Canadian businesses are being screwed from behind by the Chinese.
There’s a good article in last week’s Maclean’s magazine (Canada’s news magazine: Jan. 29, 2007). It’s aptly titled “How to lose your shirt in China“…with a tagline – Getting burnt in China. The article documents the sad saga of a Canadian pharmaceutical company, among others, how it went from being a $60- $70 million capitalized company down to a paltry $2 million after being screwed by the Chinese. And it wasn’t just the Canadians the Chinese are wholesale screwing… they’re doing it to all nations, it’s just that Canadians are the preferred victim of choice. According to the magazine article, “Canadians aren’t seasoned global traders”, and “their cautious, trusting nature is in sharp contrast to Chinese culture, where the word for honest, loashi, is a derogatory term meaning to be gullible or to follow blindly”.
This article is bang on.
Canadians are foolish.
I’ve been on trade missions, and have watched how starry eyed colleagues gush and orgasm at every perceived and potential opportunity. They literally drop their pants at every hint of the phrase, “I have a friend who can help you“.
A former business partner was the poster boy for the naive businessman.
I remember the day he came screaming into the office saying that “we’ve scored a major contact in China!” His proof was an unsolicited email from some person claiming to be an insider from China… The “proof” my starry eyed business pant wetter had was that the email “originated in China” on a Chinese email account.
uh… what was that famous P.T. Barnum saying?
There’s a sucker born every minute.
One of the key problems I see is the reliance of many Canadian businesses on the go-between or “middle” person. This is the individual who makes the intro and makes all the unsubstantiated claims.
The Maclean’s article mentioned that in one Canadian company’s effort, the point person in China was a friend of a friend of a company employee whose only credentials was the person’s ability to speak English.
The article sums up nicely all the stories of horror by many Canadian businesses being ripped off and screwed. It’s like a who’s who of Canadian (and multi-national) companies: the Royal Bank, General Motors, LG Electronics, Altachem, Sammies, and many, many others.
According to the article:
Doing business in China is a bit like the country’s chaotic traffic; cars regularly ignore lights and lanes an heedlessly plow through throngs of pedestrians. Yet if you get run over, it’s your fault because even if you think you have the right of way you would be stupid not to realize that a car can kill you. In the same way, many Canadian companies have only themselves to blame when they get mowed down because they blindly adhere to traffic signals that bare little resemblance to the reality on the ground.
And as former Canadian ambassador Howard Balloch states, ” Canadians…suspend good judgement when dealing with China is absolutely outstanding.”
And Beijing based Canadian business consultant John Gruetzner agrees, “You can talk about Candians being screwed in China, but you can also see Canadians screwing themselves for not understanding the market.”
Finally, we’d would like to impart this thought…
Canada opens our door to these sorts of people (Chinese and other nationalities) to invest and become new citizens in our great nation. And along with their money, some of these new immigrant investors bring along their value systems, or lack thereof it.