A time-line of the Asian Miracle

World News | Politics | History | Editor

(Copyright © 2011 Piero Scaruffi)

1945: Tata Motors is established in Mumbai to build locomotives for India
1946: Akio Morita and Masaru Ibuka found Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo (later Sony) in Japan
1946: Kashio Tadao founds Kashio Seisakujo (later renamed Casio) in Japan
1947: Hyundai in South Korea
1947: Koo In-Hwoi founds the plastic manufacturing company Lak-Hui (later LG) in South Korea
1948: HC Ting leaves China and founds the plastic factory Kader Industrial Company in Hong Kong
1948: Soichiro Honda founds a motorcycle manufacturing company in Japan
1949: Japan's MITI as an architect of industrial policy
1949: The trading firm Li & Fung moves its headquarters from mainland China to Hong Kong under manager Fung Hon-chu
1950: Li Ka-shing founds the plastic factory Cheung Kong in he British colony of Hong Kong
1952: Mohan Mittal founds a steel business (later Ispat) in Kolkata, India
1953: Korea is partitioned between South and North
1953: Taiichi Ohno invents "lean manufacturing" (or "just-in-time" manufacturing) at Japan's Toyota
1954: Sony's transistor radio
1954: Japan's Fujitsu enters the computer market
1956: Nand Kishore Ruia founds the iron-ore export company Essar in Chennai, India
1957: Mao's "Great Leap Forward" in China
1957: Indonesian students are invited by the Ford Foundation to study Economics at UC Berkeley in California (the "Berkeley mafia")
1958: The USA forces Taiwan's regime to abandon plans to recover the mainland and focus on economic development
1959: Famine in China kills 38 million people in 4 years
1959: Kazuo Inamori founds Kyoto Ceramic (later Kyocera) in Japan
1959: Lee Kuan Yew wins elections in the British colony of Singapore
1959: Japan's Honda is the world's largest motorcycle manufacturer
1959: Japan's Hitachi builds its first transistor computer
1960: Half of South Korea's GDP is due to USA aid
1960: Hayato Ikeda's plan to double Japan's national income by 1970
1961: The general Park Chung-hee seizes power in South Korea
1961: Sony becomes the first Japanese company to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange
1961: Shigeru Sahashi becomes director of the Enterprises Bureau at Japan's MITI
1961: The Economic Development Board in Singapore
1963: Japan's Honda introduces its first car
1964: South Korea launches plan to improve exports
1964: The Tokyo Monorail opens in Japan
1964: The Shinkansen (bullet train) is inaugurated in Japan
1965: Singapore independent under Lee
1965: Chinese physicist Li Kuo-ting becomes Minister of Economy in Taiwan ("the father of Taiwan's economic miracle")
1966: Taiwan's Ministry of Economy establishes an "Export Processing Zone" (EPZ) in Kaohsiung, whose tenant companies enjoy privileges but must export all their output
1966: Mao's "cultural revolution" in China
1966: The general Suharto seizes power in Indonesia and announces a program of economic reforms designed by the "Berkeley mafia"
1966: LG produces South Korea's first television set
1967: Widjojo Nitisastro, the senior member of the "Berkeley mafia", is appointed Minister of Planning in Indonesia
1967: Kim Woo-chong founds Daewoo in South Korea to export clothing
1967: Sony introduces the Video Rover, the first portable videotape recording system (the first "portapak")
1967: Japan's Casio introduces the first programmable desktop calculator, the AL-1000
1968: Singapore's plan to woo foreign multinationals
1968: Japan's Toyota introduces the Corolla in the USA
1968: Japan's Epson introduces the first digital printer, the EP-101
1969: Samsung-Sanyo Electronics established in South Korea
1969: Japan creates the National Space Development Agency
1969: Texas Instruments, National and Fairchild open plants in Singapore
1969: Shih Ming and Andrew Chiu found Taiwan's first semiconductor company, Unitron
1969: Japan's Seiko introduces the world's first commercial quartz wristwatch
1969: India's Tata appoints Faqir Chand Kohli in charge of computer services
1970: Japan's Sharp and Canon introduce the first pocket calculators
1970: Om Prakash Jindal opens a steel plant at Hisar, India
1971: Unitron's engineer Stan Shih designs Taiwan`s first desktop calculator
1971: Sony introduces the U-matic, first commercial videocassette recorder (VCR)
1971: Busicom introduces the LE-120A Handy, the first pocket calculator
