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Posted on October 11th, 2012, by

In this paper we are going to study and compare two books – China Shakes the World, by James Kynge and One Billion Customers, by James McGregor. Both books are related to economical situation in China and are written by the experts in this issue, but still have sufficient differences.

The emergence of China on the world stage was rather rapid and successful. There are various theories and theorists providing explanation for this fact. The major questions, which are asked in this relation are ”“ what can explain such a dramatic rise of a country and for how long it can continue in this way?

James Kynge worked as journalist in Asia for twenty years and worked as the chief of the Financial Times. He had the chance to witness the China-Taiwan missile crisis in 1996 and the first presidential elections in Taiwan. He used the chance to travel to numerous provinces in China and received several rewards for journalist practicing. The culmination of his investigation work was his famous book ”“ China Shakes the World. Critics agree, that this is a unique book about social and political situation in China and China’s influence on other countries in the world and particularly on America. He concentrates upon the problems, as well as successes, of China, the ways of its transformation.

James McGregor, the former chief of Wall Street Journal, head of Dow-Jones China, Chairman of American Chamber of Commerce in China had also rather long and profound experience after spending most of his professional life in China. He had the chance to witness the political and economic transitions of the country, to take part in its beginnings of 1980s and till the moment of Chinese mega-deals. Thanks to this, McGregor was able to write a famous book ”“ One Billion Customers, which is by right considered to be one of the best business books. The book reveals all the necessary information for starting and succeeding in business in China, avoiding the situations of fraud or pitfalls of the business environment of the country.

Thus we can conclude, that the information and facts, presented by both authors, are unique, profound and substantial, due to their great experiences of work in China.

One of the strongest sides of Chine is the power of the people, living in the country, as Kynge states. The world’s trade and politics are thus under the strong impact of hunger for job in China, raw materials, food and energy sources. Kynge presents his arguments, proving, that this growth is directly related to the state of health, politics, economies of other countries, namely the United States. Ā “From China’s work force gobbling up American factories in the Midwest to an industrial boom spreading pollution to American shores, China’s actions halfway around the world have immediate impact here at home”¯ (Sagerson, 13). Kynge predicts cheerless future for China, if the country is not able to struggle with its numerous internal problems; among them he fairly underlines the conditions of environment, situation with banking systems and government institutions.

The book involves the readers more due to inculcation of the outstanding personal stories of people, who find themselves in the center of the new revolution. The brightest examples of eminent Chinese entrepreneurs are Liu Chuanzhi, who had to come through the Cultural Revolution and was the chairman of Lenovo, and some time ago managed to buy IBM’s PC block or Yin Mingshan, who worked as a book-seller, but then was able to build one of the most successful motorcycle companies in China. Such people, as the author argues, can push the whole nation forward. However, this doesn’t mean, that Kynge provides only positive examples, he analysis also the other stories, like that of Qi Yuling, who suffered from the father of her rich friend, she lost her identity and the chance for university education and thus for opening possibilities in the future. Such examples are used by the author in order to underline the weak sides of China, where the social trust is not strong enough, there are cases of corruption and fraud among the highest authorities and so on. We all seem to know enough about China, and still the narration of Kynge is stuffed with facts and information, which are able to change the attitudes of the readers and make them have a new look and China and its influences and connections to America.

McGregor’s approach is different from Kynge’s writing, it is that of storyteller, as he presents the sagas of eight big businesses in different ranges of industries, including banking, news, airlines, media, education and telecommunications. He develops the characters and presents the analysis of their motivations, the economical and political factors they were to consider, investigates the cultural issues, related to business development.Ā  These stories are absolutely unique, because on the one hand they are entertaining and on the other hand there are numerous facts and lessons to be learnt from them. At the end of this chapter, the author simplifies the task of the reader, presenting his own analysis of the information provided, and of its relation to the reader along with his recommendations. The examples of such recommendations are as follows: “You don’t win in China by getting only to the top guy. You win by enlisting supporters at all levels.”¯ (McGregor, 142).

Some critics consider the title of the book not quite appropriate or better to say misleading, as the book is in reality is not simply consumer-oriented guide, but touches much more business issues. Very positive aspect about the book is the fact, that it presents so much versatile information about the culture, politics, economy of China, that this might be a source of important information for any type of business, which is going to develop there.

In the book by Kynge we are able to find the explanation, how one of the biggest Communist states in the world, which initially could be compared to the United States of around nineteenth century, is able to widen the division between rich and poor, haves and have-nots in the whole world, including America (Sagerson, 22). Separate attention the author pays to the influence of the balance between China and the United States upon other countries of the world.

