We are not all racing to learn Mandarin yet, but most, if not all, working-age adults in the Western world and many developing nations know enough to keep an eye on news about and from China. For executives in all industry segments, China is the elephant in the room. It must be factored into any decisions about the future of their enterprise.
If any segment of the global economy can afford to ignore China's gargantuan role, it's not electronics. Over the last two decades, the industry has steadily and tightly yoked itself to the Asian nation. After transferring a majority of manufacturing operations and huge swathes of the supply chain to China, the industry faces the stark reality that it can no more do without China than the country itself could disengage from world markets and revert to a closed socialist economy.
Events in China will have a major impact on all the global economic segments that have become heavily dependent on the nation. This is obviously the case for the electronics industry. Most of its leading companies, if not all, have huge operations in China and are exposed to events there. Furthermore, the entire industry supply chain (not just the manufacturing end, as is commonly assumed) has significant exposure in China. As China goes, so does the industry.
In the last five years alone, China has set numerous records in high-tech marketshare. It has become the world's biggest consumer of semiconductor products, mobile phones, PCs, flat-screen TVs, solar panels, and a wide range of so-called white goods, including refrigerators and cooking ranges. By the way, it is just getting warmed up. As its middle class expands over the next decade (barring any geopolitical disruptions), China will overtake the Western world and become the leading market for medical devices and a range of other goods. Its aging population guarantees this.
I'm surprised at something huge being left off the list - admittedly a political hot button, but still very important.
As a result of China's population control efforts, they now have a generation with a large dearth of women. What will the impact of this be? Right now the imbalance is around 20 million and rising. Combine that with a population that is expected to rapidly age and shrink over the coming decades...
The Chinese era of economic dominance may be rather short.
Economic interdependence isn't a bad thing, provided it truly is two way. We hear plenty of talk of our over-dependance on China and the economic vulnerabilities that come with that. I don't hear so much about, as you wrote: " it can no more do without China than the country itself could disengage from world markets and revert to a closed socialist economy."
The more interdependent we all are, the smaller and safer the world is. There is a lot of fear of China (both economically and militarily) in the US. How much is truly justified, I don't know, but the fact is it's there.
If we need them and they need us, and we all understand that we both need each other, the level of fear can drop and we cal all spend more time focused on building cool stuff.
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