Bruce Nussbaum's commentary about the historical roots of the current Asian financial crisis is both timely and informative ("Asia's crisis: The cold war's final legacy," Asian Business, Dec. 1). The cold war has indeed given rise to crony capitalism in the Asian countries, including Japan and Taiwan, fostering many uncompetitive commercial practices and resulting in a huge oversupply of certain categories of goods. The political arrangements, too, suggest that political democracy is yet to be fully established in the Asia-Pacific region.
It would be premature, however, for us to herald the end of the cold war in these parts of the world. China, after all, has officially refused to renounce one-party rule or the command-and-control, centralized economy. Indeed, the existence of a huge and economically growing totalitarian state such as China makes it very hard for countries around it to proceed with radical reorganization and restructuring of their economies and political systems.
By stubbornly refusing to consider political democracy and refusing to do away with the Communist Party's leadership role, the Chinese are, in effect, prolonging the cold war in the region. No totalitarian state can remain benign forever, especially one as large and economically powerful as China.
I am writing to applaud Bruce Nussbaum's commentary on the current state of the Asian crisis. Nussbaum brings keen insight to this situation through the lens of world history since World War II. As the proprietor of an international commodity business who witnesses reverberations of the recent Pacific Rim meltdown every day, I thought Nussbaum's comments encapsulated the situation completely and concisely. I have recommended it to many friends and business associates as a perfect description of what is happening in that region and why.