For years, China has been the great big dream for American multinationals, looking to tap into a new reservoir of potential growth.
But is it just a fantasy, something for executives to talk about to keep investors excited, and not much more?
Late last month there was a report of GE CEO Jeff Immelt complaining about Chinese leadership, and policies he perceived to be hurting his firm. His off-the-cuff remarks were somewhat denied by the company, but what the heck does that even mean?
In fact, as WSJ points out, GE is having a rough time in China. Mutliple JVs its pursued have gone nowhere. Its wind turbine business has been a flop. And it’s not dominating the country’s aerospace industry.
On the other hand, GE Medical is apparently doing well, and the company is hiring scads of new salesmen.
But really, there’s not much in the article to suggest that sysetmatic policy decisions on the part of Beijing are hurting the company. Rather it’s a tough market that has its own slew of internationally-competitive companies.
That’s the real story: Yes, it is a big, huge, tappable market, but there’s no orchard for Americans to waltz into and start picking from, which was perhaps the fantasy. Companies will have to compete hard like everyone else. 1 billion Chinese consumers are only part of the equation.
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