China's robust economy makes business success look easy. But the Asian country has rules, mores and costs that multinationals ignore at their peril, as Hewlett-Packard, Google and Yahoo painfully learned.
HP stumbled in China when it produced a line of faulty laptops and didn't fix them quickly enough. Google ran afoul of China's censors in a standoff that made international news and stopped the company's growth in China in its tracks. Yahoo relied on the parent company of Alibaba, China's eBay, to run its Chinese operations. But Yahoo's business and reputation have suffered in China because of trouble at Alibaba, which fired its chief executive and chief operating officer.
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