Paths to Development in Asia

South Korea, Vietnam, China, and Indonesia

Paths to Development in Asia

Why have some states in the developing world been more successful at facilitating industrialization than others? Challenging theories that privilege industrial policy and colonial legacies, this book focuses on state structure and the politics of state formation, arguing that a cohesive state structure is as important to developmental success as effective industrial policy. Based on a comparison of six Asian cases, including both capitalist and socialist states with varying structural cohesion, Tuong Vu proves that it is state formation politics rather than colonial legacies that have had decisive and lasting impacts on the structures of emerging states. His cross-national comparison of South Korea, Vietnam, Republican and Maoist China, and Sukarno’s and Suharto’s Indonesia, which is augmented by in-depth analyses of state formation processes in Vietnam and Indonesia, is an important contribution to understanding the dynamics of state formation and economic development in Asia.


“Here is a big-picture yet detailed analysis of Asian politics by a leading scholar in the field. Through nuanced comparisons of China, Indonesia, South Korea, and Vietnam, Tuong Vu makes a provocative, deeply researched, and well written argument about why and how developmental states emerge in some countries but not others.”
Benedict J. Tria Kerkvliet, The Australian National University

Paths to Development in Asia is an important and original contribution to Asian politics, comparative politics and political economy. Professor Vu adds a new and appropriate dimension to the origins of the Asian developmental state by addressing the elite/mass relationship and revaluating the weight of the colonial rule. By going beyond Japan, Korean and Taiwan his analysis takes on added value for a broader comparative approach to East Asia. The book will undoubtedly rekindle debates on the developmental state.”
Yong-Chool Ha, University of Washington

“Vu develops an intriguing two-level theory linking patterns of elite alignment and those of elite-mass engagement to demonstrate that the historical circumstances of state formation determined the cohesiveness of state structures and potentials for developmental policies in East and Southeast Asia. His exemplary use of the comparative method in chapters on Korea, Indonesia, China and Vietnam applies the theory to empirical cases from the 1940s to 1960 that often are overlooked in the developmental literature. The detailed case study comparisons of Indonesia and Vietnam in particular are noteworthy, for Vu has few peers in his familiarity with vernacular sources and in the sophistication of his analyses of organization and discourse during state formation from the 1910s through the 1960s in these two important Southeast Asian countries.”
Alasdair Bowie, George Washington University

“Vu’s Paths to Development in Asia is a well-researched, quality piece of research dedicated to state formation of developing countries in Asia, which illuminates the current study of comparative developing states as well as Asian studies.”
Diqing Lou, Rider University, Journal of Chinese Political Science

"… the main strength of Paths to Development in Asia is its careful attention to how political organization and political discourse operated in the decade-and-a-half after the Second World War in Vietnam and Indonesia. In doing so, Vu demonstrates convincingly how accommodation, mass incorporation and elite compromise impeded the creation of effective developmental sates in these two countries."
South East Asia Research

"Paths to Development in Asia stands out for its attention to history and belief in its importance; for incorporating socialist states into the concept of developmental states, a valuable move; and for its depressing lessons - above all that successful developmental states are born in bloodbaths. It makes clear the contingency of democracy and the importance of a comparative historical approach."
Scott L. Greer, Democratization


Honorable Mention, 2011 Bernard Schwartz Book Award, the Asia Society