*A Book Review*
By John Naisbitt
by Michael C. Gray
June 19, 2000
Megatrends Asia is an eye-opening look at the dramatic developments in Asia that are having a major impact on the order of nations and economics in our world.
John Naisbitt is in a unique position to observe the changes in Asia. At the time he wrote the book, he had been living in Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia, for a year and a half. He was working as a Distinguished International Fellow at the Institute of International Studies in Kuala Lumpur and also at Nanjing University in China.
The overall message of this book is that Asia is on the verge of becoming a significant, possibly dominant, player in world affairs. Asia is rapidly developing into staggering consumer and producer marketplaces that everyone must become aware of to exploit business opportunities and compete in the world marketplace.
Although America's focus has been on Japan, the principal influence in the development of the region will be the ethnic Chinese. People who are ethnically Chinese, but live outside China, have become an important economic power. They are more creative and entrepreneurial than their Japanese counterparts, and distrust governments. They prefer to build their success through network relationships, including family participation.
The ethnic Chinese are financing the development of the region, including mainland China, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines.
Asians value education highly as a means to economic advancement. Many of the Asians who have gone overseas to study and work are now starting to return to help develop the region. They are discovering there are great opportunities to assume leadership positions in their homelands that are denied to them in other countries, including the United States.
The governments of Asian countries have made a priority of installing communications infrastructure, including fiber optics, high-speed digital transmission systems and cellular telephone systems to bring their economies into the information age. The governments are also providing incentives for technology research centers.
There is a shortage of educated workers to fill the needs of rapidly growing companies. Women have been stepping into leadership positions to fill these needs and participate as partners alongside men. Many women have decided to devote themselves to careers instead of having traditional large families. Since women are becoming less dependent on men, they are choosing to marry later or not at all, and some are choosing to be single parents or not to have any children.
Workers in Asia have a growing disposable income. The region is changing from a net exporter to a net importer of goods. The young people, in particular, are more consumption oriented, including shopping for fashionable clothing and accessories, as well as consumer products like cellular telephones and automobiles. The Asian consumer market will soon surpass the United States.
With a huge population of consumers, Asia faces huge ecological problems. (And our world faces the problem of dwindling resources for petroleum to satisfy the ever-growing demand.)
Though the common language of world commerce is now English, in Asia more and more people are using Mandarin (Chinese) to talk to each other. According to Naisbitt, they may be offended if we don't make an effort to learn it when communicating with them. We were promoting Japanese as a desirable language to learn in our schools for trade with Asia, but Mandarin will probably become more important.
This book is filled with statistics that are sure to make your eyes pop about the enormous population of people of Asia and the changes taking place there. Considering it was published in 1996, many of Naisbitt's forecasts have already materialized.
As I see it, the wild card for the development of Asia is whether the world remains a relatively peaceful place. It's amazing how we can progress if we can just get along with each other. Last week, North and South Korea had an exploratory meeting for reconciliation. If we can maintain this trend of peaceful reconciliation and a free marketplace, encouraging respecting individual rights in this growing region, Asia will become a formidable partner in our world.
To learn more about the amazing development of this marketplace and developing world power, be sure to put Megatrends Asia on your required reading list.
Buy it on Amazon: Megatrends Asia.
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