There are at least three important structural forces at work in East Asia. Globalization, the ending
process of the Cold War, and democratization in domestic societies. They are the key components of
“dynamism” in East Asia.
Without globalization, the rise of Newly Industrialized Economies in the 1980s, the East Asian
Miracle in the early 1990s, and the rise of China have all been impossible. The ending process of the
Cold War, which in Asia actually started in the 1970s in the form of Sino-American rapprochement,
gradually created a sphere of inter-state peace, thus contributing to the economic development in the
region. Since the Sino-Vietnamese War of 1979, which was deeply colored by the remnant of the
Cold War in Asia, there have been no inter-state wars in East Asia. Since the Paris peace accord of
Cambodia in 1991, East Asia has seen no large scale civil wars, either.
Democratization has steadily been in progress in East Asia. Since the middle of 1980s, many
countries saw transition from authoritarian rules to democratic ones: the Philippines, South Korea,
Taiwan, Thailand, and Indonesia. Pressure for more liberalization is increasing in non-democratic
However, these three trends, though desirable in themselves, because of their dynamic nature,
often create instability.
The Asian financial crisis was a manifestation of such dynamic instability of globalization. Many
countries had to face political and social disruption as well as economic crises. Where there are
inadequate institutions, misplaced policies, corruption, and combination of various other vulnerabilities,
a small incident could trigger a panic that leads to a chain reaction in other countries that have similar
The ending process of the Cold War has also created instability. The current crisis over North
Korea, though often described as the remnant of the Cold War in East Asia, can partly be explained by
the end of the Cold War. The sudden termination of the Soviet security guarantee and the economic