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A Rust Belt victim transforms himself into a successful China hand

HONG KONG — An Ohio man born and raised, Doug Smith, 54, never expected to do business in China. In his 20s and 30s he had worked for Midwestern manufacturers, and had his own machine shop by the early 2000s. But then came a downturn, and he had to shut it down. In need of work, when a former client asked him to help them set up a plant in the Middle Kingdom he said yes without hesitating. “Before I came to China, I knew nothing about it,” he said. “I was just like any manufacturer and was fat, dumb and happy.” Fast forward more than a decade: He has gone from victim of America’s decline to expert helping US manufacturers profit from globalization.

The serial tech entrepreneur

HONG KONG — For Richard Robinson, 46, there’s no question where the world’s most vibrant tech startup and entrepreneurial hub outside Silicon Valley is to be found — it’s in Beijing.

Seeking a fortune in China? Here’s how to parse triumph from debacle

HONG KONG — Next to America, China may well be Earth's most ruthlessly capitalistic economy. While the rules are radically different, many ordinary Americans have built great businesses in the Middle Kingdom, with seeming ease. A deft China hand explains tactics and traps. 

Why big American businesses fail in China

HONG KONG — If Tolstoy had written about foreign companies in China, he might have started like this: “Companies that succeed in China are all alike; every company that fails, fails in its own way.” Since China opened up in the late 1970s, some of America’s most powerful corporations have gone confidently into the People’s Republic, only to stagger out a few years later, battered, confused, and defeated. Here's why. 

A yankee in China: There's money in Beijing's filthy air

BEIJING — To woo clients, Will Latta, 43, used to spend three nights a week with coal barons from China’s inner provinces, drinking "baijiu" — a local grain liquor that tastes a lot like motor oil. “Eventually, I had to draw a line,” he said. “It was getting bad — hallucinations and things.” But it was all in the service of the long, patient game of building a company in an industry where China is truly driving global innovation: clean energy.
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