THE CHINA DREAM: The Quest for the Last Great Untapped Market on Earth
For more than 2,000 years, China's enormous population has tempted export merchants and investors from around the world.In the 1990s, over $300 billion in foreign investment capital poured into China and expensive efforts were undertaken to sell such goods as airplanes, luxury retail items, beer and cheap cars. With very few exceptions, these ventures were disastrous, beginning with attempts dating from Roman times (the author does allow there was some success during the first T'ang dynasty [A.D. 618–907], but even this was accompanied by periodic massacres of foreign merchants). Political leaders, international agencies and analysts have also been misled many times by the apparently unlimited opportunities in China. While this observation is not entirely novel, it has never before been argued so forcefully and with such extensive, solid documentation. Studwell, one of the most respected business journalists covering China, does not expect things to get better; he predicts a full-blown economic and political crisis for China and does not expect even that to wash away the basic cultural factors that make the domestic Chinese market so impervious to foreign penetration. Lacking only recommendations for a Chinese recovery, this book is a well-written, informative introduction to business in China, albeit from a relentlessly downbeat perspective. (Mar.)
Forecast:Studwell's prominence and his provocative thesis guarantee wide exposure, and reviews and word-of-mouth should be favorable. The book will also benefit from the simultaneous publication of David Sheff's China Dawn (Forecasts, Feb. 4).