I’d read Joe Studwell’s How Asia Works over lunar new year. Studwell dealt directly with there reasons for East Asia’s economic growth and Southeast Asia’s failing to follow them.
Studwell attached this same subject through through a different lens. In Asian Godfathers, he tells the story through Asia’s business tycoons; from the taipans of Hong Kong to Stanley Ho – the Macau gambling tycoon.
Cosmopolitan privileged people who where in the right place at the right time. Some of them had colourful origin stories as black marketers selling fake medicines and blockade runners. But they are just a side show in a wider panorama of political greed and incompetence. Asian Godfathers is more like Hotel Babylon than an economics analysis like How Asia Works, yet it delivers its message forcefully.
A few years ago, I was involved in a project that used QRcodes on OOH (out of home) activity for a retail launch. QRcode scanners varied in performance. In addition you had to think about:
- Contrast – did the QRcode stand out?
- Relative aspect – would it be too big or too small for the audience to scan?
In the UK, QRcodes are seen by marketers as old hat (but then they didn’t ‘get’ them in the same way that Asia did). Other people don’t really understand how to use them.
Above is the picture of the local cafe around the corner from my office. The QRcode is too disjointed and blurred to read. I asked a member of staff about it and he told me that he thought it was some type of logo…
Where do I start with a book title this inflammatory? I went to the trouble of reading the book twice before starting this review. In the end, the only conclusion I can come to is ‘Policy Faultlines in East Asia’ doesn’t have the same ring to it.
Holsag marshals a huge range of facts and opinions within the book. If you want to have a basic understanding of modern Chinese state, the book is a good primer.
He provides insight into the Chinese Communist’s Party’s policy cornerstone of territory maximisation. They were happy to put off their agenda for tactical advantage, but never gave up on their goals. China’s neighbours have similar inflexible policy goals. There is is no win-win solution.
Time has brought increased pressures. A fight for resources to fuel further growth and water rights conflicts. Relative declines in economic growth also fuels nationalistic politics. In China, nationalistic sentiments in citizens grew with prosperity. It has become convenient for politicians to tap into nationalistic sentiments.
Holsag doesn’t attempt to provide a solution for de-escalation of these edges. His book only provides a macro-level understanding of the countries involved. For the reader who wants to understand Asia, Holsag’s book is an excellent primer. More on China’s Coming War With Asia by Jonathan Holsag.
Edelman’s Trust Barometer has become a kind of zeitgeist meter for the kind of people who go to the World Economic Forum at Davos.
This year Edelman talks about the Grand Illusion, that everyday people will follow the global elites. Income inequality and a growing realisation that the future won’t get better has gradually changed perceptions. It is yet another data point that signals the death of the American Dream and according to Citi the end of Pax Americana.
It is also worthwhile looking at BAV Consulting research on ‘the best countries in the world’ to see how country brand equity are now perceived.
Prepare for the Post Pax-Americana era, says Citi – FT (paywall)
2016 Trust Barometer: Divide Opens Up Between Global Elite And Public | Holmes Report
U.S. News & World Report, WPP’s BAV Consulting & The Wharton School on best countries in the world | PR Newswire
Especially to my peeps in Hong Kong