Opinion

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Rolls-Royce’s Chinese dream

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I recently retired as UK senior partner of BDO after 23 years as a partner with the firm. Last year, I took up a position as visiting professor at Xiamen University, China. My wife is Chinese and I decided to spend three months exploring business opportunities in the region and trying to learn some Mandarin.

I’m blogging about my experiences in China for Real Business – catch up on my journey so far (see “related articles” on the right-hand side).

Blog 49

Rolls-Royce’s Beijing dealership sold 223 cars last year, more than any other R-R dealership in the world. 

2012 is the Chinese Year of the Dragon and it is being marked by a special edition of RollsRoyces for China, with hand-painted dragon coachline inspired by the Forbidden City in Beijing; hand-embroidered dragon on the leather of every headrest; hand-laid dragon inlay on the passenger panel; and exclusive illuminated treadplates with “Year of the Dragon 2012” on the four door sills.  

The improbably-named Thomas G Jefferson, of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, says, “This limited edition car embodies the synergy of craftsmanship, creativity and culture in a manner that is uniquely Rolls-Royce.” 

A generation ago. It would have surely been beyond most people’s imagination that a brand like Rolls-Royce would have such a market in the People’s Republic of China.

Blog 50

An eight-storey high bronze statue of Mao Zedong has recently been erected in the world’s most-populated city, Chongqing. 

The Party chief there, Bo Xilai, is an ambitious politician (a “princeling”, his father was Mao’s finance minister) who trumpets Mao and encourages the communal singing of early PRC songs. 

There is an ideological struggle taking place in the Party between Maoist hardliners and more liberal, Western-facing politicians. Bo Xilai represents the former group and is tipped to be an increasingly important player over the next few years, albeit the next President and Prime Minister are more compromising individuals.

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