Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Politics & Asia

A RECENT BUSINESS trip to Asia has forced me to neglect Just Inside the Beltway for a couple of weeks. But my whirlwind trips to Bangkok, Hong Kong, and Thailand did enable me to catch a glimps of politics, Asian-style. It's nice to know that democracy is good and strong in all parts of the world. Here's a breif synopsis:

In Bangkok the past several weeks have been marked with mass demonstrations demanding the resignation of Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shiniwatra. Protesters have demanded that he resign before the scheduled elections in early April. What makes these protests interesting is that it appears Thaksin has a good deal of support outside Bangkok. That doesn't seem to matter much, however, to those who live in the capital city. They have vowed to continue protesting until Thaksin resigns. More in the International Herald-Tribune.

Hong Kong...well, they're still plugging along with relative calm. The city is recovering from a slight economics downturn and businesses are once again coming back to the city. In recent years companies have been moving from Hong Kong to other Asian hotspots including Singapore and Taipei -- mainly because those cities are cheaper. I did talk with one British businessman from Hong Kong who said that the emergence of smaller Asian countries into the global marketplace (countries like Vietnam) will help Hong Kong remain the leading city in Asia in terms of business and economics.

Meanwhile, in Taipei the people are trying to understand where they stand in terms of independence and the future of their economy. Taiwan is struggling to change their economy from a manufacturing powerhouse to a world-wide service provider. The results have been mixed, although signs show marked improvement in recent years. Those favoring independence argue that a strong global economy is the best way to free themselves from China -- but that comes at a price, namely a widening gap between the richest and poorest segments of the population. The fear is that the have-not's in the country will ultimately loose faith in the independence movement since the movement has, in many respects, left them far behind.

Ah yes, global politics. Isn't is grand?


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