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March 25, 2009 in The China Beat


Copyright March 25, 2009 Yu Zhou. Used by permission.


On March 18, 2009, the Chinese Commerce Ministry rejected Coca-Cola’s proposal to take over Huiyuan, the top juice maker in China. This deal was a closely watched one as an early test of China’s newly instated anti-monopoly law. The veto was greeted with dismay in the major western media and widely interpreted as a new signal of Chinese protectionism. The article in the Times and the editorial by Financial Times suggested that the Chinese government made decisions based on nationalistic considerations, rather than any sound economic or legal rationale. The rejection is thought to have far-reaching ramifications for foreign investment in China and Chinese acquisitions abroad.

I do not know how far-reaching the ownership of a bottle of juice can be. But secretly, I am glad about the collapse of this deal. Let me explain.

I have been living in America since 1989. But in 2000, I spent one year on sabbatical in Beijing with my six- and one-year-old children. One of my biggest challenges was to find a drink to suit their made-in-America tastes. This was especially a problem for the six-year-old since he had keen tastes and was uncompromising. Soda was out, as he had never touched it. It took me a frustrating month to find the right milk brand for him after what seemed an endless trail.