In this updated, paperback version of BEIJING JEEP, journalist Jim Mann traces the history of the stormy relationship between American business and Chinese communism through the experiences of American Motors and its operation in China, Beijing Jeep, a closely watched joint venture often visited by American politicians and Chinese leaders.
User Ratings and Reviews
4 Stars Still Relevant
Read the book when it was first published in 1989. Today it is an interesting historical note on Chinese joint business practices. Things have changed greatly in China in the past 18 years. The Chinese have evolved greatly in their international business practices, but the intent of Chinese business has not changed. Chinese business still intends to use American business technology for the good of China without the interference of US industry. The content of the book is history, but do not take the message as history. A necessary read for anyone interested in Chinese business.
4 Stars Now more of a history book then a business book…
Great book, great story, but not necessarily applicable to today.
4 Stars Must-read for China-bound business execs
This is a very good account of the difficulties AMC encountered in trying to set up the first automobile-manufacturing joint venture in China. In fact, these were the same difficulties many other American businesses ran into in the 1980s, when everyone was eager to get into the Chinese market. I think the same problems remain today. In fact, the Chinese bureaucracy is 10 times more corrupt (in more than one incident the first thing visiting Chinese officials to the U.S. ask of their American hosts is “where is the brothel with blonde girls?”) and the Chinese people more anti-Western than in the 1980s. The BJ Jeep story is not outdated. Every business exec who thinks of doing business in China must read this book, not some sugarcoated account of how great China is. I grew up in China in the 80s and witnessed the economic revolution firsthand. What pained me the most, even as a teenager, was how corrupt the Chinese society and government was becoming. Red envelopes — the venue for bribery — were becoming commonplace, and demanded by every level of bureaucrats with any degree of power. My recent return trips to China confirmed that the situation had not improved at all but worsened. Busisiness negotiations are a nightmare with the mainland Chinese. The book has a very interesting discussion in the beginning about how overseas Chinese are so efficient while the mainlanders are both inefficient, greedy, and inept. Trust me, all these are still true today.
From my point of view, China is not a market every American business should or must enter. Most foreign companies that have joint ventures do *NOT* make money in China and will probably not do so in the foreseeable future. The only ones that made a lot of money were the Japanese, who flooded (as told in the book) the Chinese market in the 80s with cheap, good consumer goods that the mainland Chinese hadn’t seen. Nowadays it’s more difficult as China’s own companies are getting competitive as well as people are no longer held in awe by Western-style products. What this book teaches, then, is how to keep your expectations low if you want to do business in China, as well as how to avoid some of the common mistakes American executives tend to make, such as assuming the efficiency of the Chinese system or presuming the chain of command. This book will serve as an excellent reminder that mainland China is still many, many years behind the West in both management style, operational efficiency, and cultural honesty.
4 Stars Interesting Read
A well writen book. Easy to read. But it is out of date and one has to be careful not to generalize the findings which were based on experiences of the first joint ventures in China some twenty years ago.
5 Stars Involving Story of Globalization Glitches
This book is absolutely required reading for anyone contemplating any business venture or involvement in China. We also recommend it warmly to any student of contemporary Chinese history or global business. Author Jim Mann does an exceptional job of telling the harrowing story of a high-stakes joint venture that developed when American Motors set out to manufacture Jeeps in China. The battle lines were quite clear, and this “joint” venture proved to be quite a skirmish. The partners’ expectations could not have been more different. Far from being a collaboration, Beijing Jeep was a contest in which the parties used deception, subterfuge and obfuscation to wrestle for what they wanted, while giving away as little as possible. The Chinese sought access to modern automotive technology and foreign exchange. The Americans chiefly wanted to sell to China’s vast domestic market and to use low-cost Chinese labor in their supply chain. Beijing Jeep depended upon ongoing Chinese subsidies until Chrysler acquired AMC. This account effectively ends with that acquisition and with the Tiananmen uprising shortly thereafter, although the author added an updated epilogue. This Jeep’s rough road offers critical lessons about driving business in China.