Between Crowds and Empires | Beijing

The sharing economy has enjoyed remarkably rapid growth over the last five years and looks set to scale new heights over the next decade. Some projections put the sector’s revenues at $335 billion globally by 2025, and the scope for further widening its geographic reach remains huge. The core of the sharing economy is the distribution of unused resources.Big companies and niche start-ups have succeeded by identifying market inefficiencies and transferring control over transactions to consumers. The common threads are disintermediation, the sharing of excess capacity, and increased productivity—as well as unprecedented commercial challenges for incumbent operators, such as taxi firms, hotels, restaurants, and utilities. These changes have urged most western regulators and governments to start questioning the long-term impact of the subject.

Large businesses and Western governments typically see the growth of the sharing economy as an unstable economic threat. However, large Chinese companies and the government seek to embrace the sharing economy. It appears that in many ways, China is a natural breeding ground for sharing economy as the country has a dire need to better use its resources, which include a massive Internet user base, a traditional culture of frugality and many successful business examples of how companies can work to shape the future of the sharing economy. Its transitioning methods of governance allow it to quickly disseminate changes in its ever-growing marketplace. This “flexibility factor” allows its governmental systems to adapt to the sharing economy, instead of clashing with it like its Western counterparts. Why the sharing economy has quickly made its inroads in the transitioning China, while it is facing major backlash against local Western governments?

What makes Chinese authorities remain confident in the sector as a key part to restructure China’s economy and manufacturing? Start-ups founders, artists, ridesharing drivers, delivery men (kuaidi), data analysts, anthropologists, graphic designers… voices from different professionals talking about expectations and concern on sharing economy in contemporary China.

This event has its origins in the workshop “Beyond Us”, organised with the support of Goethe-Institut São Paulo in March 2016. Transnational Dialogues expresses its gratefulness to Goethe-Institut Beijing for their help in bringing this conversation to China.

Between Crowds and Empires / 群众和帝国之间
Saturday 18 June 2016, 16h00-18h30
Goethe-Institut Beijing
Originality Square, 798 Art District, No. 2 Jiuxianqiao Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100015
歌德学院北京分院 文化项目和信息中心
北京市朝阳区酒仙桥路2号 798艺术区创意广场 邮政编码:100015 | Tel. +86 10 5762 6166

[Photo cover: Alem de Nos Workshop, São Paulo, March 2016]