I just finished reading Michael Schuman’s “The Miracle: The Epic Story of Asia’s Quest for Wealth” and I really enjoyed it. Schuman is a journalist with Time magazine and the Wall Street Journal and has covered Asian economics and news for ten years. Asia is a part of the world that I don’t know much about and I have never been there (Australia excluded), and so the book is a good primer on the recent history of the region. He covers China, India, South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Taiwan.
Schuman gives a brief recent history of each country and chooses an important political figure and businessman for each country to tell his story. Asia since WWII has passed other regions since then in standard of living. He goes into the many reasons. I understand the biggest reason was tapping into the global economy through encouraging foreign investment and increasing the quality of businesses in the country. He also writes that all of the countries put politics and history aside and concentrated on the generating of wealth. That is a good lesson for the Balkans!
I particularly liked the chapter on China. It is an example of one person’s efforts and opinion changing a countries destiny. That is what great leaders can do for a country. He profiles Deng Xiaoping and his reforms of the communist party. It also gave another perspective on Tiananmen Square protests. Deng had the view that China is too large for a democracy and without a single party suppressing it, China would be chaotic. I wonder as Chinese grow richer and better educated, how that will play out.
I also am realizing that India and China have 1/3 the world’s population and their rise will change the current international political and cultural structures. He argues that the USA started this globalization of economies after WWII and when Asia gets richer, it is good for the US. I hope it spurs our schools and our young people to improve as there are a lot of children and teens coming from homes that don’t value learning and a strong work ethic in the USA. We have to compete with Asians for jobs and business.
I recommend reading the book. I think eventually our international careers will take us to Asia. I would like to see for myself what it is like, although I am not a fan of big cities. One thought is to have our children attend Australian universities while we work in international schools in Asia.