For almost fifteen years I’ve been following the fool’s errand of western companies trying to make money in China.
I went there myself a little more than a decade ago, and you could see how dangerous it was to western companies who are used to the rule of law, and the sanctity of contracts, and the idea of property rights, including intellectual property.
But here’s the thing: it’s impossible to succeed in China for a western company. At best, the Communist Party will skim away all of your profits. Your “business partners” in the Communist Party will take so much from you there’s nothing left. Or — they’ll just steal everything. Just all of it.
But look at this: Jack Ma is China’s richest man. Worth over $61 billion US. Great entrepreneur, great capitalist. Tech and finance and business. Just amazing. And his company, called Ant, as in the little bug, was about to have the world’s largest initial public offering.
It was set to be the world’s largest IPO. As in, it would raise more money than any deal in history. Put aside politics — wouldn’t you want to own the Chinese version of Amazon?
Let me read this from the Wall Street Journal:
Chinese President Xi Jinping personally made the decision to halt the initial public offering of Ant Group, which would have been the world's biggest, after controlling shareholder Jack Ma infuriated government leaders, according to Chinese officials with knowledge of the matter.
Here’s how Bloomberg described it:
Derailing of Jack Ma’s Ant IPO Shows Xi Jinping’s in Charge
They kneecapped their greatest entrepreneur, their greatest businessman, their start-up master, their wealth creator, they just threw him off a cliff, on the eve of his greatest achievement. Because they can. And they want everyone to know it.
Trouble is, it’s not just businesses who are getting skinned alive by Xi Jinping.
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