The China Drive

As Washington prepares to vote on trade, GM finds profits in the Middle Kingdom

The Mickey Mouse jingle is sounding again at station 121R on the Shanghai General Motors assembly line. The procession of semiassembled cars and minivans halts, and workers start frantically pulling off an exhaust pipe from a blue minivan. Dennis Dougherty, GM's man in charge of manufacturing, is watching the process apprehensively from 50 yds. away. Blue-uniformed Chinese engineers come running to help. But Dougherty doesn't move. Two minutes later, Mickey Mouse stops, the line starts moving again...and Dougherty's expression relaxes.

"It is gut wrenching. There's something wrong, and your instinct is to jump in there and fix it," says the 48-year-old...

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