In China, ‘Cutthroat Capitalism’ Often Means Cutting Corners – David Barboza

Amid the recent controversy of tainted Chinese exports, David Barboza discusses the legacy of small businesses cutting corners to make a “fast buck.” From the International Herald Tribune:

They might be called China’s renegade business people: small entrepreneurs who are experts at counterfeiting and willing to go to extraordinary lengths to make a profit. But just how far out of the Chinese mainstream are they?…

In Taixing, a city far to the south, a small business cheated the system by substituting a cheap toxic chemical for food-grade syrup, triggering a mass poisoning in Panama. And in the eastern province of Anhui, a group of entrepreneurs concocted a fake formula for baby milk that killed dozens of rural children.

The incidents are the latest indications that cutting corners and producing is not just a legacy of China’s initial surge toward the free market three decades ago but is still woven into the fabric of the thriving Chinese industrial economy. It is driven by entrepreneurs who are taking advantage of a weak legal system, lax regulations and a business culture where bribery and corruption are rampant. [Full text]

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