Business and Revolution
Chinese entrepreneurship may turn out to be a casualty of Beijing's suppression of the pro-democracy movement. Among those forced to flee China: Wan Runnan, cofounder and president of Beijing Stone Group Ltd., perhaps the country's leading entrepreneur. Wan and his company got into trouble with authorities for providing food, drink, and other supplies to demonstrators. Now, Wan's in even bigger trouble. In July he cofounded the Democratic China Front, dedicated to toppling the Communist regime by nonviolent means. That helped land him on the country's "most wanted" list of renegade intellectuals.
Meanwhile, the computer company Wan founded is struggling. Three Stone vice-presidents have gone into exile, and the company operates under the watchful eyes of 20 newly arrived government agents. According to company sources, the board has been reconstituted, morale is low, and sales have plummeted by more than 50% from a year ago. The government may keep Stone alive. "But the golden days of Stone -- and of Chinese entrepreneurship -- are over," says one insider, "at least for now."
-- Joel Kotkin