2000 Days in China; 1998 – 2009 A Western Experience

John Hemingsen; published by virtualbookworm.com

Reviewed by Graham Mulligan

This book is a personal account of the author’s business dealings over a ten year period. The author was a senior executive with an American steel fabricating company that decided to take up a Chinese invitation to engage in making product in China at an early stage of the Reform and Opening period. The insider description of the SOE (State Owned Enterprise) system, and the JV (Joint Venture) system as it operated in those early days is helpful in understanding what it was like before the popular press in the West noticed China’s Rise. The writing style, unfortunately, is more like a logbook of a traveler’s journey. In fact that is what Hemingsen did, travel back and forth between N.America and China many times, staying in the only 5 star hotel in the Taiyuan city where his company operated the JV. His wife accompanied him occasionally and her travel notes are included, always in italic, just in case the reader didn’t notice the different authorial voice.

In a humanitarian-kind of gesture Hemingsen did engage personally with a number of hosting families and made some good connections with some young Chinese students eager to practice their English. He even helped some of them get visas to visit him in Canada, where he now lives.

Descriptions of rough travel, and banquet drinking bouts are of some interest especially for the reader who has managed to get away from the big over-managed tour groups that Westerners usually experience in China.

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