Government Policy in East Asia’s Digital Economy (Video Interview with Dr. Ken Coates) (Part 2/2)

Memo #130 (Scroll below to see 3 Video Clips)

By Ken Coates – kennethcoates [at]

Government policies have played a crucial role in the development of the digital economy in East Asia.

Japan’s investments in the sector go back to the 1960s and 1970s, with many of the early efforts laying the foundation for the subsequent success of Sony, Panasonic, and Toshiba. Taiwan’s formidable “triple-helix” of government, business, and universities bore fruit in the emergence of the impressive “Taiwan Inside” effort to expand computer manufacturing. Korea’s government invested heavily in digital infrastructure, making the country the most wired in the world. China’s extensive innovation investments in everything from computer hardware to a network of animation studios have produced a great deal of research and commercial activity in the sector.

If the late 20th century belonged to “tool makers,” the 21st century will belong to “tool users.” East Asian governments and businesses have struggled with the transition from the manufacturing to the content sectors. The open-ended, creative, and small-scale nature of the latter proved difficult to fit into government national innovation strategies. The challenge in the coming years will be for East Asia to replicate the success of digital manufacturing in the content area.

North Americans are actively connected to the digital products from East Asia but are largely oblivious to the region’s rapidly growing digital content economy. The continued evolution of the digital economy in East Asia has significant implications for consumers and producers, providing both expansive markets and formidable competition.

Part 1 – Digital media’s coolest innovations in East Asia (2:02 min)

Part 2 – Government policy in East Asia’s digital economy (2:26 min)

Part 3 – Canada’s challenge in digital Asia (2:06 min)

Ken Coates – Professor of History and Dean, Faculty of Arts, University of Waterloo.

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Asia Pacific Memo is published by the Institute of Asian Research (IAR) at The University of British Columbia. Distributed weekly, we feature 350 word essays or video interviews on contemporary Asia.