Jeremy Craig, 404-413-1357
ATLANTA — Karl Gerth, a renowned historian of modern Chinese history at Oxford University, will speak Jan. 13, 2011 on the transformation of the Chinese consumer as the country grows in size and impact on the global stage.
The conversation between Gerth and GSU President Mark Becker will be held at 3 p.m. in the Speakers Auditorium of the university’s Student Center located at Courtland and Gilmer streets. The event is free and open to the public.
Gerth is the author of a new book, “As China Goes, So Goes the World: How Chinese Consumers are Transforming Everything.” In it, he explores the ongoing transformation of the Chinese society and economy from one geared toward production and export to a consumer-driven economy and society like the United States.
“The Chinese economy is extremely important, and becoming even more so every day,” Gerth said. “China just passed Japan as the world’s second largest economy and is expected to pass the U.S. as early as 2030.
“So, Chinese consumers, who are just beginning to have lives like those in the U.S., are critical to further expansion of both the Chinese economy and the global economy,” he said.
The changes in Chinese consumers’ lifestyles are quite rapid due to the breakneck pace of the Chinese economy.
“Five years ago, when I began to research this book, I started a list of Number One’s for the Chinese consumer, such as ‘largest consumer of mobile phones, beer, beef, cars, etcetera,” Gerth said. “It grew so long, so quickly, that I abandoned it.”
There are both significant global economic consequences as well as environmental impacts as a result of the changes, as political and business leaders around the world look to the Chinese consumer to replace Americans as the drivers of global economic development, he said.
“Nobody should begrudge the Chinese their opportunity to drink Cokes or enjoy any of the other pleasures non-Chinese consumers have,” Gerth explained. “But we all need to contemplate the collective impact of these seemingly minor changes in Chinese lifestyles.
“And if these issues aren’t reconciled for China, can we expect India, Indonesia and other developing consumer markets to be any different?” he asked.
Gerth said he hopes audiences gain a better way to understand the rise of China, giving a way for attendees (as well as readers of the book) to comprehend the bigger picture beyond daily news reports.
“Understanding these underlying drivers contextualizes much of the day-to-day news stories coming out of China, on subjects as diverse as currency exchange rates, carbon emissions, military expenditures, or speculation over who’ll succeed President Hu Jintao in 2010,” he said.
Co-sponsors of the event include the GSU Confucius Institute, the Asian Studies Center, and the World Affairs Council. For more about Gerth and his new book, visit www.aschinagoes.com.
Published Dec. 16, 2010