China supercharges Asia’s development model

TOKYO/SEOUL – As the first non-Western country to achieve true industrialization, Japan’s development model is the one by which the world still tends to measure success in Asia. 

It also provided a blueprint for others to work to.

By the 1980s, two breeds of “Asian Tiger” – high-income East Asian economies – had emerged. While ex-British colonies Hong Kong and Singapore came into their own as post-war trading hubs and service centers, ex-Japanese colonies South Korea and Taiwan became manufacturing superstars. 

Both the latter harnessed Tokyo’s strategies, for better or worse, to hone competitiveness and raise living standards via industrial growth. Now, millennial China is turning this tried-and-true progression on its head.

Never was this clearer than during last week’s four-day Central Committee meeting in Beijing, where President Xi Jinping’s Communist Party detailed a multipronged warp-speed development plan. So vast is its ambition, it was likely met with dropped jaws in Seoul, Taipei, Tokyo and Washington.