Over the last couple of months I have read about half a dozen of the so called “China Business Books”. Yesterday, before I sat down to start writing my reviews and opinions on each of these books, I decided to checkout what was going on on my Facebook and came across an ad for yet another “Understand China” Book.
What called my attention about this one was the fact that it was being highly recommended by KLM’s Flying Blue China Club and the authors claimed that the their book could be read in just under 90 minutes. 90 minutes?? How the hell can someone ever hope to understand China in 90 minutes?? Although it did initially sound like a scam, I noticed that the authors were very well established China-to-West experts. I am sure they did not spend the last years building the solid reputation by pitching something they could not deliver. So what the hell…I headed over to Amazon.com armed with a credit card and got myself the $5 eBook version.
I gave the book a read before going to bed last night and here is what I got out of it:
If you are interested in knowing how the Chinese economy will influence your business, authors Jonathan Woetzel and Jeffrey Towson have definitely managed to offer the quickest answer imaginable. The-One-Hour-China-Book is a very easy read for everyone – whether an expert or not. It gave me most of what I wanted (needed?) to know about China business today – and its increasing impact on the rest of the world.
Now, the authors claimed that the book can be read in an hour…well… it took me about 2 hours. I don’t know if its just me, but every time I read a page of anything on China I always need a few minutes in between just to let all the information sink in. I admit I have trouble picturing things like 1 billion people moving into cities or 75 billion tons of sewage being produced or even 2,800 dead pigs floating in a river. To my defense, it was already after 23h when I began reading, so my imagination was also not exactly at it’s best.
Prior to purchasing the book, I did some background research on the authros. Woetzel and Towson are both professors at Peking University’s Guanghua School of Management in Beijing. Woetzel is also a director of McKinsey & Company in Shanghai. Jeffrey Towson is a private equity investor as well as a best-selling author. In The-One-Hour-China-Book both Woetzel and Towson have joined forces to try and summarize their knowledge about what is going on in China. According to Woetzel and Towson, six big trends are shaping China’s future.
1. Urbanization is shaping modern China, putting great pressure on infrastructure, transportation and public services, and on critical resources like clean drinking water. At the same time, urbanization is creating a great deal of wealth. Some 350 million people have moved out of poverty since 1990 in China, with disposable income per capita rising 300 percent during that period. This will have a clear effect on real estate and other industries.
2. China is the world’s largest manufacturer, with more than $2.2 trillion in manufacturing value added. Its traditionally low labor costs are rising, and there is aggressive movement from low-tech assembly to high-tech manufacturing. The growth of China’s telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies outside its home market shows that China can successfully play this new role.
3. The rise of the Chinese consumers – The American middle class was the world economy’s growth engine throughout the 20th century, but China may take over this role. Urban Chinese are shopping to meet their needs, driving a growing demand for middle-class goods, food, and entertainment.
4. A lot of money – China has more than $15 trillion in bank deposits, and that figure grows by $2 trillion every year. A large lending market outside the formal banking system has emerged, complete with underground finance, off-balance-sheet lending, and wealth-management products that is invested in various projects. Most of these wealth-management products do not specify where funds are used. This creates risks.
5. Brainpower – The number of college graduates has risen from 1 million in 1998 to 7.5 million in 2012. Think of all this brainpower… There is also a surge in research-and-development investment in China. In 2009, China accounted for just 12.8 percent of the world’s R&D spending, well ahead of most European countries. On the other hand, there is also a substantial disconnect between education, employment, and other markers of Chinese brainpower.
6. The Chinese Internet – About 60 percent of the 618 million Chinese now online have only begun using the Internet in the past three to four years, and overall penetration remains at just 40 percent of the population, compared with approximately 80 percent in the United States. There is great potential for further growth.
“China is developing so rapidly and on such a vast divider scale that instability and chaos are natural by-products. Yet underlying this volatility are powerful economic and demographic megatrends that are broad and long term. They will remain the driver of most of China’s daily business and economic activity—for better or for worse.”
So to wrap it all up, it think my $5 investment was definitely worth it. I got great value for my money and I came out with the feeling of having an overview over the major pillars of Chinese economy. I am going to go ahead and recommend this book to anyone who is beginning to do research on China. It will probably be a little too little for all of you China experts out there, but it was without any doubt, an interesting read for me. If I could go back and change the order of how I began reading my China Business Books, this would definitely have to be the first.
A good tip is to by the eBook version, which can be read on your PC, Kindle or iPad. It costs a little under $5 and you can begin reading it right away. I also comes packed with links to videos and other media resources that make the whole reading experience much more interesting.
Feel free to use the link below to purchase the book and see for yourself.