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The Impact of the Korean War on the Political Economy of East Asia Essay

The rapid development of East Asia in the 20th century and its rise as the central component of the modern global economy poses several significant challenges to the conventional understanding of political and economic development models. The developmental patterns in East Asia do not fit into previous (mostly erroneous) marketing dichotomies, so widely promoted in Europe.

Evidently, “theories of regional integration are challenged by the success of informal, mostly non-governmental networks in connecting East Asian sub-regions to one another” (Arrighi 10), and the Korean War played not the least role in determining the pathways of East Asian economic and political growth. The Korean War was one of the critical factors shaping the political economy of East Asia.

Beyond promoting bipolarity in Asian politics, the Korean War has temporarily excluded China from the system of regional economic relations in East Asia, having simultaneously provided South Korea and Japan with a unique chance for economic and political renaissance. The Korean War has revealed the majority of regional conflicts and political inconsistencies in East Asia. The political bipolarity in the East Asian trade and economic relations caused a strategic shift in the economic relations between China, Japan, and South Korea.

This bipolarity has actually determined the direction of trade and economic development in these countries. As a result of the Korean War, the East Asian structure of economic and political relations was equally divided between the two powerful dominances – that of the U. S. and that of the Soviet Union (Haggard 80). The Korean War created an atmosphere of the East Asian Cold War, where Japanese and U. S. policymakers were seeking the means to restore close economic ties with South Korea and Taiwan, while China was directing its efforts toward establishing industrialized trade contacts with the U.

S. S. R. (Howe 20; Wade 103). The Korean War has not only pushed Japan to the economic and social highs, but has also “turned it into the primary U. S. prop in U. S. Soviet and U. S. -Chinese conflicts in Asia” (Elek & Wilson 9). In the midst of the political bipolarity, the Korean War has temporarily excluded Mainland China from the “normal commercial and diplomatic intercourse with the non-communist part of the region” (Arrighi 309; Gore 46). The Korean War successfully established the U. S.

-centric political and economic regime; and although the Vietnam War later forced the United States to readmit China as an equal trade and political partner, the years of political and economic isolation have significantly narrowed the scope of Chinese economic integration into East Asia (Campos & Root 54; Selden 98). During the relatively short period of Chinese exclusion, South Korea had a unique chance to restore its economic and political position in the region. The end of the Korean War deepened economic crises in both parts of geographic Korea.

However, its Southern part was quickly realizing the benefits of market approach to economic development, and “with heavy support from the U. S. in the form of aid and markets began to grow quickly” (Hamashita 119). Since the beginning of the 1960s, South Korea has established itself as one of the dominant economic powers in the East Asian region. The Korean War has brought the growth of industrial output, as well as the growth of GDP per capita into all South Korean economic areas (Arrighi 32).

As a result, South Korea was able to turn into one of the major economic forces within the system of trade and economic (as well as political) relations in East Asia. The Korean War has caused irreversible impact on the development and growth of the major East Asian economic giants. The political bipolarity that was brought to East Asia by the Korean conflict resulted in the emergence of the new type of diplomatic and economic intercourse, with Japan and South Korea being the centers of the U. S. economic dominance.

Although the communist China was later readmitted as one of the sources of East Asian economic prosperity, the years of its political exclusion have formed the foundation for the current system of political economy in the region. Works Cited Arrighi, G. The Resurgence of East Asia. Routledge, 2003. Arrighi, G. “The Rise of East Asia: World Systemic and Regional Aspects. ” International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, XVI, no. 7 (1994): 6-44. Campos, J. E. & Root, H. L. The Key to Asian Miracle: Making Shared Growth Credible.

Washington, D. C. : Brookings Institution, 1996. Elek, A. & Wilson, D. “The East Asian Crisis and International Capital Markets. ” Asian- Pacific Economic Literature, vol. 13, no. 1 (1999): 1-21. Gore, L. P. Market Communism: The Institutional Foundation of China’s Post Mao Hyper- Growth. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. Haggard, S. Pathways from the Periphery: The Politics of Growth in the Newly Industrialized Countries. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1990. Hamashita, T. “The Intra-Regional System in East Asia in Modern Times.

” In P. J. Katzenstein and T. Shirashi (eds), Network Power, Japan, and Asia, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1997, 113-35. Howe, C. The Origins of Japanese Trade Supremacy: Development and Technology in Asia from 1540 to the Pacific War. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996. Selden, M. The Political Economy of Chinese Development. Armonk: M. E. Sharpe, 1993. Wade, R. Governing the Market: Economic Theory and the Role of Government in East Asian Industrialization. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990.


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