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Asia's Turning Point: An Introduction to Asia's Dynamic Economies at the Dawn of the New Century by Philippe Debroux, Ivan Tselichtchev

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The East Asian Miracle in Retrospect

Similarity in Diversity

East Asia is the most diverse region in the world. It is comprised of nations that are very different in size: from China with its 1.3 billion people to the 4-million-strong city-state of Singapore. Development and wealth gaps are bigger here than anywhere else. Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan are among the wealthiest nations in the world while Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar are among the poorest. In 2007, per-capita gross domestic product (GDP) in Singapore was 48 times greater than in Myanmar and the gap between the average per-capita GPD for Japan and the newly industrialized economies (NIEs) on the one hand and the four countries with the lowest per-capita incomes (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam) on the other reached 19 times (International Monetary Fund (IMF) 2008; per-capita GDP is calculated on the basis of the purchasing power parity (PPP) of the national currencies).

Political systems also vary. Some East Asian nations are parliamentary democracies while others are ruled by authoritarian regimes or even military dictators. Sometimes, formally democratic countries are governed in an authoritarian way as one party or political organization has a de facto monopoly on power and the activities of the opposition parties and groups are restrained.

Finally, there is a unique diversity of religious cultures—Brunei, Indonesia, and Malaysia are mostly Muslim, the Philippines is Christian, and Thailand is Buddhist. ...

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