AS GM GOES, SO GOES CHINA

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TIME's William McWhirter says that a reported deal between General Motors Corp. and the Chinese government to build a GM plant in China has vast potential for huge auto sales in the largely untapped Chinese market. But, he adds, it also brings to light tremendous risks as the auto giant prepares to go into business with the unpredictable Chinese. "Remember, the Chinese still write their own trade laws," says McWhirter. "It is more than just putting up a car plant. This partnership will require GM to share a great deal of technological expertise. A real concern is that the Chinese will learn what they need to learn, and then show GM the door." An announcement could come as early as next week on GM's billion-dollar-plus joint venture with state-owned Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. to build midsize cars in China. Ford Motor Co. is also waiting for word that it will be given the green light to go ahead with a plant in China.