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Mr. China

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  1,444 ratings  ·  129 reviews
Reveals the story of a tough Wall Street banker who had reached the top and found that it wasn't enough. This book shows how he was looking for glory, and came to China to surf the investment wave and teamed up with an ex-Red Guard and an Englishman living in Beijing. It talks about their struggle which reveals the human face of this country. ...more
Published April 1st 2004 by Constable & Robinson (first published January 1st 2004)
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Average rating 3.95  · 
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Dec 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 10, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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!
Jul 29, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great read ! reads itself like an adventure novel with great characters, plots and arcs. Has also some interesting bits about Chinese history.
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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  ·  review of another edition
A plain story, no insights at all. Probably I've known them all? ...more
Peter Keller
Jan 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Justin Goldman
Sep 09, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This work from Mr. Clissold, a British businessman, captures a series of events as he joined forces with a Wall Street banker in the early 1990s who was determined to connect capital to investment opportunity in China as the country began opening up to foreign investment and some privatization of state-owned enterprises was taking place. Published in 2005, the majority of the events chronicled take place between 1995-2002 as their venture soon owned shares in several businesses and Mr. Clissold ...more
Jackqueline Buenaflor
Feb 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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
John Fullerton
Hugely entertaining, funny and informative - and this is extraordinarily rare - a series of very human, personal portraits and stories of people living in the interior of Communist China. We see Chinese exceptionalism at work as the author and his Wall Street colleagues try to set up joint ventures with factory owners, private and state-owned, sometimes with disastrous misunderstandings and huge financial losses, in the wake of Deng Xiaoping's 'southern tour' aimed at opening the county up to We ...more
Jan 27, 2022 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a good, if slightly unfocused, read. I read his second book Chinese Rules: Mao's Dog, Deng's Cat, and Five Timeless Lessons from the Front Lines in China before this, which is in my opinion much better.

This is a story of how difficult joint ventures in China were during the 1990s. Its all very interesting but just so long winded at times.

I'm still glad I read it!
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
Anne S.
This book described the problems encountered when US investors started working with Chinese companies when the country opened up in the 1990's. The difference in the cultures became quickly apparent. It was an interesting look into how the Chinese do business. However, I sometimes had trouble following the ins and outs of situations.
At the end of the book the author talks about how much changed in China in the 10 years after they first started investing, mostly for the better. Since that was 10
Angela Lewis
Jul 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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.
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. ...more
Tab Williams
A story about investing in China in the very early days of Mao. Walks through 3 problematic JVs. A wild-west story and how hard it was investing and making money in the early days. Read it to get a perspective of the Chinese culture, but I came away disappointed and cannot help that much has changed since this time. The story also drags a bit.

Recommendation from A. Snyder.
Mike Thelen
Nov 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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). ...more
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.
Apr 04, 2022 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It’s an interesting cautionary tale. Maybe it was meant as such since the author really didn’t bother to share much about his personal life and family for us to care about him at all. Felt almost like business cases for study..
Dave Calver
Oct 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating insight into challenges faced by early investors in China.
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