Dispatches from China

‘Today, it seems to be China’s turn’

‘Today, it seems to be China’s turn’

China is endlessly fascinated by the West’s economic success. It accounts for the deference one receives as a Western foreigner and the herds of Chinese students studying finance both in China and abroad.

It does not seem to matter that most Westerners in China are as knowledgeable about finance as they are the intricacies of particle physics, or the fact that most Chinese finance majors are working as bank tellers.

It is both our curse and blessing that, as humans, we are able to rationalize irrational beliefs and actions. Sisyphus was condemned to push a stone up a hill only to have it roll back and crush him; many of us, individually and collectively, seem to do this as a sport.

What has this to do with anything?

I recently ran into a European who, on their first visit to China, was about to sign a joint venture deal. They had miraculously run into a wonderful Chinese partner whose goal seemed to be to share their good fortune with them. The joint venture was to act as a broker on behalf of hundreds of Chinese businesses who were intent on selling/buying businesses abroad. They made a point of announcing their good fortune to an assembled multitude of people. You could palpably feel the shrugs and quizzical gazes of those within ear shot. The individual in question might have been surprised that no one asked them any follow-up questions, or seemed to be at all interested in newly announced Klondike, but it did not seem to dampen their enthusiasm.

These, as they say, are the “days of our lives.” In the past, I might have said something about making sure they had a good translator and did their due diligence, but those days have gone by. Far too often, the reaction has been either indifference or a long rationalization on how they see this “great opportunity.”

Read more here in the latest issue of BizTimes Milwaukee.

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