|Technological Independence The Asian experience (UNU, 1994, 372 pages)|
|7. The lessons from Asia: From past experience to the future|
What then, are the "lessons" that we can learn from these studies of different countries? The countries have varied in terms of size, political regime, stage of development, cultural and historical background, and socio-economic conditions. Important issues that are mentioned explicitly or implicitly in the country reports will be discussed below. Issues raised only in one or a few case-studies, but considered vital for the region in general, will also be elaborated and generalized. In addition, other broader aspects and contextual issues vital for self-reliance - particularly those relating to the newer technologies which have only recently come to the fore and are not covered by the individual studies- will be taken up. In the early 1990s the cumulative results of an epoch are being experienced and a possible geopolitical turning-point in technology witnessed. Hence the need for the larger picture.
A first "lesson" is that, in the more successful cases, the groups that led industrialization and technology mastery had a strong historical awareness of, and identification with, their countries prior to embarking on industrialization. They were also aware of the socio-economic environment in the world outside, especially in the then developed countries. With that background, they could help bridge the gap between themselves and the industrialized world. There was both a committed leadership and important political and cultural debates within the country on the need for, as well as the direction of, the path of industrialization.
To the category of groups that successfully led industrialization and the mastery of technology belong the original Meiji élite and its successors, including the post-Second World War Ministry of Trade and Industry (MITI) in Japan. In the case of China and India, those who debated and responded to the Western political and economic encroachment also belong to this category. Similarly, in the Republic of Korea the Japanese subjugation and the Korean War prepared the country for a major industrialization effort. All these four countries have succeeded to varying degrees in their industrialization efforts.
The Thai report does not mention the Thai debates, but the fact that it was not colonized and that its leadership could weigh options relatively freely were undoubtedly important factors in Thailand making not inconsiderable economic and industrial progress.
It is in the Philippines case that the effects of cultural colonization and the lack of argued-out positions on industrialization and self-reliance became apparent, resulting in the country's weak commitment to effective industrialization.