The World on Chinese Terms
Despite the Olympics next year and the World Expo in Shanghai two years later, there are signs that China is closing, not opening, to much of the world. Last year this became noticeable in the government's restrictive new mergers-and-acquisitions regulations, which made foreign investment next to impossible in key industries. The list of industries defined as being important to the national interest has grown to include ball-bearing manufacturers and meat-processing plants. Add to this trend the growing evidence discussed by the European Union and the U.S. that China is holding rather tightly to the word but quite loosely to the spirit of many of the World Trade Organization agreements. And executives who have worked in China for many years complain that working and negotiating with their joint-venture partners is becoming tougher; agreements made earlier are often retracted. Being old friends, lao pengyo, was supposed to make it easier, but instead it is more difficult.
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