The story

When CEOs and professional investors in developed economies go to bed these days, some may pray for protection from markets in turmoil, share prices in the cellar and angry financial gods bringing fire and brimstone with every check of their Bloomberg terminal or the front pages of The Wall Street Journal.

"Spend, China," they whisper. "Spend."

The dream of China is the life preserver many multinational corporations are clinging to, not without some reason. The recent Shanghai Auto Show perhaps showed that like no other. More than half a million people attended, including 1,500 automotive manufacturers from around the world.

Carmakers decided to use Shanghai as the launching point for 13 new models, most notably Porsche introduced its first four-door sedan, the Panamera, flanked by Chinese models and surrounded by a rapturous crowd of the world press. It's telling that such an important debut took place in China, rather than the company's home in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen, where the German automotive industry is being buffeted by the high winds of the credit crisis.

While the Big Three from Detroit are fighting for their lives, China has more than 100 domestic car makers competing with multinational carmaker to get a piece of the growing Chinese car market. For the first quarter of the year, 2.7 million cars were sold in China -- besting U.S. sales of 2.2 million for the first time to become the world's largest car market. Watch CNN's Emily Chang discuss China's burgeoning auto market Read full article »

CNN's Andrew Stevens, Emily Chang and John Vause contributed to this report.

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