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通用电气谈中国:合作胜过被晾在一边

《财富》 2011年10月10日

通用电气的高级副总裁莎琳•贝格丽承认,美中两国之间混乱的商业关系让公司非常沮丧。

    谈到美国大型跨国企业进军海外市场,通用电气(General Electric)高级副总裁莎琳•贝格丽在上周二总结称:如果不能打败对手,那么就加入他们的行列。

    通用电气的大部分业务在海外市场——有将近六成收益来自美国之外。虽然通用电气往往与美国制造业曾经的黄金时代联系在一起,但如今,该公司超过一半的员工是海外雇员。

    然而,通用电气庞大的海外基业来得并不容易,尤其是在中国。贝格丽出席了《财富》杂志(Fortune)在拉古那尼克举办的商界女强人峰会(Most Powerful Women's Summit),她在一次小组讨论会上称,在(中国)这个世界第二大经济体开展商业活动是一个缓慢而复杂的过程,需要应对来自地方政府方方面面的法规政策。

    贝格丽表示:“我们仍然对此非常沮丧。”

    贝格丽的看法与通用电气首席执行官杰夫•伊梅尔特不谋而合,后者去年在一次私人宴会上曾表示,中国对跨国公司的态度越来越不友好。《金融时报》(Financial Times)报道称,伊梅尔特说:“我真的很担心。说到底,我还是不能确定,中国政府是否希望跨国公司赢得胜利或是获得成功。”

    尽管关系复杂,但贝格丽还是认为,通用电气将与当地企业,尤其是中国企业的合作,视为获得全球性机遇的一条途径。今年初,通用电气宣布与中国合资,成立一家航空电子设备公司。不过此举遭致大量批评,许多人担心合作计划将迫使通用电气与中国分享技术和商业秘密,最终导致中国公司后来居上,超越美国合作伙伴。

    批评也许是对的,不过似乎合作的收益要大于可能的损失。就像贝格丽提到的,合作总比被晾在一边要好。

    If you can't beat them, join them. That's how General Electric Senior Vice President Charlene Begley Tuesday summed up the U.S. multinational conglomerate's motto when it comes to tapping into overseas markets.

    GE does most of its business abroad -- nearly 60% of the company's revenue comes from outside the U.S. And while GE is often associated with the good old days of U.S. manufacturing, more than half of its of employees today are abroad.

    But GE's vast international presence hasn't come easy -- especially in China. Speaking at a panel discussion at Fortune's Most Powerful Women's Summit in Laguna Niguel, Begley said doing business in the world's second-largest economy has often been a slow and complex process dealing with everything from local government regulations.

    "We are still incredibly frustrated," Begley said.

    Her remarks echo those of GE CEO Jeff Immelt, who last year mentioned during a private dinner with fellow businessmen that China was being hostile to multinational companies: "I really worry about China. In the end I am not sure they want any of us to win, or to be successful," he said, according to the Financial Times.

    However complicated the relationship, Begley says GE (GE) sees partnering with local companies, particularly in China, as one way to reach global opportunities. Earlier this year, it announced an avionics joint venture with China. The deal received plenty of banter from critics, who say it could force GE to share technology and trade secrets that might eventually position Chinese companies to outperform their U.S. partners.

    The critics could be right, but it seems as though the benefits may outweight the costs. As Begley says, partnering up is better than being left out.

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