As this book goes to print, the U.S. stock market has been able to claw its way back to more respectable levels, and priorities around job creation have taken center stage in American politics after the Republican mid-term election victories. Skepticism remains about the sustainability of a jobless recovery, given America's dependence on consumer spending. As the global economic situation continues to improve, China seems poised to lead the way out, having surpassed Germany as the leading global exporter. And in a reversal of the 2009 layoff situation, South China factories have even begun offering workers new incentive plans to lure alienated migrant employees back to the assembly line.

Shipping Point: “See the wind … turn the rudder.”

Chinese proverb

It is difficult to fully comprehend the scope and scale of the changes taking place in China today. The same can be said for understanding the dramatic shifts taking place in the consumer retail space. It is critical, however, for LSPs and their retail clients to grasp how these two seemingly unrelated themes intersect, and how the dynamics of their crossing paths will directly impact global supply chain strategy in the years ahead.

A discussion on China's future is easier to comprehend when prefaced by some insight on where China has been. Putting China into historical perspective helps explain the reasoning and motivation behind many of the initiatives underway in the country today. We know that China's ...

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