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What does the US export?

Posted by Jingtian , 02 October 2008 · 209 views

Last week, our boss, who is based in the United States, came to Shanghai. I took him for a walk on the riverside of the Huangpu River, which separates Pudong and Puxi. During dinner, he asked me what I bought in the United States. I told him that I bought some clothes, cosmetic products and electronic products. They are sold at much lower prices than in China. He said, that might be due to high tariffs, then he added that places like Wal-Mart cannot sell clothes made in the US due to high labor costs. Therefore, these products are imported from countries like India or China. The only thing that the United States imports is entertainment.

Of course he has gone to extremes. As far as I know, the US exports: airplanes, agricultural products and weapons. Entertainment is a major import, too. No any other country has been so successful as the United States. Log on to every forum, everyone is talking about American TV series like Prison Break, Desperate Housewives, Lost, Heroes, 24, CSI, etc. There are dozens more the name of whom I have never heard of, but there are some avid fans in China. American blockbusters like Titanic, animes like Kung Fu Panda have made huge money from China. There are fan clubs of the pop stars like Mariah Carey, Michael Jackson, etc. When Mariah Carey was giving a concert in Shanghai in 2003, there was a terrible traffic jam and I had to got off the bus and walked back to the university. And that happened after Mariah Carey decided to add another concert two days later at the same venue, because so many people in Shanghai wanted to see her perform live. NBA is more popular than CBA (Chinese Basketball Association) in China, and they even play some of the games in China.

I don't know why the Americans did that so successfully. I guess there are highly commercialized in the US, therefore, for one thing, they are of a high standard; for another, they have to cater to the audience's interests. For example, the TV series are shot season by season, but in China, all the episodes are shot at a time, therefore, if the audiences do not like them, there is nothing the director or the playwright can do. A third reason might be that the United States is the No. one economic giant, therefore, it is able to export its entertainment, culture and values.

I asked three of our US colleagues, and only one of them have heard about Prison Break, and two have not even heard about it, the most popular TV series in China.

When can China export these to the United States? I am looking forward to the day when the Americans become crazy about Chinese singers and movies stars, kungfu, and ping pong.

December 2016

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