1972: Indian-born MIT-graduate Narendra Patni founds Data Conversion (later Patni) in the USA with back-office operations in Pune
1973: South Korea's first steel plant
1973: Ichiro Kato's team at Waseda University in Japan unveils the first full-scale anthropomorphic robot in the world, Wabot-1
1973: Taiwan establishes the Industrial Technological Research Institute (ITRI) to develop technologies that can be turned into goods for foreign markets
1973: South Korea establishes the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology at Daeduk
1974: Japan's Hitachi produces its first IBM-compatible mainframe computer
1974: Singapore institutes the state investment company Temasek
1974: Hyundai's first ship
1974: Tata obtains a software contract from BUrroughs, the first major software project offsourced by the USA to India
1974: Tai-Ming "Terry" Gou founds the plastic factory Foxconn in Taiwan
1975: Azim Premji's Bangalore-based Wipro starts selling the first computer made in India
1975: Japan's NEC introduces the first commercial supercapacitor
1976: Hyundai's first car
1976: Stan Shih and his wife Carolyn Yeh found the calculator maker Multitech (later Acer) in Taiwan
1976: Taiwan's EPZs employ 75,000 people, four fifths of whom are female
1977: 57 foreign firms, including IBM, dclose down their Indian plants rather than meet Indian demands for some degree of Indian ownership
1978: Karnataka State's agency Keonics establishes Electronics City in Bangalore, India
1978: Deng launches economic reforms in mainland China
1979: Mainland China sets up a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Shenzhen to experiment with foreign investment and export manufacturing
1979: Japan's Sony introduces the portable music player Walkman
1979: Japan's Nippon Telegraph and Telephone launches the world's first cellular network
1980: Taiwan's minister Li Kuo-ting establishes the Hsinchu Science Park
1980: Li Ka-shing buys Hutchinson and becomes the first Chinese to run a Western corporation in Hong Kong
1980: Taiwan's ITRI spawn the first startup, UMC
1980: The USA grants mainland China most-favored-nation status, i.e. access to US investors, technology and market
1980: Japan's Sony introduces the double-sided, double-density 3.5" floppy disk
1980: Wipro, to fill a gap after IBM left India, hires Sridhar Mitta who sets up offices in Bangalore to make computers
1980: The largest semiconductor manufacturers in the world are: Texas Instruments, National, Motorola, Philips (Europe), Intel, NEC (Japan), Fairchild, Hitachi (Japan) and Toshiba (Japan)
1980: Japan's Yamaha releases the first digital synthesizer
1980: Malaysia creates the Heavy Industries Corporation of Malaysia Berhad (HICOM) to promote heavy industry
1981: East Asia has the highest poverty rate in the world
1981: Japan's Sony introduces the video camera Betacam, the first camcorder
1981: Taiwan's Multitech (later Acer) introduces its own computer, the Micro-Professor MPF-I
1981: Narayana Murthy, founds Infosys in Bangalore, India
1981: Mukesh Ambani joins his family's business Reliance in India
1981: Mahathir Mohamad is appointed prime minister of Malaysia
1981: Masayoshi Son founds Softbank in Japan
1982: Honda is the first Japanese company to manufacture cars in the USA
1982: Japan's Sony introduces the CD
1983: Japan's Sony releases the first consumer camcorder
1983: The "Berkeley mafia" deregulates Indonesia's economy to attract international capital
1983, Anil Ambani joins his family's business Reliance in India
1983: Japan's Nintendo launches the videogame console Nintendo Entertainment System
1983: Taiwan's Multitech (Acer) introduces one of the earliest IBM-compatible PCs
1984: Fujio Masuoka at Japan's Toshiba invents flash memory
1984: Japanese firms introduce the 256K DRAM chips
1984: Liu Chuanzhi of the Chinese Academy of Sciences founds a privately-run but state-owned company, Legend (later Lenovo), to sell IBM's personal computers in China
1984: Stan Shih of Taiwan's Multitech (Acer) founds the research firm Suntek in Silicon Valley
1984: Mainland China enacts reforms that limit the interference of government officials in the management of companies
1984: Zhang Ruimin takes over management of China's state-owned maker of home appliances Haier
1985: Taiwan hires US-based semiconductor-industry executive Morris Chang to run the ITRI
1985: The Plaza Accord devalues the US dollar
