Hong Kong's Reunion with China: The Global Dimensions

By Gerard A. Postiglione; James T. H. Tang | Go to book overview

4
Hong Kong and the Newly Industrializing Economies: From Americanization to Asianization

Lai On-Kwok and Alvin Y. So

In the literature on development, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan are commonly dubbed the East Asian NIEs (newly industrializing economies). This is because Hong Kong, like the other East Asian NIES, exhibited an impressive economic track record of nearly 10 percent growth in GDP over the past three decades. In addition, Hong Kong shared the East Asia NIEs' pattern of export-oriented industrialization, under which manufactured goods accounted for the lion's share of the total merchandise exports. Moreover, the exports of the East Asian NIEs were not confined to low-tech, labor-intensive products. There has been substantial technological upgrading, economic diversification, and movement of capital and professionals in their economies and the region itself. Furthermore, whereas foreign companies largely constituted the ownership of Latin American NIES, indigenous firms owned the labor-intensive industries of the East Asian NIES. Finally, by the 1990s, the East Asian NIEs (leading other Asian economies) have become a powerhouse to propel the world economy forward.

Why were the NIEs able to transform themselves from backward economies in the mid-twentieth century into economic powerhouses of the world economy at the turn of the twentieth century? Or more specifically, what were the conditions that led Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan to adopt exportled industrialization during the 1950s and the 1960s? What explains their upgrading to the status of NIEs despite the downward turn of the world economy in the 1970s? And what are the future prospects for the NIEs as the center of capital accumulation in the world economy in the twentieth century?

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