What Does China Want?

25 Jun 2005|LiAnne Yu

China is once again on the cover of Time. I’m happy to see the coverage, but I’m concerned about the media’s obsession with the so-called U.S.-China “competition.” Articles focus on questions like “What does China want?” as though the country were a petulant child or indecipherable woman.

Why are the consumer longings of the Chinese always cast in a suspicious tone? For some reason, the media seems to need to portray Chinese consumerism as a political practice with the goal of toppling the U.S. That’s not only inaccurate, it’s inflamatory and completely undervalues the immense opportunity that China represents to the U.S.

China is in the midst of one of history’s most dramatic consumer revolutions. Its people have emerged from decades of global isolation, restrictions on personal expression, and lack of consumer choice to power the world’s fastest growing economy.

From affluent urban youths to mobile professionals to the rural elite, consumers are seeking products and services that reflect what it means to be modern in China.

We have the opportunity to do more than just localize products and brands for China. We have the chance to innovate for a market that is growing at an unprecedented rate and increasingly demanding that the things that they buy satisfy emotional, intellectual, and social needs. We can choose to fear China or benefit from it. At Cheskin, we’ve already made our decision.

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