1985: Malaysia's Proton manufactures its first car
1985: Akira Yoshino at Asahi Kasei invents the lithium-ion battery
1985: Texas Instruments opens a software laboratory in Bangalore, India
1986: Malaysia liberalizes its economy
1986: Taiwan's Acer, leveraging its supply-chain optimization strategy, releases the world's second computer based on Intel's 386 microprocessor (one month after Compaq)
1986: The Japanese government founds the Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International (ATR)
1986: Sunil Mittal founds the telecom company Bharti Telecom Limited in India
1987: The largest semiconductor manufacturers in the world are Japan's NEC, Japan's Toshiba and Japan's Hitachi
1987: Ren Zhengfei founds the telcom-equipment maker Huawei in mainland China
1987: ITRI's president Morris Chang founds Taiwan's Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), the first independent silicon-chip foundry in the world, to serve the "fabless" companies of the USA
1988: Taiwan's Foxconn opens a pioneering factory in China's experimental city Shenzhen
1988: China sets up the Zhongguancun Science Park outside Beijing
1988: Barry Lam founds Quanta Computer in Taiwan
1988: Japan's Sony acquires CBS Records
1988: Japan's Fujifilm introduces the world's first fully digital consumer camera
1988: Gautam Adani opens a trading house in India
1989: Japan's Sony acquires Columbia Pictures Entertainment
1989: Singapore's Creative Technology introduces the Sound Blaster card for personal computers
1989: Japan's Mitsubishi purchases the Rockefeller Center in the USA
1989: South Korea is the world's sixth largest manufacturer of consumer electronics
1989: Japan owns half of the world's shipbuilding market
1989: The market capitalization of Japanese companies represents 42% of all stocks in the world and the value of land is the highest in the world
1990: Japanese carmakers have a 28% share of the US market
1990: Matsushita buys the US entertainment conglomerate Universal
1990: China's Lenovo introduces its first homemade computer when the market is dominated by IBM, HP and Compaq
1990: The Japanese stock market crashes, the beginning of a 13-year stagnation
1991: The Indian government sets up the Software Technology Parks of India (STPI) to promote software exports and opens the first park in the Electronics City of Bangalore
1991: Japan's Sony introduces the lithium ion battery, a rechargeable version of the lithium battery
1991: Om Prakash Jindal splits between his children the steel and power conglomerate that he built in India
1991: India abandons socialism and liberalizes its economy
1991: Manmohan Singh is appointed finance minister in India and proceeds to liberalize India's socialist economy
1991: Wipro wins a software contract from a US customer that interacts via the Internet
1991: Japan's Sony releases the first commercial lithium-ion battery
1992: South Korea's Samsung becomes the largest producer of memory chips in the world
1993: American Express outsources the management of its credit-card business to its Indian office led by Raman Roy, the first major project of business-process outsourcing to India
1994: Alpha and Frank Wu found the contract manufacturer AmTran Technology in Taiwan
1994: Denso Wave engineer Hara Masahiro invents the QR code
1995: The Essar Group run by Nand Kishore Ruia's sons Shashi and Ravi Ruia is an Indian conglomerate that extends from shipping to steel, oil, power and telecommunications
1995: Sony and Philips introduce the DVD in Japan
1995: Lakshmi Mittal, the son of Mohan Mittal, founds his own steel business, LNM Group (later Mittal Steel)
1995: South Korean conglomerate LG acquires Zenith
1996: South Korean conglomerate Samsung builds a factory in Texas, one of the largest foreign investments in the history of the USA
1996: Malaysia's Proton purchases British sport car manufacturer Lotus
1996: Malaysia embarks in the construction of the Multimedia Supercorridor
1996: The Petrona Towers of Malaysia become the tallest buildings in the world
1996: Sony introduces the chip FeliCa for RFID technology
1997: The Octopus card in Hong Kong pioneers contact-less credit cards
1997: Toyota begins selling a hybrid car, the Prius
1997: Cher Wang, the richest woman in Taiwan, founds HTC
1997: Asian financial crisis
1997: Lenovo passes IBM to become China's main vendor of personal computers
1997: Japan's Panasonic introduces the first flat panel television set
