STEEP ENTRY COSTS. Foreign manufacturers of autos, telecom equipment, and computers dominate the increasingly buoyant domestic Chinese market. China "is allowing American companies to participate in its growth," says Mustafa Mohatarem, GM's chief economist. "That distinguishes it from Japan." Indeed, China now imports more than Japan, even though its economy is one-third of the size.
That doesn't mean China is an ideal trading partner. After getting off to an impressive start in meeting its commitments to the World Trade Organization, China's compliance has begun to flag. Foreign insurers can now sell