Comparison of the Development of High-Tech Industry in Hong Kong and Singapore

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GPAD 2135 Political Economy of East Asia
Final Paper

Comparison on the development of high-tech industry in Hong Kong and Singapore

Hong Kong and Singapore are two metropolises that sharing uncountable similarities on many aspects. Both are small and densely populous city-stated located in East Asia, having similar development path and history, lacking natural resources, being praised as one of the Asian Tigers and the freest economies in the world, sharing similar advantages on several fields. Because of the combination of broad similarity, Hong Kong and Singapore are often compared with each other and are generally regarded as a pair of rival.

The modern history of Singapore started with the establishment of the British port on the island by Stamford Raffles in 1819. It rapidly became an important port in Southeast Asia benefited from its strategic location in the southern tip of Malaysia peninsula, the middle point of India-China route and the central of Southeast Asian Islands. The British Colony era ended in Singapore’s short merger with Malaysia which soon ended in the separation from Malaysia two years later due to the disagreement between Singapore’s ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) and Malaysia’s Alliance Party. Singapore became an independent republic on 9 August 1965. The road beyond independence was full of difficulties and obstacles, including the dangers of being attacked by the surrounding countries, shortage of natural resources and land. Singapore government started the long-term planning of economic development focusing on modernization and industrialization and soon become one of the Asian Tigers economies and one of the most developed nations on the world. (Fund 2006)

Hong Kong was colonized by the British Empire in 19th century as a result of the British victories in the Anglo-Chinese Wars. Under British’s colonization, Hong Kong was transformed from a little undeveloped village to a major entrepot for global trade, especially the trade between China and the West. The early development of Hong Kong was highly dependent to the exogenous factors. After 1949, the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, the entrepot trade in Hong Kong faced a critical strike due to the poor relationship between China and the West. Hong Kong then transformed to a territory of industry and manufacturing and enjoyed unprecedented growth in the 1950s. However, the newly risen manufacturing industry shortly faced a declination in impact in Hong Kong’s economy, replaced with the greater reliance on service sector, noteworthily the fast development of finance industry. After the transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong in 1997, Hong Kong remained the similar position and developmental strategy before 1997 and no significant differences seen in economic aspect.

Sharing the similar developmental experience of being an entrepot, being industrialized, and gaining greater reliance on service sector, the future evolution and competition of the two cities are considerable. Like many other developed countries in all around the world, high-tech industry became a major development goal in both city-states: both Hong Kong and Singapore government claimed developing high-tech industries as a target to achieve. Hong Kong’s concern for development of high-tech industries began in late 90s, after the Handover, whilst Singapore started slightly earlier at about 80s. High-tech industry is a newly developed concept that no single measurement for identifying high technology industries is widely preferred and accepted, although it is typically recognized by its great dependence on science and technology innovation. High-tech industry is difficult to be included in the traditional industry classification, since high-tech industry is a mixture of second and tertiary industries but inappropriate to regard it as second or tertiary industries because it includes both goods and service-producing industries and the significant...
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