The following table by McKinsey was highly illuminating. It puts into sparkling perspective how important private domestic consumption is to each country as a percentage of GDP. One should always strive to be more led by domestic consumption as that usually means a better grasp and control of an economy's fortunes. China has been desperately trying to lead the world back from the diminished global trade due to the recent global financial crisis by shifting from an investment led economy to a more domestic driven type. As the table shows, its a long uphill climb still. Thats the negative way of looking at things - the half full view would be that there is still a lot China can do (and will do) to ramp up its domestic economy, and it will only means more consumption of global goods and services in the long run. Its going to be the Asian century mainly by moving just 10%-20% of the rural folks in China and India into the middle class consumption category.
On a side note, Malaysia's domestic consumption as a percentage of GDP is high enough but the major caveat about looking at tables such as these is that if your population is smallish, the high private domestic consumption percentage figure is too one dimensional. If your population is say less that 50m, you probably HAVE to be led by investment as a priority as your population will not be able to generate sufficient critical mass of demand for your industries to compete on a global scale with the economies of scale that is needed.
p/s photos: Jessica Gomes