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Mr. China

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  1,307 ratings  ·  121 reviews
Mr. China tells the rollicking story of a young man who goes to China with the misguided notion that he will help bring the Chinese into the modern world, only to be schooled by the most resourceful and creative operators he would ever meet. Part memoir, part parable, Mr. China is one man's coming-of-age story where he learns to respect and admire the nation he sought to c ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published February 28th 2006 by Harper Business (first published January 1st 2004)
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Average rating 3.95  · 
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 ·  1,307 ratings  ·  121 reviews

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Dec 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business
I doubt I'll read a better business book this year. A cracking tale of a man trying to set up and invest in businesses in China, it reads sometimes like a drama, sometimes a soap opera, sometimes a comedy and sometimes a travelogue. It works on all these levels too. You can't help feel sorry for Clissold as he wrestles with business case situations that would be near impossible to control in the West never mind China, involving fraud, cheating, lying, shooting, rioting and cultural racism. The s ...more
Simon Kozlov
Dec 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
My new company does a lot of business with China (we're in manufacturing space), I asked what should I read to get the feeling of what's it like - this was the only recommendation so far.

Book is a memoir of an American businessman investing the first wave of Wall Street money into China in the 90s - just when China began to open up to the western world. Tim is obviously enamored with China but approaches it with the western business world view, failing and learning in the process.

First, they're
Dec 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Still very real for China
Will Tomsett
May 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating insight into doing business in China in the 1990s - and some great insights into modern Chinese culture and history (I had never heard of the Third Front campaign, for example). The end is is poignant but slightly abrupt - I wish it’d carried on for another hundred pages or so!
Jun 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Tim Clissold, businessman and China-aficionado aiming to strike it big in China, tells his own story of how he planned to help bring China into the modern world and at the same time make a fortune in investments in a rapidly-modernising Chinese economy. However, as he finds out is not all plain sailing; problems arise from the first day: language issues, corrupt managers, inefficient legal systems, impatient investors, poor planning, and a heart attack all challenge Clissold and yet he remains t ...more
Lifeng Wu
Mar 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
I grew up in China in the 70's. I relate to most of the experiences discussed in this book.

It's one of the most humorous English books I read about China.

I recommend it to all my friends who have some China experience.

A good narrative. A good account of China in a specific period. Author's style could have been more polished. But , well, he's an investment banker.

The author could have put in a few "success" stories. The three main stories on Madame Wu (Beijing), Chen HaiJing (HuBei), and final
Jun 10, 2013 rated it liked it
tried to resist reviewing this since I read it in '07, and then in bits and pieces, but with my review of "Big in China," figured I'd just jot down a few notes. this is a business book, contrary to the good reads entry description, but in contrast to the 70-80% of foreigners in asia who teach english, clissold was hired to get factories functioning, and so it embraces capitalism in its raw, chinese, polluting form.

not a bad work; has even a poignant moment or two towards the end as clissold refl
Kindall Palmer
Dec 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great read! This book touches on some of the most hidden and difficult aspects of doing business in China. From government corruption, to money laundering, to corporate drama, to innocent mistakes throughout the journey. Its interesting to watch $418,000,000 simply disappear all to be chalked up to good experience. The writing was brilliant, i felt just as stressed as the writer must have felt as he had these experiences himself! His resolutions to daily issues, insight on the Chinese culture, l ...more
Renata Stuhlberger
May 02, 2019 rated it liked it
If you are interested in China or in doing business in China, this is a must read. This book was recommended to me by one of my professors back in the time when I lived in Hong Kong.

It covers some fun (and not so fun) stories about doing business in China so its an interesting way about learning more about the Chinese business culture.

Tim Mortfenkov
Aug 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
A plain story, no insights at all. Probably I've known them all?
Peter Keller
Jan 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Solid read on doing business in China that I bought in a bookstore in the Hong Kong airport.

