With the growth of competition between nations in our knowledge-based world economy, excellence programs are becoming a national agenda item in developing as well as developed Asian countries. The main purpose of this paper is to compare the goals, funding policies and selection criteria of excellence programs in China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan and to analyze the academic achievement of their top ranked universities in three areas: research output, internationalization, and excellence, by using data from the Shanghai Jiao Tong, QS, and HEEACT rankings. The effectiveness of Taiwan's “Development Plan for World Class Universities and Research Centers of Excellence” was assessed as a case study in the paper via a survey targeting on 138 top administrators from 11 Taiwan's universities and 30 reviewers. The study found that more funding nations had, the more outputs and outcomes they would gain, for example China. The Taiwan case demonstrates that world-class universities and research centers are needed in Asian nations despite the concerns for inequality which they raise.