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The Asian Dilemma

Eduardo Araral

Abstract

The East Asian growth story is a familiar narrative of prosperity but the same forces that drive such progress also induce widespread poverty and inequality in the region. The image of the East Asian region has greatly transformed. It is no longer a region simply wrought with narratives of colonialism or “barbarism” owing to their distinctively different culture; but is host to the greatest number of megacities. This transformation is evident in the rise of skyscrapers, young Vietnamese workers on motorbikes making their way to work in economic zones, and the presence of European cars and fancy restaurants. However, this prosperity comes with a price: injustice, dehumanization, environmental degradation, land grabbing, and the rise of slums. Technological developments and market reforms have changed work environments and expectations but have given rise to a widening urban/rural divide. While this tremendous development of the region is commendable, the less-documented underbelly of the Asian growth story is as much a part of this growth story culminating in this Asian dilemma we need not be stuck in.


Keywords

East Asian prosperity, economic growth, geopolitics, market oriented reforms, urbanization

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