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South Korea

1) Communism will be defeated when the two Koreas are reunited. This unified country will become another Germany on the other side of the world. For a few decades the high tech and the high competence of the South will combine with low wage levels in the north to create a unique window of opportunity. That is what both Koreas want, but Korean unity is blocked by American interests in the region.

2) This is a national corporate state, much like in China. Private companies in South Korea depend on the banks, which are State-owned.

3) Samsung Electronics is now the world's largest technology company, run by one man, Lee Kun-Hee. He also owns 64 other firms within the same conglomerate. The output of this group accounts for twenty per cent of the country's GDP

4) South Korea wants no confrontation with its future partner. They want a peaceful transition.

5) Unlike their warlike neighbours the Japanese, Koreans have been primarily farmers. Thirty per cent of them are Christians.

Brunei

1) Brunei consists of only 200,000 inhabitants and oil reserves which have made its Sultan one of the richest men in the world.

2) The King of Sweden considered the Sultana "good friend", until the Foreign Office told him to change his mind, at least outwards to the public.

Singapore

1) Singapore is the achievement of one man, Lee Kwan Yew, an overseas Chinese. His People's Action Party has been in power ever since independence from Malaysia.

2) To be Singaporean means to have a double identity, hence they also welcome other ethnicities. Thus, the current president is a Tamil.

3) Singapore is a Chinese spearhead. Its location, like that of Istanbul, exemplifies the very essence of geopolitics: at the mouth of the Malacca Strait, the main bottleneck for transport between the major markets in East Asia and the Western world by way of the Indian Ocean.

Thailand

1) Thailand is a regional superpower. It has fertile soil, and is the only country in the region not to have been colonized. (The French had Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, Britain had Burma.)

2) Thais are known to be warm-hearted, open, and diplomatic. Not surprising then if their women have become the favorite choice of many a lonely European man.

3) Thailand wanted to keep the civil war in Cambodia quiet to avoid conflict with Vietnam. For the same reason they refrain from criticism of Myanmar (Burma).

4) The Royal Family is sacred, even when it supports the military which sometimes overthrows the government. Nothing can be achieved without the support of members of the Royal Family. One bad word about the king and you end up 7 77 years in prison (most recent case from 2012).

5) The political system is known for chronic corruption. Thaksin Shinawatra, prime minister from 2001 to 2006, is said to have milked the country for billions of dollars before he was ousted by the military. Still many Thais prefer him and his kind to military rule.

Vietnam

1) For ten centuries (until the tenth century AD) Vietnam was a Chinese province. There is no distinct

Vietnamese culture or any significant independent history. In the tenth to eleventh centuries the ancestors of the Vietnamese moved south to the fertile Mekong Delta. They easily overcame the weak local population of Khmers.

2) Only twenty per cent of the country is suitable for agriculture. Most of the terrain is mountainous.

3) Vietnam is very small, geographically but also economically. "Don't dream about it", French businessmen say: its GNP is only twelve per cent the size of Thailand's. A single mid-sized city in China, say Chengdu, has a larger economy.

4) The Vietnamese infrastructure cannot handle large investment projects. In this area of the world there is only one good road, the old colonial road from Saigon to Hanoi.

5) The Taiwanese are making many small investments. European countries including France and the Netherlands have made various large investments which have failed. It is a country that needs more time.

Burma

1) One can only speculate what happened when the military regime got cold feet and decided to pave the way for democratic reforms. It was probably a clash with Chinese interest in the north, on the border to Yunnan. One thing is certain; it wasn't out of good will or some sudden realization that they had been in the wrong.

Cambodia

1) Because of the mountain range bordering Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos are closer to Thailand, culturally and economically. The Chinese are outsourcing much of their textile and footwear industry here, as labour prices have increased in China.

2) The military establishment is getting old, unable to keep their position much longer. They need a compromise before they retire

Australia

1) Traditionally Australia has made few friends in Asia. The country's prosperity has been closely linked to that of the USA and its Western allies. For many of its neighbouring countries have seen it as an American listening post, a vast, under populated land (the population is twenty million), dependent on exporting raw materials to maintain its prosperity.

2) As Asia becomes stronger the Australian political position in the region will become more vulnerable.

Mongolia

1) Once the largest land-based empire ever.

2) The only battle the Mongols ever lost was at sea, against Japan.(The Japanese were helped by the weather; which further strengthened their Shinto piety.)

3) Genghis Khan treated his soldiers better than most European leaders at the time. His bad reputation stems first and foremost from the fact that the history was written by us. Genghis Khan built up what we would call a meritocratic system, and gave his military units and generals a great deal of autonomy. He was also tolerant to different religions, and a good listener, but brutal of course.

The Mongols learned much of their strategy of war by watching attacks by wolves, going in and attacking in one second only to treat in the next. Their horses and their horsemanship made the necessary speed possible.

 
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