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One Billion Customers

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One Billion Customers

Lessons from the Front Lines of Doing Business in China

Free Press,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Text available

What's inside?

Navigating the world of China without a guide could mean a fruitless journey, but a wise venture can be fruitful indeed.

Editorial Rating



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China has a reputation for vast complexity, but journalist James McGregor demystifies many of its modern business practices by placing them in their historical context and explaining why the Chinese view foreigners with such concern. He is extremely familiar with his subject, shares great material, and deftly describes his experiences and the nuances of Chinese society. He enlivens the stories in this well-organized book with great journalistic detail. Each chapter starts with a case study from history or business, followed by the author’s synthesis of the chapter’s main ideas. The chapters end with bullet precap crucial points. finds this historically grounded, practical book essential for anyone doing business in China. If you need to earn the trust of Chinese business colleagues or if you must determine whether you can trust them, read on.


Caveat Emptor

In recent years, China has become the target of the attention of the world’s largest corporations, all seeking access to its one billion potential customers. The country was already in transition in the early 1990s. At the time, its modern awakening posed a tremendous challenge to author James McGregor, then The Wall Street Journal’s executive in charge of building a media company in China. Deng Xiaoping, China’s leader from 1978 to 1989, had liberalized some aspects of daily life. Children were getting a better education, people were becoming wealthier and the country was gaining international recognition, but the Communist government was still firmly in control.

McGregor recognized that things were changing. He told his parent company, Dow Jones, to get ready because China’s economic reforms would make it the globe’s largest financial market. China was poised to be both "the world’s largest startup" and its "largest turnaround." After 2,000 years of imperial rule followed by a painful experience with communism, China was absorbing Western technology and know-how at a furious pace. It raced through economic stages that took decades in the West, charging...

About the Author

James McGregor, who speaks Mandarin, was The Wall Street Journal’s China bureau chief, chief executive of Dow Jones’ China operations in the 1990s, and a venture-capital investor during China’s boom. He chaired the American Chamber of Commerce in China and is the Senior China Advisor to Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide.

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