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TMCNet:  South Korea’s rapid ascent to developed status neglected by Chinese [Global Times]

[July 07, 2014]

South Korea’s rapid ascent to developed status neglected by Chinese [Global Times]

(Global Times Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) In the 1970s, some Japanese scholars asserted that South Korea would become a strong power that is competitive to Japan. As expected, after a few decades, Japan's automobile, electronics technology and information products have been directly challenged by South Korea. Unfortunately, it seems that the Chinese people do not have enough respect for South Korea.I believe South Korea has at least four advantages that China can learn from.First, South Korea is the only emerging country that has successfully leaped across the middle-class trap since the end of the Cold War. According to the definition by the World Bank, after passing the $1,000 GDP per capita poverty trap, emerging-market countries will enter a conflict-prone period. Many countries in Latin America have suffered from retrogression of social development. Lots of economists believe that China today is in this sensitive period. Hence, perhaps China can learn from South Korea's experience in this regard.Besides, South Korea is among a small group of countries that have a profitable cultural export industry. The cultural industry in South Korea creates about 7 percent of the total GDP while this number is only about 2 percent in China. South Korea's cultural industry positively promotes social vitality and national image. In 1998, the South Korean government raised the strategy of building South Korea into a culture-oriented country. Since then, achievements have been made by the country in just a decade and a half. This sets a good example to China, which has also tried to build itself into a cultural power in recent years.South Korea developed through a successful industrial strategy. Shipbuilding, electronics, automobile and semiconductor are the leading industries in South Korea.Among these industries, South Korea's shipbuilding accounts for more than half of the global market share and its semiconductor industry ranges No.2 in the world. South Korea has already transformed from a country depending on product assembly with a trade deficit to a core technology-exporting country in Asia. This is also the goal of China, who pursues industrial transformation and structural adjustment.South Korea desires a ranking among the global powers. Few people pay attention as to why many heads of the important international organizations, such as the UN and the World Bank, are South Koreans. Also, almost all important international sports events, such as the World Cup, the Olympic Games, the IAAF World Championships in Athletics, and the Formula One World Championship, have been held by South Korea. South Korea's level of activity in international society is high enough for China, who always says it is keen to integrate into the world, to admire.Unfortunately, influenced by Paul Kennedy's book The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500 to 2000, Chinese thinking about the rise of powers has become fixed. The Rise of the Great Powers, a documentary that drew a great deal of attention years ago in China, lists nine precedents of the rise of powers from the Netherlands in the 15th century to the Soviet Union and the US in the 20th century. However, South Korea was not among them. In fact, we should not underestimate South Korea. At least to China, the significance of the rise of South Korea is no less important than that of Spain, the Netherlands and Portugal.Of course, I don't advocate deifying South Korea. The defects of the chaebol system and the drawback of Seoul-centrism are problems that China should avoid.The author is the executive dean of the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn (c) 2014 Global Times. All rights reserved. Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (Syndigate.info).


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