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China, Inc.: The Relentless Rise of the Next Great Superpower Paperback – March 7, 2005

3.8 out of 5 stars 95 customer reviews

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Amazon.com Review

China has the world's most rapidly changing large economy, and according to Ted Fishman, it is forcing the world to change along with it. "No country has ever before made a better run at climbing every step of economic development all at once," he writes, in China, Inc.: How the Rise of the Next Superpower Challenges America and the World. China is currently the largest maker of toys, clothing, and consumer electronics, and is swiftly moving up the ladder in car production, computer manufacturing, biotechnology, aerospace, telecommunications, and other sectors thanks to low-cost, high-tech factories. China is also where the world is investing. In 2004, for instance, the city of Shanghai alone attracted over $12 billion in direct foreign investment, roughly the same amount as all of Indonesia and Mexico received. In tracing China's ascendancy over the past 30 years (with annual growth of an astonishing 9.5 percent), Fishman presents a flood of facts, figures, forecasts, and anecdotes and examines the implications of this unprecedented growth for China, the U.S., and the rest of the world.

Calling China's huge population "arguably the greatest natural resource on the planet," Fishman details how hundreds of millions of peasants have migrated from rural to urban areas to find manufacturing jobs, providing an unlimited, low-wage workforce to power China's economy. In the process, this shift has changed both Chinese culture and the global business climate in significant ways. Simply put, American companies can't compete with wages as low as 25 cents an hour and lack of regulation and oversight, so are forced to move their operations to China or completely change the focus of their business. And it's not just a problem for the U.S.--even Mexico is outsourcing to China. Though it remains to be seen whether this will truly be the "Chinese Century" as Fishman asserts, China, Inc. is a brisk and informative look at why so many American corporations, and American jobs, are heading to China. --Shawn Carkonen --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

A lively, fact-packed account of China's spectacular, 30-year transformation from economic shambles following Mao's Cultural Revolution to burgeoning market superpower, this book offers a torrent of statistics, case studies and anecdotes to tell a by now familiar but still worrisome story succinctly. Paid an average of 25 cents an hour, China's workers are not the world's cheapest, but no nation can match this "docile and capable industrial workforce, groomed by generations of government-enforced discipline," as veteran business reporter (and Chicago Mercantile trading firm founder) Fishman characterizes it. Since Mexican wages were (at the time) four times those of China, NAFTA's impact has been dwarfed by China's explosive growth (about 9.5% a year), and corporations and entrepreneurs operating in China have few worries about minimum wages, pensions, benefits, unions, antipollution laws or worker safety regulations. For the U.S., Fishman predicts more of what we're already seeing: deficits, declining wages and the squeezing of the middle class. His solutions (revitalize education, close the trade gap) are not original, but some of his statistics carry a jolt: since 1998, prices in the U.S. have risen 16%, but they've fallen in nearly every category where China is the top exporter; a pair of Levis bought at Wal-Mart costs less today, adjusted for inflation, than it did 20 years ago—though the company no longer makes clothes in China. First serial to the New York Times Magazine; author tour.(Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd (March 7, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743275500
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743275507
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (95 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,605,905 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Izaak VanGaalen on March 25, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"China Inc" reminds me of the "Japan Inc" of the 1980's. The Japanese business model, at the time, was very successful and feared by many as superior to our own. Since then, we've had the longest economic expansion in our history and Japan has had the longest recession since the end of World War II. Should we feel complacent? Definitely not. The economic juggernaut that is emerging in China is different and it will be more difficult to compete against. Our present government policies and our patterns of consumption are feeding the beast. We are a primary component of China Inc.

Ted C. Fishman is a veteran journalist and former commodities trader who has traveled widely in China and interviewed many workers, managers, and exucutives of Chinese and American companies. He gives us an avalanche of facts detailing the incredible growth that the Chinese economy has experienced in the last 20 years (averaging about 10% annually as opposed to our meager 3%). Can this growth rate be sustained. Fishman doesn't have the answer but he gives us a multitude of statistics to draw our own conclusions.

There is, in retail and manufacturing circles, something known as "the China price." Goods manufactured in China cost anywhere from 30% to 50% less than what they could possibly be made for in the US, in many cases it is less than the cost of materials. American multinationals - such as GM and Wal-Mart - are telling their suppliers to meet the China price or else - which means that the suppliers either set up shop in China or go out of business. Never mind trying to compete on price, China has an abundance of production workers that are willing to work for 40 cents an hour. Even at the high end they have chip designers that are willing the work for $2,000 a month, overtime included.
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Format: Hardcover
I spent most of the period from 2001 - 2004 living and teaching in Suzhou, China, a smallish city by Chinese standards that, in the last decade, has come out of nowhere to have the fourth largest GDP in the country. I have also read dozens of books attempting to describe what's going on in China. Most get parts of the picture right, but many are badly dated. Regardless, no one has done as good a job as Ted Fishman in describing the business and economics of today's China. If you truly want to understand how China's business engine works and how it is changing the rest of the world in ways we have barely begun to recognize, CHINA, INC. is an essential read, and easily the best book published on the subject.

Mr. Fishman approaches his subject matter from a wide variety of informative angles, supporting his arguments with factual data, statistics, and numerous anecdotes, any number of which I recognized from Chinese news reports. He begins with a look at Shanghai's transformation into one of the world's leading cities. He next steps back in time to present an historical perspective on how China's peculiar brand of "rule-breaking" capitalism came into being, illustrated by a fascinating look at the city of Wenzhou. He traces the rise of Shenzhen in southern China and the growth of the real estate and personal automobile markets. Chapters 6 through 9 are the strongest in the book, detailing China's impact on business in Pekin, Illinois and Rothenburg, Germany, the role of Wal-mart, the global impact of the "China price," technology transfer, and product counterfeiting and piracy. Throughout, these topics are illustrated with plentiful stories, specific examples, and commentaries from executives in the effected industries.
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Format: Hardcover
Before reading this book I was wondering about how could China could manufacture everything from simple wooden materials to highly technological electronic parts. As the laws of economics state the product is a mixture of capital and labor. A small wooden backgammon set can be manufactured with a high input of labor and small amount of capital. But considering the mainboard of the computers, the capital must be intense to make the products. You can't just fit these tiny pieces of electronic parts in place just by people's hands.

Taking the perspective from the macroeconomic sense, countries are usually concentrated on "high capital" production [say rmany, United States, Japan] or "high labor" production [African countries]. Where can we put China in this perspective where they can do both?

With these in mind, I split the book in two parts: The first part gives us the unusual things that China did so far. Really astonishing figures for the reader in terms of population, economic forces and the like. I can say that this part is "what they did". The second part is more economy-based, a rather "how they did".

The book is an easy-to-read one. There are in-depth explanations, presentations but they are not mind-bending and you are not lost in the paragraphs. Perspectives of the Chinese and American workers, consumers, manufacturers are well analyzed and presented. "Pirate Nation" and "China Prices" are two of the most striking chapters in the book.

At the end, after finishing reading it I had many of my questions answered, but I am left with a couple of questions more: The book concentrates the impact mainly on United States and to some extent Germany. But there are other countries in the world who can/will be affected by the Chinese giant.
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