Shaun Rein

Killing a chicken to scare the monkey, is a famous saying in China. Giving Wal-Mart trouble might be a way for Chinese authorities to send a signal to foreign companies in China, tells business analyst Shaun Rein in Business Week. Local protectionism is on the rise.

Attacking US retailer Wal-Marts for mislabeling its food products and arresting its staff, might be a signal things are changing for foreign companies in China, says Shaun Rein:

The new protectionism stems from a broader change in Chinese attitudes: Where once localities vied for the prestige and money a big foreign investor brought, today multinationals are taken for granted. In a 2011 survey by the American Chamber of Commerce in the People’s Republic of China, almost a quarter of American companies cited “increased Chinese protectionism” as their greatest risk. “It is going to get harder to get permits, and these foreign companies won’t be as welcomed coming into important neighborhoods,” says Shaun Rein, managing director of China Market Research Group. “That’s because their capital isn’t as needed as it once was.”…

Wal-Mart didn’t help itself by selling mislabeled pork. Crises over melamine-tainted milk, exploding watermelons, and hormone-injected meats have pushed food quality concerns into the national spotlight—and into the crosshairs of politicians eager to show they’re serious about safety. “By cracking down on a high-profile foreign retailer, their message is being sent throughout the country to consumers and supply chains,” says China Market Research’s Rein. “They realize they can get the same traction by detaining a few dozen Wal-Mart people as with a national crackdown.”

More in Business Week

Shaun Rein is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers’ request form.


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