Russell Belk and Xin Zhao INTRODUCTION Benson (1996) notes that there is a striking parallel between the growing momentum of commercial forces in 1930s era Shanghai and the “market socialism” of China today. The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were a time of Chinese encounters with foreign products, advertising, and trade that have strong similarities to those that have emerged under the post-Mao “open door” policies of China. In both cases, charges of consumerism, worshipping the foreign, and materialism arose, as well as local accommodations of or confrontations with globalism. Nevertheless, the conditions that surround these two periods of open contact with the West are different. It is also important to avoid simply framing the earlier contact as a “Western-impact/China-response” model, even though “the old ‘impact-response’ model is perhaps more relevant in [Old] Shanghai than in any other place in the nation” (Lu 1999, p. 18). Among the alternatives to this model is that of localization suggested by Watson (2006) and others. In this case the local response is to transform global brands into something different with specific local meanings. A third model is for the local to dominate the global, as suggested by Cochran (2006), who shows that Chinese brands of patent medicines and pharmaceuticals dominated the market in Old Shanghai and continue to have an important presence in the Chinese market (Zhou and Belk 2009). A BRIEF HISTORY OF CHINESE FOREIGN TRADE While China may have had some domestic branded goods as early as the late tenth...
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