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What are the comparisons (or a comparison) of the economy of the Pacific Rim after WWII...

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brandih | eNotes Employee

Posted April 23, 2013 at 11:06 PM via web

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What are the comparisons (or a comparison) of the economy of the Pacific Rim after WWII and the Soviet bloc?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 23, 2013 at 11:19 PM (Answer #1)

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First of all, we need to realize that there are many countries that are seen as part of the “Pacific Rim.”  They can have very different economic systems.  For example, both North Korea and the United States can be seen as “Pacific Rim” countries and they have very different economic systems.

In the years shortly after WWII, there were countries on the Pacific Rim that did have economic systems that were similar to those of the Soviet bloc.  Most specifically, there were the communist countries of North Korea and China. 

On the other hand, there were many countries on the Pacific Rim with economies that were not like that of the Soviet bloc.  The United States was one such country.  So was Australia. 

There were also some countries whose economies were both similar to and different from the Soviet bloc.  Two examples of this would have been Japan and Singapore.  In both cases, these economies were mainly capitalistic.  However, they had governments that were very much involved in directing the economy.  They tried to push the economy in the directions they wanted (in Japan, this was toward manufacturing for export) without having complete command economies.

Thus, various countries of the Pacific Rim had economies that resembled those of the Soviet bloc to differing degrees.

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kipling2448 | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 24, 2013 at 1:03 AM (Answer #2)

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First, the Pacific Rim encompases a huge expanse of land and ocean.  In fact, most of the world's population resides in the Pacific Rim.  Consequently, the economic systems present within the Pacific Rim have run the spectrum from the command economies of the Soviet Union, North Korea, and China from the ascent of the Chinese Communist Party (1949) to the death of Mao tse Tung (1976) and subsequent rise of Deng Xaioping (1978), to the free market capitalist model of the United States.  

The end of World War II marked the demise of the European colonial powers and the rise of the United States and the Soviet Union in what became a bipolar international structure pitting the liberal democracies with free market economic systems of the West against the Marxist-Leninist command economies of the East.  Japan emerged from the devastation of war to become one of the largest economies in the world, employing an economic system combining capitalist principles and extensive governmental intervention in the economy, a model followed on a smaller, yet highly successful scale, by Singapore.

In Southeast Asia, the so-called Asian Tigers -- Hong Kong (a British protectorate until being handed over to Chinese control in 1997), Taiwan, South Korea, and Singapore, later joined by Indonesia and Malaysia -- all saw high rates of economic development employing capitalist principles and high levels of government involvement.  Other Southeast Asian countries, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos saw far lower levels of economic development due to warfare and inefficient, state-controlled economies.  Like China since the death of Mao, Vietnam has moved toward greater degree of economic freedom while maintaining tight control on politics.  Cambodia has very recently begun to develop economically following decades of war, the horrors of Khmer Rouge rule (1975-1979), occupation by Vietnam, and political instability and violence that followed Vietnam's withdrawal. But, it also remains under the control of an autocratic ruler, Hun Sen.

The South American "Pacific Rim" nation of Chile has been a noted economic success story in a region devastated by armed insurgencies, drug trafficking, and high rates of poverty.  Chile can be considered a progenitor of the economic systems later adopted by China and Vietnam.  Following the coup d'etat that brought General Augusto Pinochet to power in 1973, Chile instituted a free market economic system that produced tremendous economic growth despite the brutality inflicted on the nation by Pinochet's regime.

The Soviet Union's collapse provided Russia the opportunity to adopt a less autocratic economic system, but endemic corruption, the rise of organized crime, and the political machinations of the Putin-led government has stymied its economic potential.  While Russia has, by global standards, a very large economy, it remains highly ineffecient and burdened by the chaos that emerged out of the Soviet Union's demise, when a small number of influential businessmen exploited the privatization of previously state-owned industries for their own profit without regard for the greater good of the country. [These businessmen are known as "oligarchs." Those that remained in Russia following Vladimir Putin's rise to power must remain loyal to him or risk persecution; those that fled Russia risk assassination.]

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