„Asia in Infographics“ is an ongoing initiative of Bertelsmann Stiftung’s project “Germany and Asia”. Every week, we will publish a new visualisation of political, economic, social or cultural trends in the Asia-Pacific region.
All over the world, democracies are under pressure. In Asia, the situation is particularly bleak. Within all parameters – be it level of press freedom, political rights and civil liberties or the rule of law – there are very few bright spots. Most of the region can be found at the bottom of the rankings.
Similar to the situation in Europe, authoritarian populists are on the rise in Asia. Like President Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, they are striving to turn their countries into illiberal states. Aside from these populist neophytes, there are several countries where political dynasties have held the reins of power for years or even decades.
Asia has experienced some of the highest growth rates in the world in the last decades and, for the first time in history, it is home to the highest number of dollar billionaires in the world. China leads the pack, even outnumbering the United States.
The startup industry is booming in Asia. The region is now home to more unicorns than anywhere else in the world, except for the United States. As of spring 2018, of the 238 companies currently on the list of unicorns, 86 are Asian. Most deal in e-commerce, fintech and on-demand transportation.
Besides trade, investments are the most commonly used statistic to describe economic relationships between countries. Investments in crucial sectors or prominent companies often spark public and political debate. Lately, Chinese investments have received particular scrutiny. It therefore makes sense to put investment flows into perspective.
Asia features some of the most successful education systems in the world – but also some of the least developed. The differences can be seen in statistics such as expected years of schooling, literacy rates and enrollment in tertiary education.
How well connected is Asia and how ready is it to go digital? A big part of the growth in new unique mobile subscribers is expected to be driven by Asian nations, especially India, China, Pakistan, Indonesia and Bangladesh. But overall, Asia also has more ground to cover compared to Europe and North America as the region is lagging behind in terms of connectivity, both in terms of mobile-phone and Internet penetration.
"You have hurt the Chinese people’s feelings" has become a standard accusation employed by China’s diplomats. It is used against foreign governments, individuals, organizations, companies and anyone else who has made themselves seemingly guilty of insensitive behavior towards the Chinese populace. The phrase has become a powerful tool used by the Chinese government to force foreign entities to submit to Beijing’s ideological line.
The raw materials used in smartphones come from all over the globe. But the hundreds of components that make up the phones are mostly manufactured in Asia where the finished products are also mostly assembled
Asia is home to half of the planet’s population. But what do Asian people think of one another? The Pew Research Center’s 2017 Global Attitudes Survey shows that Asians have strong views, especially towards China, the region’s leading power.
For decades, the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been dominated by the US. However, the picture is changing and China is determined to take over the top spot. China has already overtaken the US in the funding of AI start-ups: In 2017, China accounted for 48 percent of the world’s total AI start-up funding, compared to 38 percent for the US. Various other metrics also show that China’s government is working hard to win the race
The government in Beijing has laid out a plan for China to become the world leader in Artificial Intelligence by 2030. It sees AI as a new and important driver of economic expansion and also as an area of intense international competition. Globally, AI is forecast to boost global economic output by a further 14 percent by 2030
The modern political history of most Asian nations is shaped by revolts – both violent and peaceful – against oppression and colonization. Many of these independence fighters, nation builders and revolutionaries are still celebrated as heroes and, in some cases, demigods. Their words speak of war, strife, pride and nationalism.
China’s three tech giants Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent are collectively known as BAT. They have driven the country’s digital economy forward and created a multifaceted digital ecosystem that touches every aspect of consumers’ lives, serving close to one billion active users monthly. Although they are private companies, they are under strict government control.
There is no clear pattern for which European countries Asian students choose when studying abroad. While the United Kingdom, France and Germany usually share the top spots, there are some surprises among the runners-up. Spain might be popular among tourists from all over the world, but it is not a destination of choice for students from Asia, and often less desirable than countries like Finland or the Czech Republic.
Rapid economic growth in many parts of Asia in recent decades has greatly amplified wealth, increased GDP per capita and reduced poverty. But the growth has also been accompanied by growing – and in some cases severe –income gaps in many countries.
European countries may have lower or no tuition fees, yet Chinese students choose the United States and Australia as their preferred places to study. Still, Chinese students take the top spot among foreign students in many European countries. The vast majority return home after graduating.
The giant panda is arguably one of the world’s cutest animals. As the trademark of the World Wildlife Fund, it has become a symbol for endangered species, and the “Kungfu Panda” series has made the animals a pop culture phenomenon. By sending animals to foreign zoos, China has made the panda its heart-winning ambassador.
The raw materials used in smartphones come from all over the globe. But the hundreds of components that make up the phones are mostly manufactured in Asia where the finished products are also mostly assembled.
Standards of living vary greatly among Asian countries. This is reflected in the vastly different working time needed to afford everyday products. An average employee in India would need to work almost a year to buy a single top-notch smartphone. A worker in Singapore can afford more than 30 smartphones in the same amount of time.
Soccer, basketball and baseball are among the most popular – and certainly most watched – sports all across Asia. Yet apart from these global team sports, many people also engage in various national sports (official or unofficial), often in the field of martial arts.
In 2015, the Chinese government presented Made in China 2025, one of its main development policies which aims to make the country a “manufacturing superpower” within the next few decades. It is part of the Chinese Communist Party’s goal of modernizing China and turning it into a fully developed nation by 2049, the 100th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic.
What do blue LEDs, a therapy against Malaria and conductive polymers have in common? All of them were found or invented by Asian Nobel laureates. To this date, more than 50 Asians have been honored with a Nobel Prize, roughly half of them from Japan. The high number of Nobel Peace Prizes reflects Asia’s turbulent recent history.
Within the last decade, the parity between men and women has basically improved across Asia. Nevertheless, compared to other parts of the world, many Asian countries still score poorly, according to the Global Gender Gap ranking compiled by the World Economic Forum. The best parity is achieved in the Philippines, while two of the regions wealthiest nations, Japan and South Korea, rank at the lower end of the scale.
Overall, when it comes to equality between the sexes, things are moving in the right direction. However, they are moving at a very slow pace – in some regions at a glacial pace, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report.