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on February 27, 2013
Written in the modish "cultural-studies" fashion by an academic in the humanities with no serious training in economics as a science, this book disappoints in a number of ways. Ross's knee-jerk hostility to what he sweepingly terms in black-and-white fashion "sweatshop" labor overlooks the fact that a country like the PRC that was mired in poverty, famine, and relatively slow growth during the Mao Zedong Era would not likely be able to move directly into a 5-day workweek and 8-hour workday during the early stages of the transition from an autarchic state-planned economy to a globalizing mixed economy. Ross's prescription of protectionist legislation and a "flight tax" for the US are pat answers to problems of much greater complexity than he is capable of understanding. A reader would be better advised to read a book on the Chinese economy by serious economist with academic bona fides and true fluency in Chinese such as Barry Naughton. The lack of a bibliography or works-cited list in a monograph like this is a sign of lightweight scholarship at best on the part of Ross.
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on November 19, 2006
This book is critical of the dynamics of offshoring, but it is not just another anti-China polemic. Instead, the author undertook extensive research in China, interviewing both employees and their foreign employers, and carefully analyzed the thoughts and motivations of all parties.

He draws some fascinating conclusions that you won't find elsewhere:

- Even in China, India, and Taiwan, employers use the threat of offshoring to hold down wages and make employees work harder. Workers in different countries currently have no way to organize and counter this pressure.

- Many of the cultural sterotypes about Chinese workers are better explained as logical responses to the prevailing work environment and labor market.

- Chinese workers assume that their favorable circumstances are temporary, and that companies will soon move on to the next low-cost region.

- Taiwanese managers have a reputation for being too demanding on their Chinese employees.

- Taiwan is experiencing offshoring to China to a much greater extent than the US.

He also does a good job presenting many well-known criticisms of globalization:

- Free Trade is a gross misnomer, given the vast incentives that governments use to attract investment

- China's size means that its low labor and environmental standards can drag conditions down everywhere.

- Chinese nationalist sentiment is common. Everyone there is taught that economic and technological self-sufficiency are a necessary bulwark against foreign menace. China's explicit goal is to build its high-tech capabilities.

- Companies can now move offshore quickly, even when the move involves "knowlege transfer".
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VINE VOICEon May 24, 2006
Ross explores the origins, current state and possible directions of "outsourcing" focusing mostly on the Asian continent. The impact of the existing and emerging trends are presented without any political bias or apparent hidden agenda. That is perhaps most remarkably refreshing aspect of the book. A significant number of books on this topic are typically political and biased. For each "debatable" issue, Ross presents arguments from both sides and discusses them in the context of his personal interviews with workers. The chapter focusing on India-China relations and possibilities is perhaps the best written chapter in the book, and is the topic is treated in a fairly novel way. If you want an unbiased look on the impacts of outsourcing from a worker's perspective, this is a must-read. Ross uses a very simple, narrative style that makes the book engaging and easy-to-read. The book is pretty detailed and you can expect to spend some time reading it (a good thing!). The notes/citation section at the end of the book is comprehensive and useful for the more serious reader. A must read.
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on September 23, 2006
Rarely we find a book like Andrew Ross's present a fair and balance view of US-China trade relationship. I think Andrew present China's side of arguement really well without demonizing the Chinese. Also, his analysis of US-China trade relationship is unusually sophisticated which is rare among American writers. Usually when it comes to issues regarding China, American authors do not try to understand where the Chinese stands. Not from Andrew Ross. Andrew understands the complexity of US-China relationship, instead of using the "we are right, the Chinese are moron" attitude.

I also like his analysis of relationship between Indians and Chinese. Unlike many other authors, he does not try to compare which side is better. Instead, he tells us the complexity of the relationships of the two.
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Despite its Sino-centric title, the book is really a broader study into the politics and economics of globalization, particularly of "off-shoring," the sending of jobs from one country to another. However, like many students of China, Ross was so engaged by it that the work winds up being truly a recent history of the high-tech industry in both China and Taiwan. Indian entrepreneurs too, make their entrance periodically. The work is fascinating in its detail. Ross lived in Shanghai for over a year and conducted hundreds of interviews ranging from American ex-patriate executives to Chinese and Taiwanese engineers in high-tech firms in coastal and inland China, as well as in Taiwan. We are given succinct summaries of the growth of the industry in many local regions of China.

