Monday, September 3, 2012

As China goes, so goes the world: How Chinese consumers are transforming everything

As China goes, so goes the world: How Chinese consumers are transforming everything
By Karl Gerth

Book review by Richard L. Weaver II

The author teaches modern Chinese history at Oxford University and has written one previous book on China.  The 205-pages of text of the book As China Goes . . . is followed by 29 pages of notes, three pages of further readings, and a complete index.  The notes section is thorough, comprehensive, and extremely competent.

The book is not only well-written, it is well-researched, too.

Having recently visited both Shanghai and Beijing, I was interested in the author’s perspective of China, and that is why I sought out this book.

His eight chapter titles reveal, in part, what this book is about: 1) No Going Back?  2) Who Gets What?  3) Made in Taiwan.  4) Standardizing Abundance.  5) Branding Consumer Consciousness.  6) Living in a World of Fakes.  7) Extreme Markets.  8) Environmental Implications.

I thought the continuing contrast between the past and the present throughout the book was interesting and stark.  Having been there recently, I was able to witness the characteristics Gerth offered about present-day China.  Having lived and worked in Dacca, East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) for nine months, it is not difficult to visualize the China Gerth knew when he went to school there, and the China with which he contrasted the present.

This is a well-written, well-researched, well-organized, and well-presented narrative that offers an accurate picture of China both then and now.  Gerth’s examples—whether personal, from contacts, or from his research—are interesting, useful, and certainly help advance his narrative.

I found this information both accurate and informative: “If global consumers are concerned about the safety of such Chinese imports as toys, paint, and drywall, imagine what it’s like to be a consumer in China, where the authenticity and quality of everything in your life is suspect: the food you eat, the water you drink, the pills you put in your body, the building you live in, the computer you use, the airplane you fly in—right down to the ‘Mont Blanc’ pen you may use, say, to write a book manuscript.  The uncertainty created by Chinese counterfeits is making sonsumer life in China unpredictable . . .” (P. 155).

This quotation reveals Gerth’s writing style, the accuracy of his observations, and the kind of information he has for readers.  This is a wonderful book, full of excellent, insightful information.  Whether you are planning a China trip, have been to China in the past, or if you have an interest in the development of the Chinese economy.  It isn’t just the development of the Chinese economy either, it is the reciprocal influence between China and the United States.  In his conclusion’s final paragraph, Gerth says, “. . . what happens in China is also deeply influenced by the actions of other countries, particularly the United States, and a similar case could be made that as the American consumer goes, so goes the Chinese consumer and the world. . . .(p. 205).”

No comments:

Post a Comment

Essays, SMOERs Words-of-Wisdom, Fridays Laugh, book reviews... And Then Some! Thank you for your comment.