World War 2 in the mid-90’s drew a hard blow and left a serious and lasting effect to many Asian countries. This however, did not hamper the growth of countries such as China, Japan and Vietnam as their government were taking serious steps to recover economically. Thus, the global market cannot deny a place for these ‘Asian Dragons’, because these countries are growing at a tremendous pace to the extent of being capable in emerging as global market leaders. China’s capitalism and boom was born when their president, Deng Xiaoping permitted the provinces to dismantle their communes and collective farms.
This led China to venture into free-market economics, although they were still under the communist political system. When President Deng announced that they needed Western money and expertise, China flung their trade doors wide open and China went on a capitalist drive without ever looking back. By mid 1960’s, the Chinese Revolution settled down to the job of ruling China. Its main goal was essentially nationalist: a prosperous modern economy. While there continued to exist substantially economic inequalities, distribution of wealth was probably a bit more equal than in most Western countries.
While there were great variations in income between different villages, and between different jobs in the urban sector, the overall averages showed a clear pattern: the cities were much richer than the countryside. Most capital investments were going into urban industries. The urban workers, using considerable amount of heavy machinery, had a much higher average level of productivity compared to the rural workers. The natural consequences were for the city people to arrange themselves an average income level twice as high as that of the people in the countryside.
The most obvious way to attack this poverty problem was to increase production, in all sectors of the economy. Though the easiest way to increase production was to increase capital inputs, China could only afford a limited amount of capital construction. In accordance to this, China went on a construction binge. Whole factories were purchased from abroad while others were built with local resources. By 1978, the frenzy for new projects reached a level that reminded some people of the Great Leap Forward.
In an effort to promote agricultural production, the government released many of the restrictions on the ’spontaneous capitalist tendencies’ of the peasantry. (173) In the late 1980’s, the government decided to expand the scope of private marketing. Then the next step was to increase the amount land assigned to the peasants. The peasants were now not responsible to the government for the use they made to the private plots. They simply could grow what the wished, for the sale to the government or to private markets. This led to furious rebuilding and inflow of foreign investments.
All this enabled China to remake itself into Asian’s hub of finance, trade and culture. By 1984, they were producing more than $1 million worth of rice and a range of side products, including rice wine. Their residential earning was up to about $200 a year. (Prager 52) This meant that they could begin replacing their mud-and-straw hats with solid brick houses. Shanghai today is a vast construction site with more than 20,000 projects, with 27,000 companies building bridges, tunnels, flyovers, ring roads, hotels, villas, golf courses and also public housing. This sparked national growth of about 10% a year.
The Chinese now are going home with fat wallets, stocks, bonds and large bank accounts. Banks are reporting that savings have increased sixty fold and is still growing. This has led China to join the world economic community and has become the globe’s third largest economy. China is now ranked 11th in the world in exports of trade goods. (54) Of the coast of China, there was another growing country. Japan recovered tremendously well after the bombing of Hiroshima in World War 2. Under post war conservative governments, Japan made a remarkable economic recovery.
American aid of $2 billion gave an initial boost and then the Korean War acted as a further stimulant by creating a demand for military hardware. (Rich 191) By the early 1970’s, Japan was the world’s third biggest steel producer, one of the biggest ship builders, and ranked very high as a manufacturer of general engineering and chemical goods. Japan’s motorcycles were winning import races in Europe, and Japanese cameras, transistor radios, cars, sewing machines; TV sets and optical goods competed successfully in the global market.
Japan’s economy is second only to the U. S in absolute terms with a G. D. P of $3,385 billion dollars. By 1987, the Japanese were richer than the Americans with per capita income of almost $20,000. (World 247) This was because the Japanese saved five times as much from their paychecks as did the Americans. Lower military spending, a consequence of the Yoshida doctrine, was an essential contributor to Japan’s economic advancement. Japan net assets rose to about $1 trillion and thus making Japan effectively the world’s banker.
In the 50’s through to the 70’s, the Japanese economy was averaging 11% of growth. (250) The Bank of Japan backed commercial banks in providing capital for investments. Economic growth rates were the highest in the world based on high levels of savings and investments, rapid productivity growth and remarkable social consensus. Japan was willing to forego immediate reward for long-term benefits. Therefore, in large sections of world manufacturing, notably electronics, Japanese producers had no rivals. Manufacturing was the mainstay of the economy, improving quality and price.
