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All the Tea in China: How to Buy, Sell, and Make Money on the Mainland Hardcover – June 21, 2007
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How to Buy, Sell, and Make Money on the Mainland
Jeremy Hart © 2007
Portfolio (Penguin Publishers)
192 pp. (Hdbk)
By apparently making every possible mistake, Jeremy Hart learned how to understand Chinese business people and businesses. He's thus an excellent teacher about what to do and what not to do to conduct business in and with that economy.
Although written four years ago, most of the book should still be relevant. Hart writes of pitfalls and important cultural idiosyncrasies in attempting to deal with Chinese manufacturers, investors, banks and governments. He gives clear guidance about working with Chinese businessmen. He also includes a list of companies now successful in business with China.
The author does business in China, has a business that helps other do business there, and provides the broad strokes on what you need to know about the country today and what some of the pitfalls might be. He opens with his working with a boisterous entrepreneur who was part of the Tiananmen Square protests and has now moved into the ranks of those moving up through the economic strata.
Haft claims that China's really part of a round world rather than a flat one. While there is a lot of Internet connectivity, for example, most businesses have little expertise in using it for business process. While the Chinese manufacturing process is nimble, it isn't coordinated and the kind of vertical integration possible in the West doesn't yet exist there. I also found it interesting that the author rejects the idea China is prospering simply because they have taken "our" manufacturing jobs. It is increasing efficiency that is putting pressure on manufacturing jobs all over the world, including in China.
We then get a crash course in Chinese business culture, how negotiations are likely going to be handled and the way many Western business types close off future business success simply by creating offense without being aware of doing so. It is important to be aware of what counts as respect and what counts as offensive to the Chinese. Also, our standard concepts and expectations about business are the product of centuries of development that has not taken place in China. Things need to be spelled out to every dot on every "i" and the cross on every "t". Even the way logistics is set up matters to your success and profitability. How one partners, with whom one partners, and if one has a presence in China all matter and Haft helps the reader understand why.
The author then helps us understand how and why to buy from China. Sometimes it is lower costs in one's existing market. Other times it is to expand into adjacent markets while holding onto one's present share. Another possibility is to start new markets. Maybe you want hedge off the advantage one of your present competitors is going to have by moving production overseas.
And there is more possibility to sell into China then I would ever have expected. They lack a great many raw materials and certain advanced equipment, medical supplies, and much of everything that has a "value added" component. Who knew? Haft spells all this out and what the prospective seller will need and have to do to be successful. He also is clear that your Chinese "partners" are not all that chummy and will try to go around you to get to your customers and you need to be aware of that threat.
China is a reality in today's business world. We have to find a way to work with them while also learning to compete successfully against them.
This is a very helpful book for those wanting to get up to speed on the current issues.