China analyst Shaun Rein, author of The War for China’s Wallet: Profiting from the New World Order, tells on the EM+BRACE “Mentorship Series” at LinkedIn why he hates some opinion leaders are called China experts without having actually inside knowledge of the country. And why media should be careful position somebody as a China expert.
The EM+BRACE “Mentor Series”:
Robert: You’re known for speaking up against analysts who have a bearish view on China, yet don’t know the country firsthand or understand the language. What would you say to those critics who contend that on-the-ground observers, such as you, are missing the forest from the trees?
Shaun: Look, my biggest problem against some of the bears are not their predictions or lack of understanding China. Rather, how can you call yourself a China expert, like Peter Navarro, Trump’s advisor, if you have not visited the country over the past ten years? Or even visited China once, like Jim Chanos, who has been calling for China’s economic implosion? I guess these folks are just carving out their niche and trying to get ahead like the rest of us.
What I greatly resent is the media for giving these analysts a microphone to talk. At some point, credibility and track record should count for something. How can you quote someone as a China expert who has never lived or barely lived in China? Who does not speak the language? Our media needs to be held to a higher standard. Take Gordon Chang who has predicted the collapse of China for twenty years. He has been wrong on just about every one of his predictions, yet he is constantly quoted by the media as a China expert. Lately, he has been the go-to talking head in the US on North Korea! Gordon is a nice guy frankly. He gives great sound bites and is just trying to get ahead. But the media should look at his track record and not go to him as an expert.
Robert: Shaun, did you have any mentors during your career. If so, who were/are they and what did you learn from them?
Shaun: I have been very, very lucky in having some great mentors over the years, ranging from Ambassador Nicholas Platt, to Harvard professor William Kirby, to venture capitalist Gregg Stone. They taught me so many things from how to treat people, take risks, and network, but perhaps what sticks the most is that they were willing to take the time to give me great advice despite being so busy while they were reaching the top of their respective fields.
They also taught me that it is important for me to mentor younger people as they did for me — my career never would have been so successful without them. Now it is my turn to give back.
Are you looking for more experts in dealing with your China risk? Do check out this list.