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NO ANCIENT WISDOM, NO FOLLOWERS: The Challenges of Chinese Authoritarian Capitalism [Kindle Edition]

James McGregor
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)

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Book Description

In the past three decades, China has risen from near collapse to a powerhouse -- upending nearly every convention on the world stage, whether policy or business. China is now the globe’s second largest economy, second largest exporter, a manufacturing machine that has lifted 500 million of its citizens from poverty while producing more than one million US dollar millionaires.

Then why do China’s leaders describe the nation’s economic model as “unstable and unsustainable”? Because it is.

James McGregor has spent 25 years in China as a businessman, journalist and author. In this, his latest highly readable book, he offers extensive new research that pulls back the curtain on China’s economic power. He describes the much-vaunted “China Model” as one of authoritarian capitalism, a unique system that, in its own way, is terminating itself. It is proving incompatible with global trade and business governance. It is threatening multinationals, which fear losing their business secrets and technology to China’s mammoth state-owned enterprises. It is fielding those SOEs – China’s “national champions” -- into a global order angered by heavily subsidized state capitalism. And it is relying on an outdated investment and export model that’s running out of steam.

What has worked in the past, won’t work in the future. The China Model must be radically overhauled if the country hopes to continue its march toward prosperity. The nation must consume more of what it makes. It must learn to innovate. It must unleash private enterprise.

And the Communist Party bosses? They must cede their pervasive and smothering hold on economic power to foster the growth, and thus social stability, that they can’t survive without. Government must step back, the state-owned economy must be brought to heel, and opportunity must be freed.

During the Tang Dynasty, an official in the imperial court observed: “No ancient wisdom, no followers.” He was lamenting that regime was headed alone into dangerous and uncharted waters without any precedent for guidance.

Again today – as McGregor makes clear – this is China’s greatest challenge.





Product Details

  • File Size: 352 KB
  • Print Length: 150 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1935212818
  • Publisher: Prospecta Press (September 25, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009G5ASM0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #370,777 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For $3.99, you can't go wrong September 29, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The book explains how the Communist Party owns and operates large companies in China. It also explains the clever ways which the Party uses to suppress foreign competition by operating within the letter, but not the spirit, of international trade agreements. From the title, I had expected a little more discussion of the philosophy behind this, but the focus was primarily a description of the mechanics. The book could use two more chapters: one explaining more reasons why the Party moved into owning business after Mao's death, and another discussing the future implications of this unique state-managed economy.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Those with deep background knowledge on the Chinese political economy, or anyone accustomed to rigorous research, will find this book wanting. Mr. McGregor reaches reasonable conclusions, and therefore offers a sensible treatment of the topic. However, there is little to no original research, and I was frustrated by the endless pages filled with material drawn from previous reporting. For example, three consecutive pages are consumed by the demise of one private Chinese firm, Cathay Biotech. The firm's abuse at the hands of state-owned enterprises and their supporters within the Chinese bureaucracy highlights the institutional obstacles that indigenous private enterprises face, but the anecdote is drawn entirely from a single report by the NY Times which I had already read. Such reliance on single sources to occupy large spaces of a very small book suggests an unwillingness to conduct thorough, independent research on the part of the author. As a consequence of the author's over-reliance on previous reporting, readers are unlikely to be introduced to original knowledge or unique perspectives. Instead, the book serves as a copy and paste job of mainstream business and political reporting from the past few years. This book is not the product of scholarship or investigative reporting. For a more original and insightful introduction to China's political economy, look elsewhere.
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14 of 20 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Save your time...there are better options November 5, 2012
By David
Format:Paperback
Jim continues his recent pattern of ranting against China--often on topics that the government has opened itself to criticism. However, this book has little new information or revelations. He does little to explain why China's model has proven so resilient even as underlying factors like wage inflation, massive debt and weak demand abroad point to a potential serious slowdown. Instead, he clings to broad generalizations about the lack of legitimacy of the Party and its inherent troubles.