Fast Boat to China is not a how-to-succeed-in-doing-business-in-China sort of book. But it should be read by anyone contemplating jobs being moved to China, whether the job is theirs at present, or the factory where the job now is performed. It also should be of interest to anyone who wants to get beyond the screen of stereotyped name-calling that often serves as the dominant conversation in the frequent clashes between Chinese and American interests.

For a full review see Interface, Volume 7, Issue 1.
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on April 17, 2006
Ross is usually ahead of the curve and it looks as if he has done it again. Instead of joining the chorus against outsourcing he has done his homework in China, interviewing the people who are supposed to have taken our jobs. I don't know another book that describes what the offshore impact of free trade looks like, or who benefits most from it. The on-the-scene reporting is sharp and detailed, and I agree with the Publishers Weekly reviewer that even more of it would have been welcome. I came away from the book with a lot more questions in my mind about jobs and globalization. Everything that happens in China now affects all of us, and Ross nails the role that corporations are playing in this transnational game.
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on December 27, 2013
This is a dreadful book. This is a guy who writes a book about economics, but tries to claim it isn't about economics. He has no training in economics, but tries to prescribe economic solutions to problems. I had to read this for class, and byfar is the worst book I have ever had to read for class.
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on April 7, 2006
This is an excellent book. For anyone interested in business and trade, obviously we need to keep our eyes on what's happening in China. Ross offers a very relevant critique of current business models and at the same time provides captivating history and culture lessons. Also, it's really well written, the author has a very nice style.
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on November 5, 2009
The author brings to light how Free Trade is effecting the culture of China: some well paid workers still choose a simple life and others are gung-ho on consumption. The low wages and government concessions given to foreign investment in the country create the movement of both white and blue collar jobs from other countries -- developed and developing countries in particular -- into China. I am glad to have read that the standards that the Chinese government and businesses expect from foreign companies, which are established in China, is higher than what is expected from local Chinese companies. This is unfair in a business sense but it shows respect from the non-Chinese companies. I have been given the impression that foreign companies are better to work for. For the foreseeable future the decisions that the Chinese government makes, along with international trade agreements, will effect every other developed, developing and undeveloped country on the planet.

An appalling example is of how a U.S. company that set up shop in Taiwan terminated the employment of a large number of employees that had been with the company for almost 25 years. The termination was to release the company of its obligation to provide the employees with a retirement pension, which was legally required by Taiwanese law if a worker was employed with the company for 25 or more years. The point here is the treachery of such companies. In comparison, when employees leave a company because they are aware that they are about to be fired for such a reason, the companies that were about to fire them will legally prosecute the employees that are looking for a new or better employer. The legal persecution arises from the past employees taking knowledge with them to a competitor. It isn't a fair, two way street! There is a growing lack of loyalty on the parts of the employee and employer. It is hard for me to take a side rationally in an informed way, but I am biased for the wage earner over the corporation when I hear of such sociopathic behaviour from a company.

It has been a number of months since I read the book from the library so I can not review it to provide a summary. But what has stayed with me is my opinion that the jobs flow will not stop. Nationalism and "Buy Local" is not a solution. I think wage earners around the world need to form "grass roots" organizations with which to pressure governments and multinational corporations to provide civilized behaviour out of those corporations and a chance for the The Bottom Billion to catch up via *fair* trade agreements. Not until we all do our part to help get labour conditions and wages improved in developing and undeveloped countries will we see economic conditions stop deteriorating in many other developed countries.

Please, no comments on my opinions. I only hope you have an impression on what an individual may take from reading this engrossing, and enlightening book.
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on February 3, 2008
Fast Boat to China investigates the offshore impact of white collar, high-tech job outsourcing to China. He attempts to dispel myths about Chinese employees propagated by expatriate managers in China who recruit locals to fill these positions. He draws from his interviews of employees in this transitional economy - engineers, professionals, and liberated Shanghainese women, or "xiaojie."

The book speculates on the implications of outsourcing jobs to Shanghai, and further west to Suzhou and Chongqing, not only to the Chinese themselves, but also for Indians and Taiwanese. While Ross does not dispute that outsourcing may help line the pockets for expatriate managers and CEO's of multinational companies, he scrutinizes the job insecurity and identity crises that outsourcing seems to bring to workers in a globalizing China.
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