Mr. China: A Memoir (Anglais) Broché – 28 février 2006
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Descriptions du produit
Revue de presse
“One of the wittiest, most compelling accounts of anything I’ve read in a long time. A terrific book.” (Tucker Carlson, co-host of CNN's Crossfire)
“A compelling account, related with sly humor and hard-earned wisdom.” (Library Journal)
“Hugely entertaining…Clissold loves China…but he also views it with clarity and no small amount of humor.” (Washington Post)
“Hard to put down... with passionate characters and vivid landscapes. Clissold excels at analyzing a strange business culture....” (Playboy)
“Present at the creation of China’s economic miracle, Clissold’s memoir is an instant classic. Sharply observed, funny as hell. Indispensible.” (Time magazine)
“An adventure tale. Clissold is a wonderful and compassionate narrator (with) a deep respect for the culture, language, and history.” (USA Today)
“One would be hard-pressed to find a serious Western investor in China who isn’t aware of Clissold’s eye-opening account.” (Forbes)
Présentation de l'éditeur
Mr. China tells the rollicking story of a young man who goes to China with the misguided notion that he will help bring the Chinese into the modern world, only to be schooled by the most resourceful and creative operators he would ever meet. Part memoir, part parable, Mr. China is one man's coming-of-age story where he learns to respect and admire the nation he sought to conquer.
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In MR. CHINA, Tim Clissold tells a remarkable story of some of the first Western business forays into China during the 1990's. The model seemed simple enough - bring Wall Street to the People's Republic by raising huge sums of capital in an investment fund, trade that capital for majority shares in going businesses that seemed promising, infuse them with new technology and management practices, then buy up weaker competitors and consolidate them into massive, unbeatable players in the domestic and export markets. Of course, it was all far easier on paper than it was in reality, and that is the crux of Mr. Clissold's story.
By any measure, Clissold's tale is a businessperson's nightmare, a sort of Wall Street meets the Wild, Wild East. Politics infects every transaction, rules and contracts are broken as fast as they are made and signed, paperwork is a mess, accounting principles are nonexistent, money disappears or moves from one bank account to another to hide it, local managers lie, embezzle, or compete against their own employer, and everyone works hardest when they are busy lining their own pockets. Attempts to fire managers spark massive lawsuits, beatings, and even riots. Clissold spends nearly all his time putting out fires, holding off his investment fund managers, arguing with Chinese managers he has fired, and pleading his case to judges, government officials, and Party representatives. The harder he works, the more the fund's companies fail until his own health suffers.
Tim Clissold tells his story in a surprisingly matter-of-fact tone; he deserves to be far angrier and more cynical. He writes in an entertaining and engaging style, mixing a sort of detached amusement about events with some interesting cultural background. His Chinese managers and officials come across a bit too stereotyped and some of his background is clichéd, but those shortcomings are far outweighed by his outrageous exploits. The only false note occurs in the final two paragraphs of the book when the author attempts - badly and unnecessarily - to soften his message and rationalize the dishonest and outlandish behaviors he has spent the previous 248 pages describing.
While Western companies have almost universally eschewed the joint venture approach in China, MR. CHINA nevertheless offers valuable insights about doing business on the mainland. From my own three or four years' observation living in China, I can say that much of Clissold's cautionary advice applies today. Agreements and contracts are still more symbolic than enforceable, adhered to only if and when it suits Chinese interests. I recommend this book highly for both its entertainment value as well as its lessons learned.
After rigorously looking at hundreds and hundreds of potential investments, the two of them raise over $400 million and begin to put the cash to work in a series of JVs. In what should be a cautionary tale to anyone looking to invest or do business in China, Clissold describes - in rather remarkable detail - the unique 'challenges' they encounter in making a return on their investment. Clissold wisely focuses on three episodes - each involving plant managers or owners - where the Western and Chinese views of banking and contract law begin to diverge...then unravel. Can Tim and team keep it together? It'll require superhuman effort. I was exhausted simply reading some of these chapters. I can only imagine the stress and strain of actually living it. Indeed, at one point Clissold's body seems to simply give out. This, however, is not a man easily defeated.
Despite the travails Clissold faces in the book, the book is all about the potential of China. He brings life to the sheer numbers and masses of people - his description of Chongqing for example (how many people know that this is China's largest city?)..."The density of people was staggering: millions and millions swirling in the roadways, all in faded blue overalls and with piles of baggage, blocking the gates at the station, crammed into buses, milling about on the pavements."
Wonderful writing, made all the better by the pithy little proverbs that Clissold has chosen to begin each chapter. I stared at each of these for a minute or more, admiring their brevity, significance and - upon finishing the chapter - realizing how apt Clissold's choices were. Well done, Tim.
To a great extent it explains to me the situation I was actually in during my trip to Humen China last November - the balance between the Party and the private sector there, the role of the press, the work ethic and entrepreneurial drive of the Chinese, the intrigue of their nefarious rules/regulations and the balance between Beijing and the provinces. It reinforces the wisdom of our non-profit trade group having over 30 members with offices in China, a resouce we can draw from in our network. But this book is what individuals must read and come to grips with prior to travel to China.
I almost can not imagine what our members went through in opening factories there. After you read this book, neither will you. And the same holds true for our many members there or soon to be in one form or another.
Simply amazing and an important, informative, moving and almost visceral read for those of us in this global game.
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