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The term Four Asian Tigers or Asian Tigers refers to the highly developed economies of: They are also known as Asia's Four Little Dragons in Chinese. These regions were the first newly industrialized countries, noted for maintaining exceptionally high growth rates and rapid industrialization between the early 1960s and 1990s. In the 21st century, all four regions have since graduated into advanced economies and high-income economies. These regions are still the world's fastest growing industrialized economies. However, attention has increasingly shifted to other Asian economies which are now experiencing faster economic transformation particulary the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, sometimes being considered as the New Four Asian Tigers.

All four Asian Tigers have a highly educated and skilled workforce and have specialized in areas where they had a competitive advantage. For example, Hong Kong and Singapore became world leading international financial centres, while South Korea and Taiwan became world leaders in information technology. Their economic success stories became known as the Miracle on the Han River and the Taiwan Miracle (see Sho-Chieh Tsiang) and have served as role models for many developing countries.

South Korea, the largest by far of the Four Asian Tigers, became the only Tiger to become a High-income OECD member, join the G-20 major economies, and be listed among the Next Eleven countries, while emerging as the world's largest shipbuilder, the world's fourth largest carmaker, and creating major global multinational such as Samsung, LG and Hyundai-Kia.

Role of traditional philosophies

Economic success in Japanmarker, followed by the Four Asian Tigers, has been attributed to the existence of harmonious labor-management relations (cf. W. Dean Kinzley, Industrial Harmony in Modern Japan: The Invention of a Tradition, Routledge, London & New York, 1991). “Industrial Harmony” is this unique “culture of harmony” that was consciously invented and developed over the last century in Japan. A semi-bureaucratic organization called the “Kyochokai” (The Co-operation and Harmony Society) was established in 1919 to meet the needs of an emerging industrial society. The Kyochokai took the lead in trying to define the values which would be suitable for a new Japanese-style industrial society, at the time of great social troubles in industrial Europe. The resulting "invented" tradition has played an important role in the evolution and character of Japanese economic values and behavior of social peace for economic development.

Japanese experience appears to challenge unilinear theories of modernization, and to suggest that Japan’s uniqueness lies in the creation of its own kind of modernity, sharply divergent from that to be found in Western countries, and based paradoxically upon a reaffirmation of ancient Confucian values and native Japanese traditions of harmony, self-sacrifice and non-individualistic group striving in pursuit of a common cause. Japan’s emphasis on long-term growth, scrupulous market evaluation, and process engineering are all well regarded as important components of its economic development.

These "Asian values" are the foundations ("Grund" as it used to be) of "Asian political economy". Abandoning import substitution, the model advocated in the developing world following the two world wars, the Four Asian Tigers pursued an export-driven model of economic development with the exportation of goods to highly-industrialized nations. Domestic consumption was discouraged through government policies such as high tariffs. The Four Asian Tigers singled out education as a means of improving productivity; these territories focused on improving the education system at all levels; heavy emphasis was placed on ensuring that all children attended elementary education and compulsory high school education. Money was also spent on improving the college and university system.

Since the Four Asian Tigers were relatively poor during the 1960s, these nations had an abundance of cheap labor. Coupled with educational reform, they were able to leverage this combination into a cheap, yet productive workforce. The Four Asian Tigers committed to egalitarianism in the form of land reform, to promote property rights and to ensure that agricultural workers would not become disgruntled. Also, policies of agricultural subsidies and tariffs on agricultural products were implemented as well.

These places had strong industrial economies which set them apart from all other places in Asia.

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