|Emerging World Cities in Pacific Asia (UNU, 1996, 528 pages)|
|Part 1. Global - Asia - Pacific functional linkages|
|International transport and communications interactions between Pacific Asia's emerging world cities|
Analysing telecommunications interactions between world cities presents a problem. The most comprehensive set of data is contained in the International Telecommunication Union's statistical yearbook (ITU, 1988). Since 1973, it has provided a complete set of telecommunications parameters and economic data for the 180 member countries of the International Telegraphic Union (ITU) (Luhan, 1989). It has collected data on various branches of common carrier telecommunications - telephone, telegram, telex, and data transmission. This source provides a guide to the size of telecommunications systems, traffic, and staff, and distinguishes between domestic and international traffic. Apart from showing that the world's highest growth occurred in Pacific Asia, an analysis of international traffic does not provide any information on interactions between countries, let alone world cities.
There are no comparable statistics to those produced by the United States' Federal Communications Commission showing international message telephone services and telegraph and telex services between the continental United States and overseas countries. Evidence from Japan shows that the most common medium for corporate communications with the rest of Asia is facsimile, followed by the telephone and the telex (MPT, 1988). Telex use relative to facsimile use has been comparatively high because the telephone network between Japan and the rest of Asia has not been as well developed as that between Europe and North America. Greater use of the telephone has been encouraged by the small distance between Japan and the rest of Asia.
The most useful sources for studying Pacific Asia's telecommunications are publications from the International Institute of Communications (Staple and Mullins, 1989; Staple, 1990). They trace telecommunications traffic to and from 16 countries, including Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand. Although China, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Malaysia are excluded, figures are provided for them when major telecommunication correspondents are given for the selected countries. As no information is provided on linkages and interactions between world cities, these country data have to suffice as a guide to Pacific Asia's "telegeography. "
When the traffic patterns for public voice circuits measured in MITT (Minutes of Telecommunications Traffic) are mapped for the fiscal year 1988 (April 1988 - March 1989), three economies feature as key "sources" - Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore - and one - Taiwan as a major "sink" (fig. 3.13). The position of Japan - a "junction state" for South Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong - reflected its marked growth in outbound traffic since the late 1980s. Hong Kong, a net exporter to Taiwan and telecommunications entrepôt for China, directed almost one-third of its outbound traffic to the mainland. China's market increased annually during the mid-1980s at between 40 and 50 per cent and propelled its Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications into the "top 25" international carriers in 1988, albeit in last place.2 Singapore has dominant connections with Indonesia, Japan, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. The lesser prominence of Taiwan, as of South Korea, has stemmed from reluctance to open home markets to external competitive pressures, which are guaranteed to boost international traffic.3 Although Thailand, like Indonesia, has pretensions to being a key telecommunications player, its traffic is much smaller than that of other Pacific Asia counterparts.4
Paradoxically, Thailand (60 per cent) is more heavily dependent on telecommunications correspondents within Pacific Asia than are other economies. Taiwan (57 per cent), Hong Kong, and Singapore (54 per cent each) are the next most dependent on Pacific Asia markets, followed by South Korea (39 per cent) and Japan (37 per cent). This dependence is likely to increase with the region's continued economic expansion, fuelled by intra-Pacific Asia investment and tourism. Within the region it will be reflected in the growth in facsimile traffic, increased per capita flow of outbound traffic, and the progressive switch from outgoing international letters to international telephone calls and facsimiles.5