Asia is a region of contradictions. It is home to three of the world’s top six economic powerhouses – China, Japan and India. A number of Asian economies have transformed themselves to become manufacturing and export hubs over the last 20 to 30 years. The region also boasts of some of the fastest-growing consumer markets in the world. However, at the same time, Asia is plagued by several key challenges – weak institutions and governance, underdeveloped workforce skills, unequal growth distribution and serious infrastructure deficit, among others.
The panel will examine some of the reasons for Asia’s economic resurgence, which some analysts have termed “…a return to its historical economic and political dominance”. It will also highlight some of the divergences in regional economic development and offer possible solutions to the polarity.
In the first single chronicle of the modern economic and political history of the whole continent, Prasenjit Basu weaves together a compelling account of how Asia’s nations overcame European domination in the twentieth century – and its legacies of war and famine – to begin the long climb to economic dynamism.
Asia Reborn gives particular credence to the catalytic role Japan played as leader of Asia’s rebirth. As Basu recounts, the most prosperous parts of Asia in the second half of the century were those that had been ruled by Japan, while those parts of Asia that were ruled longest by the British were its poorest. In Taiwan, Korea and Manchuria, the Japanese built physical infrastructure, modernised land tenure, invested in heavy industries and vastly boosted literacy. That legacy proved vital in launching them onto the path of modern economic growth, while former European colonies were debilitated by the social conflicts engendered by colonial policy. |