This effort seems to validate the rumor that most of his work these days--like the recent Indigenous Innovation Report--has been heavily outsourced to his research team. If that's not the case, it is unclear why such a skilled writer has made such a weak effort. He barely manages to scrape together 146 pages--and comes up with such brilliant revelations as China has helped out SOEs by providing free land and giving them loans at preferential interest rates (something mentioned in every housing bubble article since 2007).

If you're thinking about buying a book that provides insight in China's current economic and political challenges Red Capitalism, China's Superbank, or Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics are all better bets.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book introduced me to James McGregor, whom I'm now following on Twitter. The thesis of the book is simple and well presented. By simple I do not mean "light-weight" - just uncomplicated and clearly presented. I enjoyed what I read and found it enlightening, but I had hoped for more. Still, this is worth reading for anyone who is interested in the development of China's economy, as any investor should be these days. McGregor presents his case clearly and supports it well. Following him on Twitter has proven to be worthwhile as well since he tweets about articles and news reports that supplement his book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Got bored, stopped reading
Sorry, not my taste. Got bored, stopped reading.
Published 2 months ago by Tragic City
3.0 out of 5 stars You could have a better choice than this one
James' previous book One Billion Customers is a really good book on doing business in China. When I discovered his second book, which was published on 2012, it took me less than a... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Julien
5.0 out of 5 stars Expertly and Logically Written
James McGregor uses his expertise and understanding of the China Model to give us an accurate insight to China's past, present, and future as contingent on its economic success.
Published 7 months ago by Varun Menon
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read for anyone trying to understand China
Mr. McGregor is among a small group of journalists who spent a long time in China and understand the country and its culture in politics on a level rarely achieved. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Peter M. Herford
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
Despite some useful facts and information on the Chinese authoritarian capitalism, the author's treatment on the subject is superficial. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Koo Tat Kee
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, but nothing especially profound.
Fairly easy to read, but as of yet not much new. It does reinforce much of what is out there however. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Jeffrey A, Brueggemann
5.0 out of 5 stars Information-rich, Crisply Written Expert Analysis of China's...
Will China own the future? To many informed observers, both within and outside the country, an equally apt question is: can China cope with its current problems? Read more
Published 18 months ago by W. Hutchens
5.0 out of 5 stars Smart and very current
Refreshing antidote to the raft of glowing, over-the-top books on the boundless riches of the China market. Jim McGregor is one of the canniest commentators on China business.
Published 21 months ago by FONG F MEI
4.0 out of 5 stars China's red capitalism needs retooling
China's authoritarian capitalism may be a victim of its own success. It is getting harder to satisfy a population that is devoid of ideology and which demands non-stop lifestyle... Read more
Published 22 months ago by Reuters Breakingviews
5.0 out of 5 stars GRASPING THE CHANGES
Every once in a while a China book takes the pulse of a decade before anybody else has quite got to grips with the issues, shining a light on the problems and altering received... Read more
Published 22 months ago by Charles Newmarch
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More About the Author

James McGregor is an American author, journalist and businessman who has lived in China for more than 20 years. He is a senior counselor for APCO Worldwide and a professional speaker and CNBC commentator who specializes in China's business, politics and society. In addition to his China books, he is also author of the 2010 report "China's Drive for 'Indigenous Innovation' - a Web of Industrial Policies."

From 1987 to 1990 McGregor served as The Wall Street Journal's bureau chief in Taiwan, and from 1990 to 1994 as the paper's bureau chief in Mainland China. From 1994 to 2000, he was chief executive of Dow Jones & Company in China, and he also became a vice-president in the Dow Jones International Group. After leaving Dow Jones, he was China managing partner for GIV Venture Partners, a $140 million venture capital fund specializing in the Chinese Internet and technology outsourcing.

In 1996, McGregor was elected as chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China. He also served for a decade as a governor of that organization. He is a member of the Atlantic Council, Council on Foreign Relations, National Committee on US-China Relations and International Council of the Asia Society. He serves on a variety of China-related advisory boards. For more information visit his Web site, www.jamesmcgregor-inc.com.

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