Beijing Jeep: A Case Study of Western Business in China

Beijing Jeep: A Case Study of Western Business in China

Beijing Jeep: A Case Study of Western Business in China

Beijing Jeep: A Case Study of Western Business in China


In this updated version of Beijing Jeep, Jim Mann traces the history of the stormy romance between American business and Chinese communism through the experiences of American Motors and its operation in China, Beijing Jeep, a closely watched joint venture often visited by American politicians and Chinese leaders. He explains how some of the world's savviest executives completely misjudged the business climate and recounts how the Chinese, who acquired valuable new technology at virtually no expense to themselves, ultimately outcapitalized the capitalists.


Invite Chinese officials to Las Vegas? Why not? To the corporate executives of the American Motors Corporation, it seemed like a perfectly good idea, although nobody now remembers thinking about it too much.

In the summer of 1985 American Motors had just begun to produce its Cherokee Jeeps in China. American Motors executives had made countless trips to Beijing, and a few amc employees were already living there. Several Chinese officials of the Beijing Automotive Works--AMC's partner in China, one of the gargantuan state-owned industrial enterprises operating under China's socialist system--had visited the American company's headquarters outside Detroit and had toured other major American cities as well.

Over the previous six years virtually all business dealings between the leaders of this struggling American corporation and the high-level cadres of the Chinese danwei, or work unit, had been either in Beijing or in the Detroit area. Now it was time for another series of meetings between the two sides: the Chinese and Americans were trying to decide how to come up with the money needed to upgrade the auto plant in Beijing.

American Motors suggested what the Americans thought would be an interesting change of scene. the meeting with the Chinese delegation was scheduled in mid-August, at approximately the time amc was staging its annual dealer show, this time in Las Vegas. the show was a big affair in which amc unveiled its new model cars and trucks to all its North American dealers. For amc, as for other American auto manufacturers, the dealer show was an epic production, one on which the company spent lavishly to impress the dealers. At this 1985 show, amc was planning to unveil . . .

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