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

3.9 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

James McGregor is well known and respected in Chinese business, political, and media circles. A Mandarin speaker, he has served as a key adviser to both the U.S. and Chinese governments. As The Wall Street Journal's China bureau chief following the 1989 Tiananmen Massacre, the chief executive of Dow Jones' China business operations during much of the roaring 1990s, and a venture-capital investor during China's dotcom boom, McGregor has negotiated every avenue of the labyrinth that is business in China. He is also a former chairman and a decade-long governor of the American Chamber of Commerce in China. He is a senior counselor for APCO Worldwide, and is member of the Council on Foreign Relations; National Committee on US-China Relations; International Council of the Asia Society; and serves on a variety of China-related advisory boards. He and his family live in Beijing.

Product Details

  • File Size: 706 KB
  • Print Length: 150 pages
  • Publisher: Prospecta Press (September 25, 2012)
  • Publication Date: September 25, 2012
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009G5ASM0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #729,999 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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.
Read more ›
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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 minute to place the order. To be frank, I didn't realize the title comes from a famous Chinese poem in Tang Dynasty. It was required to recite in junior high school. But it is the first time to meet the English version.
This book, however, is less enjoyable than the first one. But I will still recommend it to anyone who cares about China's economy and reform. By the way, this book has been published in Taiwan, not in mainland China.
China seems to close the door once again. But this time, the lock up policy causes trouble to multinationals. Any market of this size can not be ignored. No opium trade nor battle ships are allowed this time. It seems no way to get access without compromise.
I'm personally a casualty in the credit card war between VISA, MasterCard and UnionPay. Citi Bank China gave me two separated credit cards at the same time. The one with UnionPay logo is for in China use and one with VISA for the rest of the world. It is the most ridiculous policy I've ever seen.
James wanted to show me every aspect of China's authoritarian capitalism. Therefore, he explained where this came from, how it challenged the GATT/WTO system, and the future of this system. But he didn't do it very well. It seems all his points are based on existing papers by Unirule and World Bank. In fact, I found there are few original findings by James.
So my suggestion is like this. If you have no idea of how to do business in China, read his first book One Billion Customers. If you need in depth info regarding Chinese economy, you could have a better choice than this one.
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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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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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