Economic changes and government policies are driving millions of China’s migrant workers away from the wealthy coastal regions back to the less developed western regions. The trend is a clear sign that a fundamental change to China’s economy is in progress, as a growth model that lifted more than half a billion people out of poverty starts to slow. From the early 1990s onwards, China’s double-digit GDP growth was fueled largely by the cheap labor provided by people leaving their farms in China’s poorer inland provinces to find work in the factories springing up along the coast. Now this has changed.
Wellness tourism is a $3.7 trillion market globally and China is becoming one of the largest source countries for tourists who wish to combine tourism and medical treatment. 2016 saw the greatest number yet of Chinese tourists opting for such medical travel, and the largest spending ever. The rising numbers can be explained by a lack of medical resources domestically combined with people making overseas medical tours a form of luxury entertainment. What are the most favorable destinations for medical tourism? How do people book these tours and how emerging tourism companies make money from such customized trips?
Traditional offices are disappearing—some are being redesigned to be beautiful spaces that employees actually want to come to work in and meanwhile, humbler versions of the Silicon Valley spaces are increasingly popular too. This year, about 1 million people will work in a co-working space. In ten years, that number will top 1 billion. The co-working idea reflects the trend that companies keep trying to move more of their balance sheet from fixed to variable costs, and the supply of office-less workers keeps rising. So which vision of the future will win out—the palace or the co-working hive?
Do you like to work in a café like Starbucks or do you prefer staying in your cubical at the office? Today, fewer people are working in traditional offices, as most administrative work is either being automated or outsourced to cheaper markets, reducing the need for the in-house typing pools and IT services that once took up a lot of room. Young professionals, instead of being assigned to a desk, like to choose where they sit and work. The ideal place should be comfortable, with an open, cozy coffee-shop style. A boss-less office space is becoming increasingly popular.
A fundamental generational change in attitude is happening: business people in China have started to question lavish banquets with too much bajiu, and new approaches to health and wellness are coming into vogue—particularly among the young, hip and urban. Rising with this trend is a multibillion-dollar fitness and food industry. Fitness apps are being downloaded by the tens of millions, and gyms are popping up almost everywhere you look in major cities. Market researchers predict that the gym, health and fitness clubs industry is to generate $5.81 billion, and that does not include sales of health food, which seems to be a craze all its own.
The opening of the Shanghai Disney Resort in June 2016 was arguably the biggest event in the history of The Walt Disney Company since 1995. Philippe Gas, General Manager of the Resort, who has been working with Disney for 25 years, discusses the challenges of building the park and offers a detailed, inside look at the long process of developing the park with the Chinese government, the unique localization that Disney built into the resort and the overall mission to bring happiness to guests. So far the park has received positive reception from the public, but according to Gas, it’s just the beginning.
China’s large and still growing population, accompanied by rising household wealth and rapid increases in healthcare spending, has transformed China into the world’s second-largest pharmaceutical market. In 2015, overall pharmaceutical sales in mainland China totaled more than $115 billion, placing China behind only the United States ($330 billion). With a population of over 1.3 billion, the sheer size of the market all but guarantees that the Chinese market will continue to grow despite the problems faced by the healthcare system. “Healthcare is the one market where the market size equals the population,” says Kent Kedl.
Unlike its developed counterparts, China is aging before it gets prosperous. Its population structure is like Japan’s of the 1980s, while its per-capita GDP level has only reached that of Japan in the early 1970s. By far the biggest issue is China’s low birth rate, which declined sharply in the 1980s as a result of the one-child policy. In reaction to the problem, China started to relax its family planning policy since 2013, allowing a family to have two, but so far the results have been lukewarm. Is it too late to climb out of the demographic trap?
“As a father, I want our children to know that rhinos are not just pictures in the book,” says Prince Williams, the Duke of Cambridge, in a campaign video on wildlife protection. Behind this campaign is WildAid, an NGO with the catchy slogan: “When the buying stops, the killing can too.” WildAid’s mission is to end illegal wildlife trade and slow down climate change. It focuses on the end consumer hoping that reducing demand would force the supply side to curtail itself. In this interview WildAid’s Chief Representative for China May Mei explains the significance of the emphasis on demand reduction and WildAid’s successes in China so far.
Several Latin American countries suffer from acute income inequalities and extreme poverty. For governments, that poses a tricky question: how to lift hordes of people out of poverty? The Latin American experience shows that well-meaning government initiatives often don’t trickle down all the way to the poorest segments of society. Felipe Perez, professor at INCAE Business School, feels that the best way out of this is to rely on Bottom of the Pyramid initiatives that are seeded by the local population at the grassroots. If this were to happen, people who are part of the problem can also be part of the solution.