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2016 CSOFT Summit – The Rise of China’s Middle Class

From September 22nd to the 24th, the 12th CSOFT annual summit, themed “Thriving in a Global Economy: It’s A Small World After All”, was held in the Shangri-La Hotel in Shanghai, China. This year’s 2016 CSOFT Summit gathered together CSOFT executives, chief linguists, industry experts, academics, government officials, and associated media from 30 countries for an insightful discourse on how innovation is shaping the global economy, with a particular focus on translation and localization.

Since its inauguration in 2003, the CSOFT Summit tradition has grown from an internal alignment of corporate missions into Asia’s largest language, technology, and culture event dedicated to promoting cross-cultural communications and addressing challenges in cross-border exchanges. Last year’s summit was themed “Innovation in the Sharing Economy” and that topic was further expanded upon this year. We examined what it looks like to thrive in today’s global economy and how businesses can work through the challenges while taking advantage of the unique opportunities that arise from living in this increasingly connected world.

One commonly discussed theme from this year’s summit included the rise of the middle class in China, and the role it plays in China’s growing and thriving economy. Two of the Summit’s Keynote speakers, Shane Tedjarati, CEO & President of Global High Growth Regions at Honeywell, and Murray King, Vice President of Public Affairs at the Shanghai Disney Resort, both touched on the topics of the middle class.
2016 CSOFT Summit

Mr. Shane Tedjarati has lived in Shanghai for 24 years and has witnessed the transformation and opening up of China’s economy. While many experts have closely watched China’s economy over the years and predicted its failure, Tedjarati has witnessed the opposite. “In the past decade, China’s growth rate has been the fastest in the world,” he said, adding that China’s standard of living has increased 100-fold over the past 30 years, with 80 million people out of the poverty line. “At the same time,” Tedjarati shared, “China’s middle class has risen rapidly, with some 70 million by 2015 and 270 million projected by 2025. 60-70% of global growth lies in the rise of the new middle class.”

Tedjarati went on to claim that China is now the world’s largest digital market, especially in areas of e-commerce, industrial automation, and the Internet of Things. Multinational companies, he encouraged, should see China’s rapid rise of the middle class and emerging cities as a tremendous opportunity for growth.

Murray King, Vice President of Public Affairs at the Shanghai Disney Resort, said he has also witnessed China’s rapid development. He said that, after several years of negotiations, the Disney Park opened in June this year. This timeline seems to be in line with the rise of China’s middle class, a group of consumers who do not merely want to see a replica of international products, but instead want individual, uniquely styled products. It is this line of thinking which influenced Disney Shanghai’s slogan, “authentically Disney, distinctly Chinese.”


As China’s middle class grows, a class which desires to see products which are “distinctly Chinese”, there becomes a growing need for localization and translation services in China. As Tedjarati shared in his keynote speech, it is important for companies who are trying to expand in high growth regions of the world to invest in China now. Yet because, as Mr. King expressed, it is important for Chinese consumers that products be uniquely styled to their specific cultural needs, it will become increasingly important for companies looking to enter the China market to tailor their products and marketing strategies.

Likewise, as Chinese companies who are creating products for this growing middle class begin to look at international expansion, it becomes increasingly important that they begin considering different globalization strategies.

At CSOFT, our goal is to assist companies as they enter new markets. Our team of experts aims to help companies understand the nuance of language and culture so that they can expand with minimal risk. If you have interest in how our localization services can help you enter into a new market, visit our website

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