- Can “Altasia” steal China’s thunder?
IN 1987 PANASONIC made an adventurous bet on China. At the time the electronics giant’s home country, Japan, was a global manufacturing powerhouse and the Chinese economy was no larger than Canada’s. So when the company entered a Chinese joint venture to make cathode-ray tubes for its televisions in Beijing, eyebrows were raised. Before long other titans of consumer electronics, from Japan and elsewhere, were also piling into China to take advantage of its abundant and cheap labour. Three-and-a-half decades on, China is the linchpin of the multitrillion-dollar consumer-electronics industry. Its exports of electronic goods and components amounted to $1trn in 2021, out of a global total of $3.3trn. These days, it takes a brave firm to avoid China.