1998: Former Shanghai mayor Zhu Rongji is appointed prime minister of Communist China and proceeds to overhaul state-owned companies
1998: Tencent is founded in China by Ma Huateng and Zhang Zhidong to develop the instant messaging platform Open ICQ or QQ
1998: South Korea's SaeHan introduces the first mass-produced MP3 player, the "MPMan"
1998: Tata introduces India's first passenger car
1998: Gautam Adani buys India's port of Mundra and creates a "special economic zone" of 100 sqkm for his diversified financial empire
1998: South Korea's Samsung introduces the world's first digital television set
1998: A merger creates China's Sina and China's Tencent is founded
1999: Daewoo, the second largest conglomerate in South Korea with interests in about 100 countries, goes bankrupt
1999: Alibaba is founded in China by Jack May, an English teacher with no computing experience
1999: Singapore's Creative Technology introduces the Nomad line of digital audio players
1999: Japan's NTT DoCoMo ("Do Communications over the Mobile network" introduces the "i-mode" service that allows mobile phones to access a broad range of Internet services
1999: Azim Premji is the richest person in India and Wipro has the highest market capitalization in India
1999: Infoseek's engineer Li Yanhong moves to China and co-founds the search engine Baidu
2000: Japan's Sharp introduces the J-SH04, the first mobile phone with a built-in camera
2000: Robin Li and Eric Xu launch the search engine Baidu in China
2000: Japan's Honda introduces the humanoid robot ASIMO
2000: China has 22 thousand large dams, almost half of the entire world's total
2000: Almost 50% of Japanese who access the Internet do so via a cell phone
2000: Kyocera acquires the mobile phone operations of Qualcomm
2000: The foundry Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC) is founded in Shanghai's Zhangjiang High-Tech Park
2001: South Korea's Hyundai spins off its electronics division as Hynix
2002: There are more than 2,000 startups in Seoul's Teheran Valley, and 69% of them are in IT
2002: Japan's Sharp introduces the first cellphone with a built-in QR code reader, the J-SH09
2002: China's Suntech, founded by Zhengrong Shi, opens its factory of solar panels
2002: Japan and South Korea combined deliver 75% of the world's shipbuilding
2002: South Korea's Samsung is the second semiconductor manufacturer in the world after Intel and Japan's Toshiba is third, passing Texas Instruments
2002: Honda introduces the world's first compact household cogeneration unit
2002: Vizio is established in the USA to sell AmTran's television sets
2003: Between 1988 and 2003 high-tech ventures in Beijing's Zhongguancun grew from 527 to more than 12,000
2003: Japan accounts for 21% of all patents awarded worldwide
2003: Asia produces about 40% of the world's IT goods and consumes about 20% of them
2003: Sony introduces the first Blu-ray disc player
2003: China's "Three Gorges Dam" on the Yangtze, the world's largest dam, becomes operational
2003: China sends a man into space, Yang Liwei, the third country to do so after the Soviet Union and the USA, and announces plans to send a man to the moon by 2020
2004: "Taipei 101" in Taiwan becomes the tallest building in the world
2004: Japan's Epson introduces the mirrorless camera
2004: The high-speed monorail Shanghai Maglev Train (built by Germany's Transrapid) opens
2004: Singapore inaugurates Biopolis, a center for biomedical science
2004: South Korea's Samsung is the world's largest OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode) manufacturer, producing 40% of the OLED displays made in the world
2004: Japan's Docomo introduces a mobile payment service, Osaifu Keitai
2005: The Ambani brothers of India split their business empire
2005: Joseph Chen founds Renren in China
2005: China's Lenovo acquires IBM's personal computer business
2005: Taiwanese companies produce 80% of all personal digital assistants, 70% of all notebooks and 60% of all flat-panel monitors in the world
2006: Lakshmi Mittal's Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal is world's largest steel-maker
2006: Between 1993 to 2006 the number of new science and engineering PhDs increased by 24% in the USA, by 189% in South Korea, and by more than 1,000% in mainland China
2007: The world's largest vendors of personal computers are HP, Dell, Taiwan's Acer, China's Lenovo and Japan's Toshiba
