For half a century following Japan’s invasion of Pearl Harbor in 1941, two sets of events dominated life in East and Southeast Asia. First, the region was home to the most dynamic and successful set of economies in the world. Out of the chaos and confusion of the Second World War and its aftermath, the economies of Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand all rose to become major players in the global economy. The transformation was extraordinary (Maddison 2003). Indeed, these seven successful East and Southeast Asian economies industrialized to such an extent and produced such remarkable annual growth rates over a sustained period that by the late 1980s they were widely characterized as ‘miracle’ economies (Gereffi and Wyman 1990; The Economist 1989; World Bank 1993). Later, China and Vietnam could also lay claim to be part of the East and Southeast Asian success story. Second, the region was embroiled in a series of wars. Starting with the Second World War and continuing through the Chinese Civil War, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the series of local guerrilla wars that broke out across the region during the 40 years after 1945, the states of East and Southeast Asia endured a number of major military encounters. Most importantly, there was the all-embracing and overarching Cold War which drove the Korean War and the Vietnam War and which repeatedly threatened to explode into open conflict in places such the Taiwan Strait.
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