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Bernard M - English Conversation / TOEFL / IELTS 一對一英文會話

Monday, February 18, 2008

Asia's Growing Role in Financial Markets

FROM Lee Kuan Yew's article in Forbes:
Asia's recovery of its 18th-century position is on course. The architectural and engineering achievements of China's Grand Canal, from Hangzhou to Beijing, as well as its Great Wall, and India's Taj Mahal, ancient temples and forts are evidence of the capability of earlier generations to plan and execute great works. The people of Asia can master the science and technology needed in this high-tech digital world. China's immediate neighbors--Korea, Japan and Vietnam--were part of the Sinic civilization, adopting the Chinese written script, as well as absorbing the Confucian values of thrift and hard work, with an emphasis on education and learning, family solidarity, social stability and harmony. What Japan and Korea have done economically, China will do, and more.
Lee Kuan Yew's views of Eastern and Western values are both oversimplifications. "The people of Asia" may well be able to master and improve on Western technologies, but this doesn't mean they all share in one set of Asian values. He mentions Indian accomplishments, but it is unlikely that most Indians and ethnic Chinese would claim they share similar values. Likewise, Western culture is not one giant homogeneous mass of moral turpitude. There are also Western traditions of thrift, hard work, respect for family and education, etc. In America, The Puritans were known to have such values, which to some extent they passed on into American culture. Currently the Mormons display the kinds of values I suppose might very loosely be characterized as "Confucian." In Europe, the Prussians were of course famous for similar values. Lee Kuan Yew does the same thing the communists used to do in terms of ideology: whatever is good he ascribes to Easterners and whatever is bad to Westerners. The world simply isn't so neatly divided.

Another oversimplification in the article (quoted by Yew) is past comparisons of the percentage of world production. Yes, China may have dominated world production, accounting for about 75% of world production for much of the last 2000 years. However, no one can expect a return to such an unbalanced geographic production basis. For much of the time China was dominant economically, the civilizations of North and South America, Europe and Australia were not properly speaking capitalist, though they may have engaged in much trade. These areas have since adopted capitalism to varying extents, offering China far more competition than they did 1500 years ago. Yew also forgets to point out that the geographic distribution of production and wealth will be significantly altered if other Middle Eastern countries manage to imitate Dubai's economic miracle. The future geographic distribution of production will likely reflect the distribution of capitalist values, which are far more evenly distributed around the world today than ever before.

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