2007: Japan's Hitachi releases the Deskstar 7K1000, the first 1 TB hard disk drive
2008: Indian car manufacturer Tata buys Jaguar
2008: Japan's NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) and others demonstrate a public television transmission in Ultra-high-definition (UHD)
2008: Japan's Sony unveils the world's first OLED tv set, the XEL-1, the world's thinnest tv set at just 3 mm
2008: BYD introduces the world's first mass-produced plug-in hybrid car
2009: Anil Ambani and Mukesh Ambani of India are the 6th and 7th richest persons in the world, having built Reliance into a business conglomerate
2009: Chinese solar panels account for about 50% of total shipments
2009: China's Sina launches Weibo
2009: South Korea's Samsung announces mass production of 512 Mbit phase-change memory
2009: Vizio, whose products are made by Taiwanese company AmTran, becomes the main tv-set brand in the USA
2009: India's Infosys sets up the largest corporate university in the world at Mysore
2009: Japan's Toyota overtakes General Motors to become the largest car maker in the world
Nov 2009: Mainland China is the largest auto market in the world
2010: South Korea's Hyundai-Kia passes Ford to become the fourth automaker in the world after Toyota, General Motors and Volkswagen
2010: Japan's Sony demonstrates a rollable OLED display
2010: China's Tencent is the world's third-largest Internet company by market capitalization
2010: South Korea's Samsung introduces the smartphone Galaxy S
2010: India's Bharti Airtel is the 5th largest telecom operator in the world
2010: Lakshmi Mittal is the richest person in Europe
2010: Taiwan's Quanta Computer is the largest manufacturer of notebook computers in the world
2010: Taiwan's HTC introduces the world's first 4G smartphone, the EVO
2010: Quanta Computer is the largest manufacturer of notebook computers in the world
2010: Xiaomi is founded in China
2011: Tencent releases the social networking platform Weixin/WeChat for smartphones
2011: India's exports of goods are double the exports of services (textiles and agricultural products account for less than 20%)
2011: China's foreign exchange reserves are worth $3.2 trillion or 5% of the world's GDP
2011: China's Haier is the world's largest maker of home appliances
2012: Taiwan's Acer introduces the world's thinnest notebook, the Aspire S5
2012: South Korea's LG introduces the world's first 3D UHD television set and the first flat panel UHD display
2012: China's Huawei overtakes Sweden's Ericsson to become the world's biggest telcom-equipment maker
2012: South Korea's Samsung sells twice as many smartphones as Apple and five times more than Nokia
2012: South Korea's Hynix merges with SK Group to form the world's second-largest memory chipmaker after Samsung
2012: The Tokyo Institute of Technology creates a robot that learns functions it was not programmed to do (based on Osamu Hasegawa's technology)
2012: China opens the world's longest high-speed rail route, linking Beijing with Guangzhou
2012: China's Huawei overtakes Sweden's Ericsson to become the world's biggest telcom-equipment maker
2013: China's ICBC tops the list of the world's top 1,000 banks
2013: South Korea's Samsung introduces the world's first mobile phone with flexible display, the Galaxy Round
2014: China's Xiaomi is third behind Apple and Samsung in the mobile phone market
2014: China's Alibaba sets a new world record with its IPO
2014: India puts a satellite in orbit around Mars
2014: China completes the 1200-km canal connecting Beijing with the Yangtze
2014: Hyundai and Toyota introduce the first mass-market hydrogen cars
2014: China's Xiaomi doubles its revenues in just one year
2015: Softbank introduces the robot Pepper
2016: Japan's Softbank acquires British ARM
2016: China's largest home appliances manufacturer Midea acquires Germany's leading industrial robotics manufacturer, Kuka
2016: The valuation of listed companies in China's Zhongguancun nears 5 trillion yuan
2017: Softbank sets up a a $100 billion fund to invest in AI and purchases Schaft and Boston Dynamics from Google,
2017: China's electric vehicle production is 50% of global production
2018: Wechat has one billion users
2018: TSMC's valuation passes Intel's
2019: South Korea's Samsung introduces the Galaxy S10 5G, the first 5G smartphone
2021: Didi debuts on Wall Street with the second largest valuation ($68bn) by a Chinese company since Alibaba's debut in 2014


