There is strength in numbers. United we stand. All for one and…well, at least we hope so.; thus it would seem as the smaller nations of Southeast Asia huddle closer and closer together under the ASEAN parasol beneath the growing Sino-shadow. It wasn’t always so.
Not so many years ago, the Asian Pacific countries, each in their turn, led the way into a rising sun of peace and prosperity. Japan was first to break from the pack with technological innovations and production efficiencies. Made in Japan was more and more replaced by made in Korea, made in Malaysia, made in Taiwan, made in Hong Kong, and then made in…you guessed it, China. Still, in those halcyon years of the late 20th Century, the whole phenomenon was referred to as the Asian Economic Miracle.
Somehow, well, we really know how but perhaps we’ll look closer at it in another chapter, America seemed to have this world view that it was THE world. In this fisheye lens perspective, ships laden with an endless stream of inexpensive consumer goods popped up from somewhere over the horizon, satisfying our every needs. It seemed there was sort of an oriental Santa’s Workshop over there in Asia, filled with happy little workers, intent on fulfilling America’s and the world’s every material wish. Perhaps to some extent the nations of Asian Pacific may have been caught up into a bit of that friendly feeling themselves. But Hong Kong changed all that.
In 1997, Great Britain handed over the keys to the city to the Chinese central government, and in so doing handed the keys to the world’s economic kingdom to the cadres of the Middle Kingdom. The first decade of the 21st century saw the release of the economic genius of the Chinese people. And as that first decade progressed, the rising economic genie began to cast an increasingly confident dragon’s shadow over its smaller neighbors. Thus it was that the member countries of ASEAN began to huddle closer and closer together for at least negotiating position protection.
ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, consists of Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Singapore.