chapter  1
18 Pages

The new rich in Asia: economic development, social status and political consciousness

In recent years the imagination of the West, and indeed, of the East as well, has been captured by the dramatic emergence in East and Southeast Asia of a new middle class and a new bourgeoisie. On the television screens and in the press of Western countries, the images formerly associated with affluence, power and privilege in Asia - the generals, the princes and the party apparatchiks - however outmoded in reality, are being increasingly replaced by more recognisable symbols of modernity. Western viewers are now familiar with images of frustrated commuters in Bangkok and Hong Kong traffic jams, Chinese and Indonesian capitalist entrepreneurs signing deals with Western companies; white-coated Malaysian or Taiwanese computer programmers and other technical experts at work in electronics plants; and, above all, crowds of Asian consumers at McDonalds or with the Ubiquitous mobile phone in hand.