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October 12, 1999

New Chief Hopes to Globalize China’s TCL

By CBR Staff Writer

One of China’s top consumer electronics manufacturers, the TCL Group, is spinning off an information technology company and has hired the former Greater China head of Microsoft Corp to run it. To head a Chinese company, I feel prouder and more excited than during my 14 years with IBM and Microsoft, said Wu Shihong. Now I can lead this company into the world market.

The new company, TCL Information Technology Group, will take over management of the IT products TCL started to make two years ago including personal computers, network systems, software, television internet boxes and cable modems.

It will immediately get a leg up from the government and an official from the Ministry of Information Industry said authorities will provide preferential treatment. It is the right time to move into IT, the company has proved it can do well in competitive products and it had hired a talented chief in Ms Wu, he said.

The ministry is targeting TCL as one of a handful of domestic firms the government is trying to develop into Fortune 500 companies with global brandnames. Others are top computer maker the Legend Group, TV and telecoms equipment manufacturer Konka Group and home appliance maker Haier Group.

Wu appears to have the drive to make it happen. Partially Han Chinese and partially Mongol and Manchu – not a recipe for success in China – she received a modest education and worked as a nurse in a Beijing hospital. After teaching herself English, she went to work as a clerk in IBM’s Beijing office in 1985. She moved through the ranks to become head of the US firm’s China sales force before taking over as general manager of Microsoft (China) in 1997.

She left Microsoft a few months ago and spent three months writing a book about her 14 years with the two US firms. I was not looking for a job but received many offers, including from foreign firms. Then I was approached by TCL and we found that we had the same target, to make a product known round the world, she said.

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