Thus actually the first part of the book concentrates on the past events, whereas the second part tells about the future. According to Kynge, and we are to agree with him, the recent development of China is not common for the world history. Here he means, not only the rapid transformation ”“ “the compression of development time”¯ ”“ rather the size of the country, which is a very important argument for the author. He argues, that this advantage gives China the possession of characteristics of several countries: there are Ā enough people, able to work for “preindustrial”¯ salaries, at the same time thee are a lot of educated and talented specialists, mastering skills and knowledge of modern technologies. This causes high productivity on one hand and powerful hunger on the other. The argument of Kynge, stating, that “Chinese history is very much less the story of multiplication than of long division”¯ (48) is proved by the actual facts, as initial tension between the amount of food and number of people, who wanted to eat, was substituted by the tension between the amount of workforce and the number of work places available. The author demonstrates, how this hunger goes beyond the borders of the country and has impact all over the world.

Kynge also pays attention to the process of shaping of China’s economy. The old communist economy was supposed to vanish already, however “government policies have the effect of ensuring that almost all manufactured products are in chronic oversupply, with the result that where other nations’ companies export to expand their success, China’s companies export simply to stay afloat”¯ (Kynge, 43). The author puts the main principle of the Chinese economy as following: “when reform is too fast there is chaos. When reform is too slow there is stagnation”¯ (Kynge, 178). This is absolutely correct, as it is not possible to maintain both, one is to be sacrificed for the sale of the other.

McGregor also concentrates upon the way, how China reached such level of economical development. From the very beginning of his book, he points out, that “China is simultaneously the world’s largest startup and the world’s largest turnaround”¯ and “crippling encounter with communism that left an impatient, hungry and hardworking population determined to get rich and regain its rightful place in the world”¯ (McGregor, 5). According to him, this enables China to provide great business opportunities along with challenges to global business in dimensions, which are not peculiar to any other of the countries.

The information of Kynge is valuable and gripping, however it refers more to theoretical basis. As for the book by McGregor, we are to admit, that it has a great practical value. It is practically the navigator for the perfidious waters of business life in China. There are concrete lessons, strategies, methods for building a successful business in the country, which is said to be the fastest growing consumer in the world. “Foreign companies rightly fear that Chinese partners, customers or suppliers will steal their technology or trade secrets or simply pick their pockets. Testy relations between China’s Communist leaders and the U.S. and other democracies can trap foreign companies in a political crossfire. McGregor has seen or experienced it all, and now he shares his insights about how China really works”¯ (Temple, 2).

There are certainly the stories about the rise of China to such a power, but the author is more concentrated upon the practical strategies for conducting business in China. McGregor underlines, that for the businessman in China it is first of all necessary to be able to grasp the techniques for survival in the absolutely chaotic market, where each deal presents a precious lesson. To be successful he should constantly expect surprises from his partners and consumers and be able to deal with such situations in order not to simply loose his money. The way of doing business in China, according to McGregor, strongly differentiates from that in other countries, this happens due to different style of operating both by people and by the government. The work is also so difficult because the laws in China are considered to be laws only in case if they can benefit China. He writes about this: “Negotiations can take forever and the resulting agreements can be promptly ignored.”¯ (McGregor, 142). He also openly comments on the facts, that Chinese partners and suppliers have the reputation of corruption and are able to steal new technological developments or any other trade secrets of other foreign companies in case, they can derive benefit from this. As the result, as the author states: “foreign executives often get run over by their Chinese competitors, the Chinese government, or their Chinese partners ”” or sink themselves through various combinations of unrealistic expectations, impatience, and lack of common sense”¯ (McGregor, 201).

Overall, in this paper we have briefly analyzed two books about China – China Shakes the World, by James Kynge and One Billion Customers, by James McGregor. Both authors spent a lot of years, working in this country and due to the positions, they occupied there, they had the chance to study the peculiarities, inherent in this country. They both investigated some historical facts about the economical and political development of China, rapid changes, which took place in the country, both social and economical ones and presented their explanations of the possibility of such rapid development of China. The difference between the two books, according to our opinion, lies first of all in target audience, as the book by McGregor would be of greater interest mostly to business people, whereas in the book by Kynge there is enough information useful for economists and social activists as well; also McGregor’s book is more concentrated upon practical approaches and issues for developing business in China, whereas Kynge’s writing seems to be more generalized in this sense.

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