pushing innovation along with research and development so that the country not only assembled compoments. They are also entering biotechnology and other high-tech sectors. The Government wants Singapore to become a center for new ideas to be invented rather than executed. The country has an excellent, modern education system, but on that is not yet producingyoung peole best suited for this change. Manufacturing is, however, only a quarter of the economy. Services are much more important, especially finanaciual services. Singapore was adversely affected by the Asian financial crisis (1997-98). The Government responded with heavy investment in new infrastructure. Stock market trading was liberalized and banking restrictions eased to improve the country's competitive edge over regional comptetitors.

Sri Lanka

The Sri Lankan economy as is the case for most countries has had been primarily agricultural and continued to be so until the late-20th century. The developing economy now includes services, and light industry. Agriculture still accounts for over 20 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) and employs 38 percent of the country's workforce. The agricultural sector includes both cash crops from plantation agriculture and food crops from subsistence agriculture. Plantation cash crops for export include tea, rubber, and coconuts (copra). Sri Lanks was one of the few important rubber producing areas not seized by the Japanese during World War II. Rice is the principal food crop and the main livelihood for over 70 percent of Sri Lanka's rural population. There is also an important fishing industry. Manufacturing accounts for nearly 20 percent of GDP and a little less of the workforce. There is little heavy industry. Manufacturing includes textiles, ceramics, petroleum products, vegetable oils (from copra), fertilizers, and cement. There is a small mining sector. The country has a range of industrial minerals (dolomite, feldspar, ball clay, kaolin, calcite, gemstones, mica, mineral sands, graphite, limestone, phosphate rock, quartz, and silica sand). Sri Lanks does not produce any metals or crude oil and rekles on imported oil for refining. Services have grown substantially in imprtance in recent years/ They are now the country's most imprtant economic sector accounting for 65 percet of the GDP and employing 45 percent of the workforce. The service sector includes tourism, banking, finance, and retail trade. Sri Lanka's was badly damaged by the civil ar between the Sinhalese majority and Tamil separatists (1983-2009). The government faced the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The end of the civil war has helped stabilize the economy and has led to economic growth. The country has a mixed economy, with both a private and state sector. It is not one of the Asian Tigers with a vibrant private setor. Sri Lanka�s economic freedom score is in the mid range of Asian economies. [Heritage Foundation]


Taiwan is one of the great sucess stories of Asia. It is a country with limited national resources that has constructed not only a successful industrial economy, but a vibrant democracy as well. It is one of two large islands located off the coast of China. The other is Hainan located further south. Despite the close location, China until the modern era took virtually no interest in the island and the populatiion was not Chinese, but Austronesian aborigines. There is virtually no mention of Taiwan in Chinese sources. Thus we know virtually nothing about the economy until the Dutch arrived (1622). The Dutch reported a population of about 70,000 aborigines, about 1,000 Chinese, and a few Japanese. The Chinese and Japanese were mostly merchants, male transients. The aborigines had a agricultural economy supplemented by the export of dear hodes. The Dutch conducted an extended campaign to seize seized control (1630s-40s), but made no real attempt to change the economy. Chinese emigration go Taiwan developed. Koxinga, a Chinese-Japanese war lord with a fleet, expelled the Dutch (1661). Chinese emigration to Taiwan continued. The Qing dynasty defeated Koxinga's grandson and seized control (1683). The Qing government originally saw control of Taiwan as financial burden, but necessary to control piracy. The principal Qing policy was to restrict the Chinese emigration to Taiwan. The reason for this was to limit conflict with the aboriginees. Much more information on the Taiwan economy before the First Sino-Japanese War (1895-95) during which the modernizing Japanese Empire stunned China with its new power. Part of the settlement was transferring Taiwan to Japan. The Japanese called it Formosa. Japanese rule was brutal, but it also brought a measure of economic development, particularly basic infrastyructure. Thus at the onset of the Pacific War, Taiwan was more prosperous than China. Taiwan remained agricultural and unlike Korea, there was little Japanese effort to industrialize. The Japanese after the Pacific War were rquired to return Taiwan to China an repatriate Japanese nationals. The Taiwan popiulation was not consulted. After losing the Chinese Civil War, Chiang Kai-check and the Nationalists retreated to Taiwan. The Chinese Communists did not have the naval and air capability to briudge the Taiwan Straits. After the outbreak of the Korean War, the United States extended its security zone to include Taiwan. This also brought increased economic commerce with America. And this led to both South Korea and Taiwan along with Singapore emergging as the economic Asian Tigers. Taiwan prospered under a capitalist system while Mainland China agressivly pursuing socialism languished in poverty and economic stagmation. It is interesting that the to most successful Asian Tigers came from the former Japanese Empire.



Turkmenistan sells natural gas to the Chinese at very high prices comred to natural gas prices in America. The Chinese are hoping to reduce the prices and are negotiating with the Russians who would like to diversify their natural gas markets which are currently mostly European.



Anis, Khurrum. "Pakistan�s army of overseas workers keeps economy afloat," Bloomberg, (March 26, 2013).

Heritage Foundation. Index of Economic Freedom (2019).


Navigate the Children in History Website:
[Return to the Main economics country page]
[Return to the Main Economics page]
[Introduction] [Animals] [Biographies] [Chronology] [Climatology] [Clothing] [Disease and Health] [Economics] [Ethnicity] [Geography] [History] [Human Nature] [Law]
[Nationalism] [Presidents] [Religion] [Royalty] [Science] [Social Class]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Glossaries] [Images] [Links] [Registration] [Tools]
[Children in History Home]

Created: 7:42 AM 11/30/2010
Last updated: 7:06 AM 3/7/2020