Not a business book- more of a memoir. Best description of Baijiu I ever read :)

My notes:

Mr. China
Tim Clissold

At the core, a deep sense of ‘Chinese-ness’ persists perhaps intensified by the recent successes; certainly, there are moments when if you push a deal too hard, this sense of nationhood may be offended and everything will be lost. Experience and study of these traditional ways of thinking can
Jackqueline Buenaflor
Feb 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: re
it tells a story of an entrepreneur who tried to venture into a place where the culture is completely different to the usual business practices. The book tells its readers that there is this China whose business practices is almost impenetrable. This book is a window that shows few of China's business practices. This book provides cultural aspects of china which may not have been familiar to those who hadn't had background knowledge as to how does they do business in china. Though I am not much ...more
Aug 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Despite being written well over a decade ago, Tim Clissold’s insight into the Chinese psyche and the modus operandi of the largest country on earth is perhaps more relevant than it has ever been. Although technically a memoir, the workings of component factories and breweries has never seemed more engrossing. These banal settings are enlivened by Clissold’s intricately crafted portraits of his partners and adversaries and by the last page it is clear that the adventure that has been captured in ...more
Paul Whitla
May 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A rollicking read of an Englishman working for a team of American investment bankers, buying up and trying to make profitable, Chinese companies and factories in the heartlands of China. Great character sketches of local officials, business-people and workers and some of the wild tales of what went down through the process are worthy of a thriller, though also often with a comic touch.

Re-reading this book some 15 years after it was first published though, it seems that this is a snapshot of a Ch
Yasser Sami
Nov 10, 2019 rated it liked it
I didn’t make a business in china but points in this book claim that china should be investment environment expeller why all of those money went to china why all of those progress we have seen on past 10 years why all of those multinational company went to build manufacturers there , do u know y ? Cause they are looking for more intensive labor environment they are looking for work more pay less environment they went for no system to gain mote money but they found people who grasp there knowledg ...more
Jul 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent “up close and personal” account of what it was like to invest in and work in China circa the mid 1990s. The author steered clear of any sort of detailed financial accounting (or terminology) to deliver a contextual look at the Chinese culture and the challenges for American businesses trying to do business there. Some of the stories are crazy enough that you will ask if you’re reading fiction at times, but I suspect that the accounts are fairly accurate based on my own limited study of ...more
Angela Lewis
Jul 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Eye opening account of doing business in Chinese factories. Communism has a lot to answer for - having lived in Beijing and now in Budapest, the results are not dissimilar - where everyone has work the workforce is comfortable and not concerned with production. There must be something about the shouting too. Also enjoyed the lesson on language and writing, having made some progress with study when there it is a joy to laugh again remembering some of the quirkiness. A very good read.
Erik Surewaard
Nov 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Entertaining read of an early mover (early nineties) in a private equity focussed on investing in Chinese private companies.

The storyline gives a good idea on how the investment targets (companies) were found. It also discusses the problems they experienced in some of the companies they invested in: without spoilers I can say that they experienced stunning situations at some of their companies.
Ton Nguyen
Jul 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
In this memoir the author describes his personal experiences on investing in China. From drinking liquor with high party officials to being intimated by workers on the shop floor. Most of it took place in the early nineties, when China first opened up to foreign direct investment. Clissold has a clear love for China despite the many setbacks he experienced.
Oct 14, 2019 added it
Very enjoyable chronicle of the author's experience helping run a series of joint ventures immediately after China opened up to foreign investment. Even if the scenarios are a bit dated, the characters will stick with you and the author's affection for China and its people is clear, even when he's being threatened by a room full of half-drunk workers.
Mike Thelen
Nov 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
I think if you do (or plan to do) business in China, this is a good read. At the time I read it, China was becoming a big portion of our business. It's written in a simple, almost novel-like, format (some may say it is a novel even).
Dennis Selinas
Feb 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great flavour of china but up to mid 2000s

Good story telling giving an idea of what China was like during 90s and early 2000s. Although much has changed since the book provides a flavour of how different China and the Chinese are and were from the western world.
Dave Calver
Oct 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
A fascinating insight into challenges faced by early investors in China.
Nov 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Love the anecdotes and stories, feel very much related with my personal experience, but it was worse back then… you couldn´t even rely on the banks!
Dawid Vuuren
Feb 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The author has a clear love for China. As a foreigner living in China I can identify with this book.
Tacey Van Der Biezen
Jul 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
You can really feel the emotions of the writer during the book!
Daan Van Kassel
Jan 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
THE book if you want to do business in China (or if you just want to enjoy a nice book about it)
Dec 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
A precautionary view on investing in China.
Philip Hanna
Feb 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book and very interesting to hear about the different business cultures from first hand experience.
Feb 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
By the third of three of the big stories anchoring the book I felt a bit worn out, but still a fascinating look at what it was like to do business in China as it was really opening up and booming.
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