Impact of Resources on the Movement of Products, Capital & People in East Asia

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  • 0:00 How Do Natural…
  • 0:55 Resources of East Asia
  • 3:40 Movement in East Asia
  • 5:35 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: David Wood

David has taught Honors Physics, AP Physics, IB Physics and general science courses. He has a Masters in Education, and a Bachelors in Physics.

After watching this video, you will be able to describe the natural resources of East Asia and how they cause people, products, and capital to move. A short quiz will follow.

How Do Natural Resources Lead to Movement?

Today we're going to look at the natural resources of East Asia and how they cause people, products and capital to move. China, North Korea, South Korea, and Japan are all part of East Asia. And those countries all contain natural resources. Natural resources are materials provided by the Earth itself that can be exploited by humans. This isn't just things like oil, silver, and gold. It also includes fertile land for farming and natural beauty for tourism - anything that's a natural part of the land.

What movement results from these natural resources? Well, where there are resources, products can be made. Sometimes those resources are exported in their raw form, and sometimes they're manufactured into products and those products are exported.

Where resources and products move, so does capital. When people buy products from abroad, capital is transferred from country to country. Where products move, capital moves in the opposite direction. But there's also investment from outside each country.

Resources of East Asia

Let's look at the resources of each country of East Asia in turn.

China is an enormous country. Only the United States, Canada, and Russia are bigger by land area. So, it probably isn't surprising that it also has some incredible natural resources. And what's more, it has the largest population in the world, ready to take advantage of those resources. China's land itself is a natural resource, though maybe not as much as you would think. Per person, there isn't that much land, after all, and much of the land is mountainous and not as useful. The amount of farmland is surprisingly little considering how large the country is.

However, China does have plenty of other resources: it has 175 million hectares of forest, lots of water with more rivers and lakes than most places in the world, beautiful natural scenery and wildlife that can be used to promote tourism, as well as a ton of oil, natural gas, coal, uranium, and other metals. Coal is probably the most significant natural resource that China has, and the country has been exploiting it to its fullest in recent years. China also has the world's largest hydroelectric power potential.

Japan is rather like the polar opposite of China when it comes to natural resources: they hardly have any. This is particularly true of fossil fuels like oil, coal, and natural gas. One thing Japan does have, however, is hydroelectric potential. Japan doesn't even have many metals - what copper, iron, and lead it once had has been mostly used up.

Where Japan does have resources, like forests and fish, demand in the country is high, and there isn't quite enough to drive strong exports. Japan does also have highly fertile land and produces large amounts of agricultural products per acre. Japan is more about non-natural resources, though: electronics, high-skilled work, and professional services.

South Korea is similarly sparse in resources, though they have some of the largest graphite and tungsten supplies in the world. The land is highly fertile, but this natural resource is not being used to its potential, since few people these days want to go into farming. Instead, heavy and high-tech industry, along with services, are most important to the economy.

North Korea has natural resources like marble, granite, coal, iron ore, gold, and rare earths. Some believe that North Korea may have as much as two-thirds of the world's supply of rare earths. However, it's hard for them to use those resources, since sanctions against their oppressive regime prevent them from exporting to most countries, and they lack the infrastructure needed to fully take advantage of them.

Movement in East Asia

There are huge movements of products out of China, thanks mostly to their natural resources and the things they manufacture with them. China is the biggest exporter of merchandise by dollar value in the whole world. The entire European Union combined doesn't even beat them. This is a huge movement of products. And the profits from those exports allow them to import more high-tech and advanced products from elsewhere.

China is a booming economy, driven by its exports of natural resources and their products, and this makes people want to invest capital in the country and start businesses there. This transfer of capital is huge and significant. And where businesses are set up, and move from place to place, so do people. People move to start those businesses, seeing great opportunities to make money. And people move to work for those businesses.

Japan might not have natural resources to export, but natural resources still have a huge effect on the movement of products - because if they don't have the resources themselves, those resources have to be imported. Japan is a highly developed country, and so its people demand all kinds of things that have to be brought into the country. The same is true of South Korea.

Japan and South Korea also have a lot of capital moving into their countries, though in their case, it's less about natural resources and more about high-tech industry and services. But capital also leaves those countries so that they can import all the resources they lack.

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