China Business: The Rules of the Game

By Carolyn Blackman | Go to book overview

Introduction

On a beautiful autumn day in Beijing I accompanied a coffee importer, an expatriate, on his rounds to collect outstanding debts. We set off in his authentic Beijing Jeep—that fine example of Chinese socialist engineering. The chaotic traffic necessitated many gear changes and they were all rough. We visited numerous coffee bars, at all of which there was a long discussion with the owners: they would pay their accountsif he fixed their broken toilets, orif he provided and installed a new coffee machine, or … There was always an ‘if … then …’. Most hadn't paid their bills in six months. In a couple of the coffee bars, we came across the representatives of big international beer companies who also were trying to extract what they'd been owed for six months.

On one occasion my friend emerged triumphantly from the discussion with a cheque, only to discover later that it had been back-dated. Chinese banks won't honour a cheque that is more than 30 days old, which meant that he would have to retrace his steps to that coffee bar and begin the negotiation anew. After a day spent in ‘cherchez le cheque’, my coffee importer friend was no better off financially, and I had had my bones rattled to death by his old Jeep.

In this story we are face-to-face with some of the realities of China for Western expatriates. The Beijing Jeep symbolises the old Chinese technologies—outdated,

-xiii-

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China Business: The Rules of the Game
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Preface viii
  • Glossary xi
  • Introduction xiii
  • Quick Reference Chart to Aspects of the Chinese Business Scene xix
  • I - The Chinese Face of Globalisation *
  • 1 - A Lot to Learn: ‘nowwhere Else in the World is It like This!’ 3
  • 2 - Sustaining Competitive Advantage 16
  • 3 - Corruption: ‘legitimate Loot’ 24
  • 4 - Communication 40
  • II - Strategic Plans Meet Chinese Reality *
  • 5 - Disappointed Expectations 55
  • 6 - Hidden Agendas 68
  • 7 - Corrupt Practices 83
  • 8 - Trust 94
  • III - Foreign Managers, Chinese Staff *
  • 9 - Shared Management 107
  • 10 - Culture Change 116
  • 11 - Skills Differential 133
  • 12 - Supervision 142
  • 13 - Manager Quality 151
  • IV - Bureaucracy and Business *
  • 14 - The Socialist Market Economy 169
  • 15 - Local Government Power 175
  • 16 - Exorbitant Levies and Sundry Taxes 185
  • 17 - Mutual Co-Operation, Mutual Benefits 194
  • 18 - Talking to the Bureaucrats 204
  • 19 - Conclusion 215
  • Bibliography 222
  • Index 226
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