Whether described as a Triad in Ohmae’s terms, 1 or the Three Thirties as in financial markets parlance, world economic activity has consolidated over the last decade into a three-legged phenomenon involving North America, West Europe and East Asia. Each region now commands more or less a third of total world GNP, hence the term Three Thirties’. Of the three regions, East Asia has attracted the most interest since it is the recent recruit, setting aside Japan, to the world’s prosperity club.
Before going into further discussion, it would be useful to define East Asia, or ‘the region’, for the purposes of this book. Technically, we are focusing loosely on the eight better known countries of East Asia excluding Japan, namely China (the PRC, Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. These are not covered evenly, and not every one of them is included in each of the chapters that follow. The inconsistent availability of quality data between them has meant that some countries are bound to be less analysable than others in certain areas. Roc, Heij, and Hancock and Tower provide as broad a comparative cross-country study of, respectively, stock market development, taxation and accounting issues, as practicable. Others, by design, give a vertical look at specific issues in particular countries. Brooks discusses in depth the PRC’s equities market, backed up by Zhang and Zheng’s presentation of the PRC’s regulatory framework in the banking sector. Chu, on the other hand, describes the political economic change that has accompanied Taiwan’s financial deregulation over the past twenty years, while Lee and Tcha study South Korea’s recent foreign direct investment experience in Southeast Asia.
Australia comes frequently into the picture from a particular angle, that of belonging strategically and economically to the region as well as being the country where much of the research for this book has been done. References, at times extensive, to countries not included in the above ‘region’ are made for comparative purposes, in particular to Japan in