My wife was an elementary school teacher in Taiwan. Chinese students who intended to study in the sciences are expected to *know* formula off the top of their heads. They aren't expected to *memorize* the formula. I'm willing to bet that if you ask most Chinese science students how to derive the formula, they can.
The way that math is taught in East Asia requires a negligible amount of memorization. Students in the US have problems with math because they are taught memorization and not understanding.
Exactly. And if you have lots of trouble, then you go to a "bushi-ban." Being more "intuitive" doesn't mean "easier." What really annoys me about American math is that people see (correctly) that East Asian students work very hard at math, and so assuming that you can get the US system to work by just spending more effort on a system that don't work.
Also there is a huge investment in good math teachers.