Bringing Vision--and Hope--to Asia

The sixth annual BusinessWeek report on Asian Stars highlights a major shift in the socioeconomic zeitgeist of Asia. This year's visionaries reflect Asia's battle against severe acute respiratory syndrome and against major legal, cultural, educational, and social welfare issues in the region. Their struggle is a critical part of the effort to build strong economies that is attracting many of Asia's brightest people.

Perhaps the most controversial choice this year is Chinese President Hu Jintao. Hu was already part of China's leadership when SARS broke out, and no one knows what role he played in the cover-up of the original outbreak by Chinese authorities. But faced with a crisis that threatened China's economic future, Hu moved quickly into the role of reformer, forcefully removing officials involved with the scandal, touring the countryside to reassure anxious peasants, and encouraging China's controlled press to make SARS a major front-page story.

There is also, of course, Dr. Carlo Urbani, the World Health Organization's Hanoi representative who gave his life battling SARS in Vietnam. And there are thousands of other doctors and nurses who still struggle to contain it in Asia. On their success depends the economic success of the entire region.

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