Japan has continually upgraded its economy and shifted from heavy industry with high-energy requirements to high technology, high value added industries such as semi-conductors, industrial robots and computers. Japanese manufactures than began investing heavily in foreign countries because of it’s own rising yen. This massive outflow of money pushed many Japanese financial institutions to the top of the global financial markets. Japan was also the world largest importer of agricultural products where 60% of its food is imported. (Rich 192).
If counted based on efficiency however, per unit of land, Japan is the most efficient in the world. Greater prosperity leads to a big demand for consumer goods. Western style clothing became very common and wheat products, meat and vegetables took the place of rice in many Japanese dishes. Scotch whiskey was now drunk in place of the traditional sake. The Japanese people now wanted to acquire more twentieth century gadgets – colour televisions, electric sewing machine, washing machines, motor cars and so on. Western sports became very popular – in the 70’s, there were already about 7,000 golf courses.
By September 1986, the Japanese had a massive current account surplus of $10 billion U. S dollars. All this was a result of deep government planning, growth with high depreciation allowance, cheap loans, subsidies and light taxes. The Japanese recovery from its defeat in the Second War presents a truly remarkable story of persistence, determination and hard work by an entire population, and considerable financial and diplomatic skill. Vietnam was the latest among these countries to emerge as a ‘gold mine’. The Vietnam War set this back in the 60’s and the 70’s. The war almost completely crippled the country’s economy.
Vietnam’s economy grew based on a five-year plan system. This has brought moderate success in repairing of three decades of war on infrastructure, forest and farmland. By the mid-1980’s, the government began to liberalize in an attempt to encourage new resources. In 1987, businesses were given tax breaks in their first year, some companies were allowed to obtain bank loan and set their own prices while exporters were authorized to borrow foreign currency to import raw materials. There were higher cash incentives for peasants and workers. This lead farmers to earn almost 40% profits.
The government too began awarding bonuses and piece-rate wages to reward hard workers. In 1988, there were new investment laws that attracted overseas capital. The main investors were Taiwan, Australia, France, Hong Kong, the United States and also, Malaysia. In 1989, as communism seemed to be collapsing elsewhere in the world, Vietnam flung open its doors to foreign investment. The economy has been growing at an annual rate of 7% to 8% over the past three years. In February 1994, when the U. S. dropped its 19-year trade embargo, aid and investment began to flood in. (49).
This led jet streams of investors into Vietnam. Western companies such as Coca-Cola, AT&T, and Motorola all invested heavily in the country. This lead to Vietnam to growing very fast. Population continued to grow by about 1 million a year. By the 1990, the country’s exports were up to about $800 million U. S dollars while imports totalled nearly $1 billion. Vietnam’s most lucrative business was oil and gas. In addition, it is in this sector of the industry that attracted the most attention of foreign investors. British Petroleum was the first western firm to make a significant contribution to Vietnam’s growing economy.
Tourism has helped Vietnam grow too. The Vietnamese government were promoting tourism in an effort to earn more hard currency. In addition, Vietnam succeeded in exporting 1. 69 million tons of rice making it the third largest exporters of rice in the world. From the border with China in the north to the rice mills of the Mekong Delta in the south, Vietnam is humming with activity. Hong Kong investors have been allowed to open a casino near Haiphong, and Westerners are bidding to develop tourist sites along the scenic coast of Vietnam.
Hanoi, long a city of bicycles and mouldy old colonial edifices, is now rich in motorcycles and office buildings. In Ho Chi Minh City, as Saigon is now called, the April 30 parade marking the end of the war will be set against a landscape bristling with billboards and construction cranes. All this has brought Vietnam to grow at a tremendous rate and there is no denying that soon Vietnam will become a distinctive force in Asia. The country’s recovery after the Vietnam War shows a truly dedicated nation determined to wealth, success and most all, a better life for all the Vietnamese.
This research has shown that these ‘Growing Asian Dragons’ are a force to be reckoned with in the near future as these countries are developing at breakneck speed. China, even before the merging with Hong Kong, is currently the centre of attraction in the business world. Japan has already establish itself and become the most influential partner in the business world while the ‘youngest’ of them all, Vietnam, is already beginning to stamp its mark in South East Asia and soon, without doubt, throughout the world.