Top positive review
19 people found this helpful
For $3.99, you can't go wrong
on September 29, 2012
I bought this because the introductory price was so great. On balance, I would have to say that it was worth it. The whole book can be read through in about 3 hours (if it has the read of an extended broadside, that's because it is). In the index, it had a nice synopsis of what each chapter was about. The chapters could also be read out of order if you wanted to focus on some particular subject.
There's a lot of what you would already know if you read the newspaper every day (which was basically the source material for this book, plus a few books by China watchers):
1. Consumption as a percentage of GDP is too low, and the leaders of China know this.
2. The SOEs (less government subsidies) yield negative rates of return-- and yet they are the backbone of the economy.
3. The innovation strategy of China, Inc is emphatically NOT to innovate, but to find some way to trick their foreign partners out of their hard-developed technology through some variety of dishonest means. (Did you ever doubt this? "Co-innovation"? "Re-innovation"? "Assimilation of imported technologies"?)
4. It's not quite clear even what *is* an SOE nor how much they participate in the economy. But the (vague) answer is that they are "many" and participate "a lot."
5. The Chinese companies use the technology that they have stolen from foreign companies against those very same companies in the role of competitor.
6. Yes, the Chinese are in Africa. No, they are not popular there.
7. The strategy of the Chinese government is tit-for-tat and intimidation of the foreign companies that work for them. What McGregor included was a few more examples than what we might remember from reading the papers every day.
8. No, the WTO has no teeth to solve the problems put before it. And even if it did, there is nothing like an impartial legal system in China to carry out any investigations/ make rulings anyway.
Some things were new:
1. The subsidization part of the SOEs takes place basically through: a) Free use of land; b) Preferential interest rates.
2. Some specific examples of things that we might have missed were included. One example was the Cathay Industrial Biotech debacle.
3. There was some talk about the steps that people take to keep their conversations secret-- something very much like a James Bond movie. (Flying to South Korea to make phone calls. Removing batteries from cell phones to not allow them to be turned on by remote listening devices. Deleting one's entire laptop on traveling from one country to another.
4. As this author sees is, the exchange rate is a minor factor in the trade imbalance (Loc 1640), and that much of the US damage is self-inflicted by other poor policies.
What would I have liked answered (none of which were since this was essentially a broadside):
1. I would like to have seen the actual Chinese characters included for ALL of the 4 character idioms. There were also just acronyms ALL OVER THE PLACE. That is not the nicest thing to have when reading on Kindle. In a book, you can just mark the page and go back to it. But on Kindle, it takes several steps to get back to the page of acronyms. There were also no page numbers.
2. The purpose of all this mercantilism is to acquire gold (fiat currency). But that brings its own set of problems. How is China getting around them?
3. How is this case so much different to the all powerful MITI (Japan)? Books were written about the omnipotent and omniscient Japanese Ministry, which came all to naught. There has been more than one case of a country that was trying to choose between underdevelopment/ absolute political control and development/ devolved political control. Is China really so unique in this regard?
The writing of the book seemed a bit....disconnected. A chapter will start of on one topic, and then have an insert of several points. Then it will get back to the chapter. Sometimes it seems like the insert will be a synopsis of what was written above. Other times, it will be a miniature article.
Overall, this is a pretty good read. For $3.99 and a few hours, you can't go wrong.