Will you play the China card in 2005?

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China's expanding economic impact on U.S. marketers-some would say threat, some would say promise-has been a key story this year. In terms of long-term effects, I'd argue it trumps that other international story, the ongoing military and political challenges in Iraq.

Consider these recent items:

n Last week, IBM announced it planned to sell its PC business to Chinese PC marketer Lenovo Group for $1.75 billion.

n Also last week, CMP Media debuted, with a partner, a licensed version of InformationWeek for the Chinese professional market. The title has an initial circulation of 75,000.

n Reed Business Information and International Data Group will publish Reed Business titles Variety and Packaging Digest in China. IDG has maintained a powerful presence in China since the launch of Computerworld China in 1980.

n Ad:Tech will take its leading event for interactive marketing to Shanghai, Nov. 15-17, 2005. China has an estimated 87 million Internet users.

n The Wall Street Journal's Online Journal now publishes a Chinese-language news site containing selected content from The Wall Street Journal editions and Dow Jones Newswires translated into Chinese; it currently has more than 58,300 active registered users.

n China's industrial output grew 14.8% year over year in November. Incredibly, this was the slowest rate in 10 months. Its trade surplus hit $9.9 billion, as exports rose 46% and imports grew 39%. Its GDP growth rate, according to the CIA World Factbook, is 9.1%

Clearly some U.S. marketers are answering the call. China is one of the fastest-growing destinations for U.S. exports, now ranking 10th among markets for U.S. products. Granted, the U.S. has a massive trade deficit with China; its trade surplus with the U.S. increased 27.1% in the first half of 2004, to $68.5 billion.

In his guest column in the December issue of BtoB's Media Business, our monthly magazine for publishing executives, Hugh Roome, president of Scholastic International, writes: "American intellectual property and business practices are sought after in these markets. For most of us, there's more opportunity in Asia than at home."

Alas, as we round out 2004, many U.S. marketers continue their provincial ways, international blinders firmly in place.

Ellis Booker is editor of BtoB and BtoB's Media Business and can be reached at

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