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June 2006
I first wrote this page back in the last millennium.  Things have changed a bit since then.

INDIA

Back in 2000 I predicted that India might well be "The second world superpower of the 21st Century".  In some respects, India already surpasses China, and I anticipate that the gap between the two is expanding exponentially.  This is a reflection of India's labour surplus and (increasingly) it's political freedom.  

CHINA

I wrongly predicted that "Chinese leaders" ... "policy of industrial expansion by absorption will probably fail, as will be clearly omened by the decline of Hong Kong."  China has prospered by applying the lesson of water to their currency (i.e. keeping it low by selling it cheap).  This was achieved by the purchase of US government bonds, & has kept their exchange rate favorable (much like Japan when the fixed currency (Bretton Woods) agreement was in force following WWII) This allowed Japanese industry to develop.  As I recall, the Japanese suffered from (what many analysts thought was) excessive government (i.e. MITI) management of their economy.  However as the Chinese economy expands, it seems that information censorship is also expanding, meaning proportionally more censors.  Sooner or later, they will run into a problem.  Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

The Western democracies do not (mostly) manage information by censorship.  Anybody who can use Google will find that there are conspiracy theories all over the www, already tailored to every conceivable prejudice.  Trouble is, very few people care except the authors (presumably) & the few political & religious extremist groups who enter the prejudiced search criteria, such as fundamentalist Muslims & "vast conservative conspiracy" liberals.

INDONESIA

Indonesia has lost it's way after the exuberance following Suharto's overthrow.  One particularly painful event was the loss of the West Timorese colony.  Other colonies are also in revolt. (Sumatra and the Moluccas and West Irian and Kalimantan, i.e. everywhere except Java).  This reversal is producing a retreat into religion, which in this case is Islam.

BURMA

Political and economic growth in this country of 50 million is atrophied while the military rule.  Neighboring democratic Thailand has fewer natural resources, similar population, and a PPP of around $8,300 p/a, compared to around $1,700 p/a in Burma.  Before the Junta took over, these two countries were comparable.  Now Burma has the largest standing army in the region.

THAILAND

Thailand was omitted from my last review.  It has become a top tourist destination in the intervening years.  This is no doubt partly due to the fact that Muslims are a vanishingly small (< 5%) minority.  It is also becoming an industrial center of note.

MALAYSIA

Malaysia is a true multicultural country, with about 51% Malays, around 25% Chinese and a mixture of other races making the balance.  To retain political power, the governing Malays give preference to majority Malays in government and education, (much like we in Australia give preference to Women and Aboriginals in government and education.)   Malaysia is rich in natural resources (rubber and oil).

SINGAPORE

Singapore has prospered, despite the fact that it has no natural resources (it even has to import water).  It seems to be an example of the "benign dictatorship" form of government that the Greeks considered to be the best form of government.

Singapore is not doing quite as well in the economic growth stakes as sister city Hong Kong, and HK has an even less democratic system of government.  However I feel that HK(SAR) has the advantage of being the business node for most of China.  In this context, HK is not governed as well as Singapore.

TAIWAN

Taiwan has a per capita PPP that is about 90% of Australia's, and a population about 10% larger than Australia's, giving it a PPP GDP that is about the same as Australia.   However it's growth rate is rather poor, at less than 4% p/a.

I am reminded of Bertrand Russel's comment that "The Chinese seem to prosper everywhere in the world, except China, but then, the system there was designed by the Chinese."


This update June 2006. Previous versions August 2000 & January 2000

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