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The Adaptive Developmental State in East Asia

  • Joseph Wong

In 1997, several of Asia's economies collapsed and the international community was called in to help mend the ailing region. The crisis attracted a great deal of attention among both the scholarly and policy communities. At that time, it seemed that the Asian miracle had come to an abrupt end. Places such as South Korea enjoyed a prosperous run though suffered a dubious demise. Later developers in Southeast Asia and China, having just emerged from out of the starting gate, quickly stalled in their attempts to ride the wave of Asia's postwar economic dynamism. Fortunately, things would not remain dour for too long. Some countries, such as Taiwan and Japan, made it through the crisis relatively unscathed. Both China and South Korea quickly rebounded. Southeast Asian countries, such as Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand, adapted and have consequently begun new growth trajectories. In the end, it seemed that the most severe and lasting casualty of the 1997 crisis was the East Asian developmental state model itself. To be sure, the more recent literatures on East Asian political economy have taken a sharp turn, wherein terms like “booty capitalism” and “crony capitalism” have quickly come to replace more laudatory titles such as the “East Asian Miracle.”

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Thanks to Edward Friedman, Byung-Kook Kim, Louis Pauly, Ito Peng, Richard Sandbrook, and Victor Shih, along with the anonymous reviewer, for their very constructive comments on earlier drafts of this article.

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Journal of East Asian Studies
  • ISSN: 1598-2408
  • EISSN: 2234-6643
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-east-asian-studies
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