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Asian values is an umbrella term used to describe a viewpoint of people from the Asian demographic, specifically from Northeast and Southeast Asia. The definition is diverse, which means it cannot easily be defined with the addition of ethnicity and region but there are commonly shared views on what is considered important.
The term was globally applied by 1990 by Singapore's prime minister Lee Kuan Yew who suggested that Singapore has its own set of values native to their country and people, hence its national needs and planning are based on this. It is an idea based on "Asianism" which is largely influenced by Eastern values such as social conservatism, traditionalism, meritocratic elitism and Confucian-style family values. This view has been supported by other Asian countries, including Japan especially under Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).
Asian values are not usually thought to be compatible with Western liberal democracy or individualism. Asian values favors collectivism, strong leadership and an organized society to address its needs, the positions of power through their own democratic processes. The idea is based on the idea of societal governance and principles, without forcefully adopting Western values or assuming Westernization as mandated in neoliberalism.
The idea of Asian values has been criticized by leftists within Asia and by some human rights groups in the West, accusing the ideology as inherently authoritarian and promotes classism and discrimination against minorities. Critics point out that the region still has issues surrounding gender based discrimination, homophobia, transphobia, and strict attitudes[note 1] toward children[note 2]. Moreover, appeals to Asian values in political discussion tend to be about as useful or specific as appeals to freedom or liberty in the west - a concept nebulous enough to support pretty much whatever policy you need it to.
Because of Asian values, while the Southeast/Northeast Asian region is as economically rich as the Western world, with some even more so, it has a much more conservative, semi-authoritarian attitude, and a deferential social culture than the West. This could explain why many Western conservatives or alt-rightists who are against political correctness and multiculturalism often praise Southeast/Northeast Asian societies, who seek to emulate it back in the West.
Asian values-oriented figures
- Shinzo Abe
- Rodrigo Duterte
- Hong Jun-pyo — South Korean neoconservative populist
- Hun Sen — Prime minister of Cambodia
- Hwang Kyo-ahn — South Korean paleoconservative populist
- Lee Kuan Yew
- Lee Hsien Loong
- Mahathir Mohamad — Former prime minister of Malaysia
- Prayut Chan-o-cha — Prime Minister of Thailand
- Xi Jinping
- Nguyễn Phú Trọng — de facto top leader of Vietnam
- In China this would be called 'Tiger parenting', although actual fullblown child abuse happens as well, see references next.
- Note that whilst these issues are prevalent in China, it is not clear whether it is exceptional in that regard to other countries, which makes the idea that Asian values on parenting differs in a meaningful aspect from western countries a claim that needs more research.