Indeed, the world is abuzz about China's structural reforms while virtually ignoring that similar changes are being implemented in South Korea. Both countries are trying to tame the large conglomerates and to reduce their domination of national economy.
These changes will take time because of their difficult systemic nature and their broad impact on the organization of labor and product markets.
In South Korea, the "chaebols" will continue to be the mainstay of the country's economy for the foreseeable future. But a strong government initiative is afoot to stimulate the creation of small- and medium-sized companies. Seoul expects that these nimble competitors will spearhead technological innovation and efficiency gains to raise the potential growth rate of the "knowledge economy" to 4 percent.
Some investment strategists think that this is an "exciting" policy move.
(Read more: China's NPC: Here's what to watch for)
I agree, and I also think that President Park's vigorous support for thawing relations with North Korea offers equally promising political and economic prospects. During the cabinet meeting last Tuesday, she announced the formation of a special committee in her office that will work on "systematic and constructive" steps toward the Korean unification. And then she followed that up yesterday by calling on the North to continue with more frequent family reunions.
Peace and comity
Whether this new "sunshine policy" will work remains to be seen, but Seoul's conciliatory policy gestures, Pyongyang's invitation to "stop insulting each other" and the resumption of family visits are a welcome diversion from hostile military drills and North's short-range missile launches.
Financial markets need a similar diversion from their obsessive doubts about China's growth outlook. Luckily, the wagers there are much less serious because most of the growth bets are contained in the narrow range of 7-7.5 percent. In view of that, it seems puzzling that good numbers on economic activity and Beijing's credible policy reassurances are readily dismissed by China "experts" as flukes and wishful thinking.
Doubts may well be the beginning of wisdom, but I would not push that too far. China's 7 percent growth is not in doubt. I do agree, however, that the country's huge challenges of economic reform are a sobering thought. Here are some of the problems Beijing is wrestling with: (a) forcing state-owned enterprises to behave like competitive firms in a market economy, (b) a fundamental reform of the financial system and (c) the yuan's convertibility.
(Read more: South Korea's growth figures show recovery intact)
That is all part of China's gradual transition toward an actively managed social market economy. To me, all that looks like a leaf taken from some European social democracies.
Surely, this is a tough reform agenda. But China has successfully done more difficult things in the recent past, and there is no need for what the Prime Minister Li Keqiang called "wrist slashing" pains. Managed properly, all these reforms can be conducted under conditions of sustained economic activity. That is possible because China's enormous savings can finance a high level of output and employment as the country continues to build infrastructure, social welfare, education and a cleaner environment.
It is, therefore, a reasonably safe conclusion that strong growth dynamics driving these three Asian economies should raise no particular concern in investors' minds. Unfortunately, investors have every reason to worry about peace and comity in that part of the world.
The intractable Sino-Japanese military standoff in the East and South China Seas, unrelenting belligerence about painful history of aggression and colonization, and ostensible commemorations of war and hideous war crimes are not the road to conciliation and broadening economic ties.
Maybe that wise lady in Seoul can show the way.
Michael Ivanovitch is president of MSI Global, a New York-based economic research company. He also served as a senior economist at the OECD in Paris, international economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and taught economics at Columbia.
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