Tuesday, February 09, 2010

China’s attitude shift

James McGregor, a journalist, media entrepreneur, investor and long-time resident of China, gave a sobering talk today at an Amcham lunch in Hong Kong. As an American living in China for more than 20 years, McGregor says that he loves both countries, but he thinks there has been an unsettling attitude shift in China recently. He believes that the arrogance that was once a less-than-appealing feature of U.S. businesses abroad has been adopted by the Chinese at an alarming rate.

Some of McGregor’s other observations included:

- A belief in “exceptionalism,” which was once an American position, is now common amongst Chinese business leaders and officials.

- More than ever before, Chinese authorities are moving to implement regulations to rig markets in favour of Chinese businesses. These regulations are designed to replace foreign businesses.

- “Indigenous Innovation” is a policy gaining traction at all levels of government in China. McGregor notes however, encouraging innovation which is protected from global competition by a net of regulations is not a plan that is likely to succeed.

- State-owned enterprises are enjoying a resurgence as Beijing has rediscovered its interest in maintaining an economic constituency that it can count on and control. Privately-owned Chinese businesses are beginning to feel they are at a disadvantage in their own country.

- Google was not about censorship. It was about corporate espionage.

- China is headed towards building the world’s largest intranet and if Chinese businesses want to compete globally, they can only do succeed if they have access to the same information that the rest of the world has.



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