Q What are some of the reasons foreign companies fail to understand and crack the Chinese market?
A The biggest mistake I see foreign companies make is they don’t hire someone to run their China operations who has a track record of success there or who does not have the credibility and gravitas within headquarters to make necessary changes to business operations.
Q How do the Chinese you encounter — government officials, business leaders, others — view the United States? Is America seen as a declining power?
A Most Chinese still like the U.S. overall. The presumed next president of China, Xi Jinping, even sends his daughter to my alma mater, Harvard. Most Chinese have a great respect for the ideals America represents, yet at the same time there is distrust because they see a moral deterioration in the government and a declining power since Iraq.
Many politically influential Chinese tell me they think America is intent on containing China. They point to President Barack Obama’s decision to send 2,500 Marines to Darwin, Australia, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s pronouncements on the South China Sea (that the U.S. has interest in the dispute between China and its smaller Asian neighbors over a string of strategically significant islands in the region) as trying to provoke China into military tensions. They want to send strong signals to the rest of the world that China can no longer be pushed around by a declining America. The concern is whether hotheads on both sides of the Pacific become too influential.
Shaun Rein is the author of The End of Cheap China: Economic and Cultural Trends that will Disrupt the World. More at Storify.
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