Economy of East Asia

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The economy of East Asia is one of the most successful regional economies of the world. It is home of some of the world's largest and most prosperous economies: Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea.

Major positive factors have ranged from favorable political-legal environments for industry and commerce, through abundant natural resources of various kinds, to plentiful supplies of relatively low-cost, skilled and adaptable labor.

In modern societies, a high level of structural differentiation, functional specialization, and autonomy of the economic system from government is a major contributor to industrial-commercial growth and prosperity. Currently in East Asia, trading systems are relatively open; and zero or low duties on imports of consumer and capital goods etc. have considerably helped stimulate cost-efficiency and change.

Free and flexible labor and other markets are other important factors making for high levels of business-economic performance.

East Asian populations have demonstrated rapid learning capabilities and high intelligence – skills in utilizing new technologies and scientific discoveries – and putting them to good use in production. Work ethics in general tend to be highly positive.

In conclusion, there are relatively large and fast-growing markets for consumer goods and services of all kinds.

Its success has led to it being dubbed "An East Asian renaissance" by the World Bank.[1]

Modern History[edit]

East Asia became an area of economic power starting with the Meiji Restoration in the late 19th century when Japan rapidly transformed itself into the only industrial power outside Europe and the United States. Japan's early industrial economy reached its height in World War II when it expanded its empire and became a major world power. After its defeat and economic collapse after the war, Japan's economy recovered in the 1950s with the post-war economic miracle in which rapid growth in the Japanese economy propelled the country into the world's second largest economy by the 1980s.

In the early 1960s, the British colony of Hong Kong became the first of the Four Asian Tiger economies by developing strong textile and manufacturing industries and by the 1970s, had solidified itself as a global financial center and was quickly turning into a developed economy.[2] Following in the footsteps of Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore soon industrialized thanks to government policies. By 1997, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and South Korea joined Japan as developed economies in East Asia, while Singapore became the sole developed economy in Southeast Asia. Additionally, the economy of Macau, then a Portuguese colony, was also experiencing rapid growth during this period through textile manufacturing and the development of a gambling industry, which resulted in high levels of foreign investment into the territory.[3] Macau replaced Las Vegas as the world's largest gambling center in 2007.[4]

Present growth in East Asia has now shifted to Mainland China. As of early 2016, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong are the four East Asian countries or regions that are considered developed markets by most economic indexes, and Singapore is the sole developed market by all economic indexes in Southeast Asia. Since the end of the 20th century, Japan's role as the principal economic power in the region has shifted to the Four Asian Tiger economies and more recently, China, which became world's second largest economy in 2010.[5] Furthermore, a 2012 report by The Economist noted that South Korea is expected to overtake Japan in terms of GDP per person at power purchasing parity by 2017, a feat already accomplished by Macau (2010), Taiwan (2010), Hong Kong (1997), and Singapore (1993).[6]


Among the major policy choices commonly adopted in East Asia, and noticeably less so elsewhere in the developing world are openness to foreign trade, significant levels of government savings and an emphasis on education for both boys and girls. While these attributes were far from universally applied, they are conspicuously present in the region to a much larger degree than is the case elsewhere.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gill, Indermit Singh; Kharas, Homi; et al. (2007), An East Asian Renaissance: Ideas for Economic Growth (PDF), Washington, DC: World Bank, ISBN 0-8213-6747-1 
  2. ^ EhNet. "EhNet." "Hong Kong article."
  3. ^ Chan, S. S. (2000). The Macau Economy. Macau: Publications Centre, University of Macau. ISBN 99937-26-03-6. 
  4. ^ Barboza, David (January 24, 2007). "Asian Rival Moves Past Las Vegas". The New York Times. 
  5. ^ China Overtakes Japan as World's Second-Biggest Economy
  6. ^ Asian economic rankings: A game of leapfrog
  7. ^ Emerging Asia: Changes and Challenges, pp. 68-69. ADB 1997 ISBN 971-561-105-2.

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