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China's Super Consumers: What 1 Billion Customers Want and How to Sell it to Them by Savio Chan, Michael Zakkour

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Chapter 6An Insatiable Appetite

Even in the centuries which appear to us to be the most monstrous and foolish, the immortal appetite for beauty has always found satisfaction.

—Charles Baudelaire

While all of this was happening in the West, China continued to flourish in its own realm. The Ming and Qing Empires would sustain China as a regional power until the early nineteenth century. But still, the goal of selling the fruits of the Renaissance and the New World to China was out of reach. But, that does not mean foreigners did not try to sell to China. There were some brief successes, but the history of trade with China is one marked by China—when it felt like it—exporting and selling products abroad, but almost never buying products from the outside world, accepting only silver and gold specie in return for their luxury wares. Why?

  • Throughout its history China has been focused inward due to its size, population, and self-sufficiency.
  • For centuries China was the leading scientific and economic power in the world.
  • China invented many of the tools and products we still use today, and for a long time felt no need to sell them or spread them to the rest of the world; it invented everything it needed to stay viable and healthy for thousands of years.
  • The European Age of Discovery and Expansion had many economic and consumer implications and effects; discovering and desiring Chinese goods was one of them.

England, Spain, Portugal, France, and Holland colonized the New World and ...

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