Cross-posted at Bytes of China.

Oh how this Toyota Highlander advertisment is reflective of the new global order.  I saw this picture in Guangzhou’s domestic terminal. A Chinese couple is getting out of their Japanese brand car into what appears to be a private yacht. A white male greets them, taking their travel items and appears to be eager in their service.

This advertisement reflects a new Chinese imaginary — one that is global, expansive, unlimited, and exploratory. It also tells us who has the power to live out this imaginary. Ten years ago or even five years ago, I don’t think this advertisement would’ve existed. But now companies have turned to the Chinese consumer, encouraging them to participate in this lifestyle. The entire global economy right now depends on the Chinese elite and middle-class to spend. But how long can this go on for until we see the next crisis? For how long can each system create “value”?


Tricia Wang is an ethnographer, sociologist, and researcher. She is on a Fulbright in China observing how digital technologies are mediating new conceptions of information and desire among youth & migrants. She is a student at UC San Diego’s PhD Sociology program.  She blogs at Bytes of China.

Thanks to Benjamin B. for the tip!