It is quite apparent that globalization is an aspect of modern-day capitalization. Economically, it connects parts of the world through capital investment and product movement. For example, this means that someone in Canada is able to purchase items from the United States and receive them in as early as one-two business days with the transportation technologies available for shipping goods today. Currently, in literature there are conflicting stances on globalization. There are three viewpoints expressed by William Norton and Michael Mercier in ‘Human Geography’ (2016). These include, the hyperglobalist, skeptic, and transformationalist theses. The hyperglobalist thesis is pro-globalization, taking an optimistic look at globalization. Hyperglobalists believe that civilization is founded upon global capitalism and government authority. In between, skeptics are mainly anti-globalization, the central features being that regionalism creates a less interconnected world compared to the nineteenth century. Lastly, the transformationalist thesis is anti-globalization along with the central feature being thick globalization, focusing on the intensity of globalization (Norton & Mercier, 2019). The relationship between economic globalization and China represents the hyperglobalist thesis. It is because of the popular global company of Starbucks opening stores in this country, that lead to the Chinese government having increased job opportunities, health insurance available to more citizens, and a better market that strengthens the nation-state.
The Starbucks Corporation is American based with many subsidiaries all over the world. With the help of international companies and shipping, this coffeehouse is one of the most popular on a global scale. This coffee chain began in the late 90’s, opening its first store in Seattle, the US. Gradually new stores began to open up in more and more cities around the world. Today, there is a Starbucks in almost every city across Canada, and in countries you would not even imagine one to be in. For any business, employees and a steady income are needed to keep it running. Many believed the coffee store would be unsuccessful in China due to the lack of popularity coffee has in that country. Ingrained in Chinese culture is tea drinking. Starbucks took this into consideration while making their stores in this area. This resulted in the company altering their stores to be more of local business, catering to the differing preferences of the citizens in China compared to America. They brought entirely new beverages that were coffee-free, and designed the stores for local consumers. In the United States, Starbucks is designed to be more of a stop and go, single shop, and in Asian countries, the stores cater to larger groups with increased moveable seating available. Additionally, with the advancement of the Starbucks app, it is known to be consumer centric, allowing customers to gain rewards and personalize drink suggestions. Moreover, in the Yunnan province of China, the Starbucks chain teamed up with the Chinese government to create a thriving coffee industry. In the New Statesman article (2010), it was stated that the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), the Yunnan Academy of Agricultural Science (YAAS), along with the People’s Government of Pu’er City came to an agreement that local farmers were to be supported with the “promotion of responsible coffee-growing practices and development of localized coffee” (p. 1). Starbucks claimed that this goal would be reached with the help of their investments from “a coffee development center, coffee farmer support center, and coffee processing facilities in Pu’er” (p. 1). The company claimed that this would create a vaster availability of coffee in the country. Overall, this initiative helps the future of local farmers and the environment and communities they live in. The job opportunities available, not only for the physical Starbucks stores themselves, but for the local farmers, provided an economically thriving coffee industry that once began in the United States, and now caters to China.
Not only were there more job opportunities for the Chinese citizens, but benefits came along with them. Recently in 2017, Starbucks in China started offering health insurance for the parents of the employees. Starbucks holds an annual employee meeting that involves parents and from there, they began offering health insurance to those individuals. This insurance plan is known to cover treatment for over 30 illnesses, including cancer, and select surgery costs. McGregor (2017) believes these benefits given out have helped approximately “10,000 parents of Starbucks workers in China” (p. 1). This insurance plan arose when there were over 2,600 Starbucks stores in the country. This promoted further growth for this company and helped many lives across overly populated China. At this time, American-Chinese tensions were high, politically, and these benefits show the support from a thriving American business to struggling Chinese parents. “The idea for the Starbucks China Parent Care Program, as the new benefit was called, grew out of a fund Starbucks operates in four major markets, including China, that provides financial assistance to employees and their families in times of need” (McGregor, 2017, p. 2). The company found out through discussions with their employees that over 70 percent of Starbucks employees were worried about the health of their parents and the lack of financial strength they have to assist them. The people who are eligible for this health insurance are those who have worked for the company for a minimum of 2 years and those whose parents are younger than 75, and residing in China. “It is intended to complement the country's government-run health insurance, which provides basic coverage” (McGregor, 2017, p. 2). Furthermore, in McGregor’s article, lead chairman of the Starbucks franchise, Howard Schultz, said “there isn't one rule for how to build a company or how to lead an organization, many times you have to customize your leadership style for what it is you’re trying to do and make it as relevant as possible to the people you’re trying to lead and manage” (p. 3). Thus, the decision to release this health insurance plan for elder people in need, strengthens the nation state’s health and improves the living conditions.
It is no surprise that Starbucks began to thrive in China, as it does in many other parts of the world. The capitalist circuit learned from lecture can be used to describe how the market increased as a result. The money invested into building Starbucks and altering it to meet the needs of Chinese culture, required manual labor power, skills and a means of production for things like the raw materials. Putting everything together in a factory to become commodities is part of the production process that creates a whole new commodity that did not exist prior to production. What comes out of this entire cycle is the money surplus, sustaining so many people's jobs and allowing an insurance plan to be in place. Starbucks is a prime example of economic globalization in action because there are stores across the world with products that are globally produced. Overall, the de-concentration of these processes to different parts of the world allows for an integration among national borders.
The economic globalization of Starbucks strengthens the nation state of China more than just politically. It is through the numerous job opportunities available, older citizens in need being able to receive health insurance, and the coffee market thriving for farmers and distributors, that makes this company a positive attribute for China’s government and its people. Starbucks being able to alter their beverage options to cater different cultures and tastes of people all over the world makes the consumers feel as though the company “never feels like an impersonal American corporate giant” (Animucka, 2015, p. 1). Generally, the globalization process that goes into each and every Starbucks drink, in terms of production, technology, transportation, and money, the process strengthens the nation state while improving the coffee industry that is consumed globally by society. The international scale Starbucks has grown to, having approximately 20,000 stores within 63 countries as of 2015, proves that the capitalist circuit is constantly in action to meet the needs of individuals around the world (Starbucks, 2015). Starbucks provides an interconnectedness in various places in the world through economic, political, cultural and ecological processes.
Overall, the nation state of China has enabled economic globalization with the company of Starbucks deciding to reach this population with the help of local coffee farmers and government connections and agreements between the United States and China with a sense of imperialism, control over the weaker nation-state of China, through the more powerful one of the U.S.