Chinese capitalism: cultures, the Southeast Asian region and economic globalisation


Globalisation is often presumed to be an economically, socially and culturally homogenising force. The deterioration of capitalism’ s major rival in the early 1990s has paved the way for a truly global economy in which all participants increasingly operate under the general logic of capitalismÐ that is, a market-orientated system of production and exchange, private ownership and a ̄ exible labour market predicated upon self-interest. Yet, while the pressures of globalisation are obviously formidable and increasingly felt by all, economic societies remain diverse and have responded to these pressures in unique ways. This article makes its case for the continued diversity of capitalism by emphasising the unique mode of economic organisation that has emerged in Southeast Asia; one rooted in the demands of globalisation as well as in the cultural foundations of the Overseas Chinese. The evolution of ethnic-Chinese business networks, which de® ne Southeast Asia’ s political economy, constitutes a unique reaction to the pressures of globalisation and has laid the basis for a distinct articulation of capitalism in the region. Globalization is not ̄ attening civil societies around the world but, rather, combining with local conditions in distinctive ways, accentuating differences, and spurring a variety of social movements seeking protection from the disruptive and polarizing effects of economic liberalism. 1 One of the central paradoxes of globalisation is that it implies the collective abandonment of many divergent modes of social and economic organisation in favour of a single ideal de® ned by global prerogatives; or, perhaps more aptly, Western prerogatives. Recent ® nancial crises in emerging markets, particularly those situated in Southeast Asia, suggest that this process is supported by more than the moral legitimacy of the `Western way’ ; in the realm of ® nance, there are severe structural disincentives to operating outside the logic of `global economic ef® ciency’ . In a global ® nancial context characterised by heightened capital mobility, short-term pro® t incentive and the dominance of huge institutional investors, even modest shifts in investor sentiment are capable of triggering capital ̄ ight and undermining the economic viability of entire regions. The Darryl Crawford is at the United Nations Development Programme, UN House, 351 Schoeman St., PO Box 6541, Pretoria 0001, Republic of South Africa. The views expressed are his own. ISSN 0143-6597 Print; 1360-2241 Online/00/010069-18 Ó 2000 Third World Quarterly 69

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@inproceedings{Crawford2003ChineseCC, title={Chinese capitalism: cultures, the Southeast Asian region and economic globalisation}, author={Darryl H Crawford}, year={2003} }