The four Asian tigers

The Four Asian Tigers is an economic term given to the economies of four countries: South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, and Hong Kong. This term appeared thirty years ago to describe the tremendous economic growth experienced by these countries. In the 1960s, these countries were poor and broken, but they turned into prosperous countries thanks to their amazing industrial and economic leaps.

The term is derived from the status of tigers in Asian cultures, where the Asian tiger represents speed and rapid movement. This accurately reflects the previous countries' acceleration in growth and transition to the industrialization stage. Although capitalist economic theory links prosperity with democracy and the availability of natural resources, these countries were an exception, as they suffered from a scarcity of mineral and natural resources.

These countries mainly adopted a strategy of investing in human resources, as they achieved the highest rates of growth in education and income in the world. South Korea, for example, has risen from a country badly damaged by civil war to a leading industrial nation with today's ninth-largest economy in the world. Likewise, Taiwan has witnessed amazing economic leaps that have raised citizen incomes to high levels.

Economists say that the economic policies adopted by these countries are the main reason behind the great economic growth they have witnessed. Among these policies, strong export and development policies come to the fore, which have contributed to achieving sustainable growth and increasing the per capita GDP. The World Bank attributes this miracle to the accumulation of factors and the style of macroeconomic management as the main reasons for this economic success.

Developmental models of Asian tigers:

The development models of the Asian Tigers show inspiring economic success stories, and among these examples are Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and South Korea.

Taiwan and its economic model:

Taiwan's economy is considered the fifth largest in Asia and is considered among the largest economies in the world. Taiwan pursued a policy of privatization to overcome economic crises, selling the most important government institutions and banks to the private sector. Despite the negative effects on citizens, this policy allowed large economic entities to improve services at a lower cost, and contributed to Taiwan's economic success, as the rate of domestic production and the proportion of exports increased.

Hong Kong and its economic model:

Hong Kong has an economic liberalization policy, eliminating all duties and taxes on trade. Hong Kong's economy is classified as one of the most economically free economies in the world, which has contributed to making it a global economic center. Hong Kong's policies encourage investment, liberalize the currency market, and allow banks the freedom to determine the value of the local currency.

Singapore and its economic model:

Singapore's economy is characterized by global openness and a blend of efficiency and influence. Singapore is considered one of the most economically open countries, offering investors economic benefits and eliminating duties and taxes when it comes to business activities. Singapore ranks third globally in terms of GDP and is experiencing sustained growth.

South Korea and its economic model:

South Korea's economy is among its true successes, transforming itself from one of the poorest countries into one of the world's largest economies. Its model is based on diversifying industries and stimulating exports, which contributed to a high rate of domestic production and an improvement in the volume of foreign trade. Demonstrates an advanced approach to technology and innovation.


These economic models show that investing in infrastructure, liberalizing the economy, encouraging foreign investment, and diversifying the economy can be the keys to success in achieving sustainable economic development.

How did the Asian tigers succeed?

The Asian Tigers succeeded in achieving significant economic growth thanks to a combination of internal and external factors, as they followed a specific development strategy that focused on diversifying export industries and taking advantage of the abundance of labor at low costs. This strategy relies on importing raw materials and manufacturing them within the country, which gives it a competitive advantage in global markets.

Among the internal factors that contributed to the success were the implementation of strict fiscal and monetary policies to maintain price stability and avoid inflation. Emphasis was also placed on the lack of a minimum wage and the lack of tightening working hours, which led to many foreign companies becoming involved and investing in these economies.

In terms of external factors, the Cold War played a major role as these countries received generous support from the Western camp to achieve modernization and economic growth. The international monetary system has also contributed to providing global stability in exchange rates, making these countries able to safely engage in long-term export and import deals.

Economic openness and the adoption of competitive capitalist models contributed to the Asian Tigers' remarkable economic growth.

Despite all these huge achievements, this does not negate the negatives, defects, deficiencies and contradictions that marred the experience, which are as follows:

Despite all the huge achievements achieved by the Asian Tigers, there are negative aspects, defects and shortcomings in their experience, and these defects and shortcomings appear clearly in several aspects:

  • Gross exploitationWorkers, women and children were subjected to great exploitation in order to achieve economic growth, as their rights were sacrificed in order to achieve economic goals.

  • The stark disparity: There has been great inequality in the distribution of income and wealth between different social groups, leading to the formation of large economic gaps and disproportionate disparities in prosperity and poverty.

  • Weakness of social organizations: This economic model sees civil society and human rights organizations severely weakened, with individuals deprived of their rights to unionize and political participation, leading to an almost complete absence of democracy.

  • Neglecting the environment: There is a great disregard for environmental issues, resulting in increased pollution of the air, water and land, threatening the environment and human health.

  • High dependence on export: The heavy reliance on export philosophy as a means of achieving growth is a fundamental weakness of this experience, as it makes these countries more sensitive to external shocks and fluctuations in export markets.

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