As China Goes, So Goes the World: How Chinese Consumers Are Transforming Everything


The austere China Gerth experienced as a 1980s student contrasts with the economically charging country he teaches today as a professor in Britain. Interested in consumerism, Gerth delves into the effects individuals’ purchasing preferences are producing on China; the domestic and international political impact of Chinese growth is not addressed—for that, see The Beijing Consensus, by Stefan Halper (2010). To initiate his observations, Gerth typically seizes on something that didn’t exist in his student days: for example, beauty salons, private automobiles, or disposable chopsticks. Businesses and entire industries that have arisen to meet consumers’ desire for such products and services generate Gerth’s discourse, which he researched from Chinese media and discussion with his contacts. Mao’s China recedes to distant memory in the resulting depiction of capitalistic construction, ubiquitous advertising, and status-conscious shopping. Certain consequences of Chinese consumerism do not escape Gerth’s acuity: he spots social resentments, piracy of intellectual property, pollution, and “extreme markets” (trade in sex, human organs, and adoptions) as problems. Describing the present, Gerth will sensitize business or tourist travelers to Chinese markets. –Gilbert Taylor