The financial crisis remains on everyone’s minds in East Asia, including its political elite. From the micro to the macro political events, the financial crisis has become a hot political issue in the region.
For example, in the micro sense, Malaysian candidate for the vice presidency of ruling party UMNO Muhyiddin Yassin lists economic recovery as one of the most important agenda for his campaign.
In the Philippines, worries are on how, for the first time since the early 1990s, Private consumption expenditures (PCE) actually fell between the first and second quarters of 2008. More importantly, there is a pervasive fear that the might result in many overseas Filipinos losing their jobs and remittances back to the Philippines might be severely reduced as a result.
On a much bigger scale, leaders of South Korea, China and Japan will hold a summit in Fukuoka in December 2008 for discussions on the global financial crisis. This is one positive spinoff from South Korea, China and Japan meeting annually on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Plus Three summit.
Overall the feeling in East Asia is ambivalent. Some may have a sense of triumphant-lism. That is particularly so since much of the money that will have to be borrowed by the West who are the very people that had admonished Asian governments a decade ago.
But, East Asia as a whole cannot escape this crisis. US falling demand and the closely-knitted relationship with American institutions will surely worry a large number of Asians.
China is much touted as a possible engine of growth in the wake of the US downturn. But China's top priority is simply protecting its own economy and tackling unemployment which is a growing concern as factories are closing down. East Asia may have to work closely with their counterparts in the West to rescue the world from the current crisis. No time to gloat.
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