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Last year the Advisory Council on Asia (ACA) was asked by Lieutenant Governor Leo McCarthy to conduct a fact-finding mission to Asia. We believed, as he did, that the pace of economic and political developments in the region was reshaping Asia so quickly and so profoundly that the attention was warranted. As members of California's Asian community and business people involved with Pacific Rim commerce, we believed we could make a major contribution in assessing these developments and their importance to California.

We had not anticipated, however, that our mission would provide the impetus for a series of reports documenting fundamental changes in the economies of the region, or that this work would be far more extensive than originally envisioned. We have also had to rethink some of our conclusions regarding the economic future of the region in light of the tumultuous events in China.

The scope of this work was also expanded in another way. We recognized the need to make it as much a policy guide for government officials as a working document for those involved in Asian commerce.

For its first report the ACA focuses its attention on two of the so-called "four tigers" of Asia -- Hong Kong and Taiwan. Although they have much in common, including history and culture, they are nonetheless two very distinct economic and political entities at different junctures in their development.

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