Theoretical Findings in Comparative Research on Asia’s Political Development

Social Sciences in China (Chinese Edition)

No.2, 2014


Theoretical Findings in Comparative Research on Asia’s Political Development



Fang Ning


On the basis of five years of investigation and research on the political development of the Asian countries of Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Iran, Vietnam, the Philippines, India and China’s Taiwan region, we find that government structures, power structures, and interest structures constitute the basic structures of the political system. Government structures function to regulate power structures while interest structures function to build power structures. The experience of political development in Asia indicates that newly emergent social groups formed in the course of industrialization are the main driving force for political development; their efforts to obtain political participation and political rights lead to changes in the political system. Compared to the twofold growth of powers and rights in American political development, Asian countries and regions generally adopt a “hedging” strategy of assuring the rights of the mass of the people and concentrating state power so as to guard against the social and political conflicts that might arise from the opening up of power. This is aimed at bringing into play the “production incentives” effect in order to encourage industrialization and the rapid development of their national economies. The divergence between “Asia in the fast lane” and “Asia in the slow lane” indicates that traditional social structures restrict the equal rights of citizens and tend to form monopolistic profitsharing groups. For this reason, traditional social structures tend to be much weaker in countries that have industrialized successfully. Highly centralized forms of government tend to prioritize the realization of social ideals and are more suited to developing countries; forms of government where power is relatively decentralized tend to be more concerned about the immediate interest demands of the mass of the people and are more suited to developed countries.