  • First "Asian tigers": Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong
  • Different philosophies: Shinto, Buddhist, Confucian
  • Different histories: Japan was already westernized, Taiwan partially (as a Japanese colony), Korea never was, Hong Kong and Singapore are British colonies
  • Role of the state: from ubiquitous (Japan) to totalitarian (Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan) to indifferent (Hong Kong)
  • Government: mostly of humble origins and uneducated
  • Benevolent dictator whose main goal is not his own wealth or a dynasty but the good of the country (Not unique to Asia: Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Pinochet)

  • East Asian countries lack natural resources
  • To pay for imports, they export cheap goods to the USA
  • Develop a knack for understanding Western consumer behavior and social trends
  • The USA de facto pays for their development
  • The geopolitics of the Cold War (need to contain the Soviet Union) de facto drives the early Asian boom
  • What they have in common is not cultural or political background but that they are allies of the USA during the Cold War
  • Singapore's unique model: favors foreign investment by multinationals over nurturing national conglomerates

English as the second language
  • Former British colonies: Hong Kong, India, Singapore
  • Militarily occupied by the USA: Japan, South Korea, Taiwan

  • They ignore Western economic theories and use common sense and traditional values
  • They ignore social and economies ideologies of the Third World
  • Centralized economy enables long-term planning and short-term decisions
  • The government rewards with favors the companies that achieve world-class results
  • Economic growth dominated by conglomerates (keiretsu in Japan and chaebol in South Korea)
  • Asian people demand economic growth before democratic growth

  • Second generation of "Asian tigers" (1990s): China, India, Thailand, Malaysia
  • Different philosophies: Confucian, Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim
  • Role of the state: liberal reforms reduce the power of the state (China, India)
  • Government: mostly technocrats and educated
  • China: needs money and technology (needs the Western capitalists)
  • India: poor transportation and electricity infrastructure, restrictive labor laws discourage labor-intensive sectors

  • Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, etc, China capitalized on cheap labor to capture offsourced jobs from the USA
  • India capitalized on English-speaking, college-educated and cheap engineers to capture offsourced jobs from the USA
  • The USA lost blue-collar (low-paying low-skills) jobs to China
  • The USA loses white-collar (high-paying high-skills) jobs to India

  • China: Chinese conglomerates succeed because of the government
  • India: Indian conglomerates succeed despite the government
  • Indian conglomerates aim for self-sufficiency
  • Jindal produces steel and power through backward integration from its own captive coal and iron-ore mines
  • Gautam Adani buys port and coal mines, builds power plant and railway
  • India: unlike China's labor-intensive exports, exporting capital-intensive items that require skilled workers

Those successful regions of Asia
  • valued higher education (and especially in engineering and science)
  • enjoyed enlightened state planning (that, for example, placed emphasis on electronics while Europe was still focused on cars and appliances),
  • boasted world-class work ethos (that guaranteed quality and reliability) and
  • were largely non ideological (they didn't view capitalism as evil, like large segments of the European public, and did not harbor religious/ethnic hostilities towards Westerners).

East Asian countries that did not experience the boom:
  • Philippines (Catholic, USA ally)
  • Pakistan (Muslim, USA ally)
  • Bangladesh (Muslim, neutral)
  • Vietnam (Buddhist, USA enemy)
  • Laos (Buddhist, USA enemy)
  • Cambodia (Buddhist, USA enemy)
  • North Korea (Buddhist, USA enemy)
  • Mongolia (Buddhist, USA enemy)

World News | Politics | History | Editor
(Copyright © 2011 Piero Scaruffi)


Asian economies managed to progress from starvation in the 1960s to the top tier of development and wealth. In 1981 East Asia had the highest poverty rate in the world, higher than Africa. In 2011 two of the top three economies in the world were from East Asia, and very soon they might have three out of four including the number one.

