First, respect where it’s due: Jack Perkowski founded Asimco, a multi-billion dollar automotive parts business, in China. When he talks about learning Chinese not being necessary for commercial success in China, he’s probably right — at very least, he’s an excellent case study in why that’s true.
Still, I get this feeling that he’s bought into the whole “Chinese is inscrutable” myth. He asks “What amount of effort would it take for me to get my Chinese up to a level where I could rely on it in business?” He’s been here since 1992 — 16 years. Relatively little sustained effort applied over the last decade and a half would most likely have sufficed.
I wonder, if he had known in 1992 where he’d be in 2008, if he would have started studying the language.