CHAPTER 8

Hefei: Home of the World's Next-Generation Consumer

The Chinese consumer growth story is beginning to happen in places unfamiliar to many. The highest economic growth rates are happening outside the commercial and government capitals inland. The city that best profiles these on ramps to China's new consumer economy is Hefei. This city's characteristics and growing importance are examined in this chapter. In order to give the reader a better understanding of the significance of this Hefei, let us first take a look at its official sister city in the United States—Columbus, Ohio—as a means of comparison.

“As Ohio goes, so goes the nation” is an old, well-worn political maxim uttered every four years during the U.S. presidential election. Recent presidential elections have often been won by the slimmest of margins, with voters in Ohio casting the deciding votes. Because Ohio confers a large number of the electoral college votes required by those who hope to claim the prize, presidential candidates visit the state often and get to know its residents quite well. It is a hard-fought state, with residents whose opinions cross the U.S. political spectrum. Long a bastion of our nation's manufacturing economy, union organizers hit the streets hard for their candidates. Equal in number are those whose fervent views on policy align with those of other candidates. This political diversity causes clashes and competition in a region where every vote counts.

Life in the Middle

In the ...

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