There is no single cultural/political explanation for the Asian miracle because the countries of Asia spanned a broad spectrum of philosophies (Confucian, Shinto, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim) and of political systems: fascism (South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand), communism (mainland China), socialism (India), democracy (Japan, Hong Kong).

There are actually two Asian miracles. The first Asian miracle was low-tech and largely based on cheap labor and loose business regulations. The first Asia miracle relied on a simple business plan: do what the West does but do it cheaper and possibly better. This became an art in itself. It also caused the rapid Westernization of all US allies in Asia (that until World War II had largely held on to their traditions). The second Asian miracle was high-tech and based on improving Western high technology. By this time Asia had become very Westernized and, in particular, democracy had become widespread.

The first Asian miracle was largely the consequence of the Cold War between the USA and the Soviet Union. The USA helped the Asian (and Western European) economies develop in order to create stable and strong defenses against the communist world. The USA encouraged trade with its oversea allies, and tolerated that they competed unfairly with US-based manufacturers by keeping their currencies very low.

Government intervention was crucial to the development of these economies: they all boomed under the supervision of a benevolent dictatorship that nurtured and guided the private sector.

Most of the political leaders of the first boom came not from the aristocracy but from the very poor class. These leaders were interested in copying Western industrial methods but ignored Western economic theory: they used common sense and traditional values. They nonetheless became enlightened leaders who somehow made mostly good choices to turn their starving countries into economic tigers. This is not as unusual as it may sound: Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin were really bad people but didn't do what they did to enrich themselves or start a dynasty. They in fact greatly improved the economies of their respective countries.

Economic growth was dominated by conglomerates: keiretsu in Japan and chaebol in South Korea. The government nurtured some family-controlled businesses with easy credit, subsidies, tax benefits and protection from foreign competitors and they went on to become octopus-like enterprises. The privileges sometimes placed them above the law, particularly in South Korea where conglomerates came to be associated with bribery, embezzlement and tax evasion but only in 2013 was a major executive jailed for white-collar crimes.

All the early boomers lacked natural resources. In order to pay for them, they had to focus on exporting. The big open market was the USA. Therefore it was natural that they focused on exporting to the USA. The USA also provided the military protection that helped these countries focus only on the economy. Security was guaranteed and paid for by the USA. What these early boomers had in common was not a cultural or political background but that they were all allies of the USA during the Cold War.

The second Asian miracle was largely the consequence of the end of the Cold War. The collapse of the Soviet Union and of its communist block turned the whole world into one colossal capitalist market. The Asian countries applied their learned skills on a larger scale to a larger market. Globalization favored Asian products over the more expensive products from Western Europe and the USA. However, by now Asia had learned sophisticated industrial and business methods, and was not restricted to cheap goods. Its factories had developed into high-tech factories by serving US manufacturers, but the know-how could now be recycled internally to create factories that served Asian manufacturers. Therefore Asia found itself capable of competing with the West in the much more lucrative high-tech field.

This second Asian miracle introduced two colossal players. Mainland China simply followed the path of Western imitation that had been tested by the old "tigers". India, however, could also sell a widespread knowledge of the English language and Western-style universities that graduated scores of mathematically-inclined students, two factors which created an opportunity for the service industry. Again, the natural customer was the USA, in this case the booming computer and Internet industry. The USA, again, provided the military protection that helped these economies grow in a world largely at peace. West of Pakistan, Asia was relatively at peace. The real trouble was in the Middle East and East-Central Asia, i.e. in the Islamic world. The USA and its Western allies of NATO were busy maintaining some kind of order there, which also provided for safe trade routes. Even mainland China, that quickly became the USA's main rival on the world stage, relied on trade routes from Africa and the Middle East that were guarded by the mighty military of the USA.

There were East Asian countries that did "not" experience that kind of economic boom, and not all of them were enemies of the USA: the Philippines (Catholic, ally), Pakistan (Muslim, ally), Bangladesh (Muslim, neutral), North Korea (Buddhist, enemy), Vietnam (Buddhist, enemy until the late 1990s), Laos (Buddhist, enemy until the late 1990s), Cambodia (Buddhist, enemy until the late 1990s), Mongolia (Buddhist, enemy until the early 1990s). Each of them shared either the cultural or political background with one of the booming economies, but did not experience a similar oom.