About Face

About Face

A Cautionary Tale to Anyone Doing Business in China

In the early 1980s, with the encouragement and mentorship of Dr. Armand Hammer, founder and Chairman of Occidental Petroleum Company, Carole Sumner Krechman and her husband, Sheldon Krechman, were presented with the opportunity to expand their U.S. roller rinks business into China. They excitedly pursued the opportunity—two innocents abroad in an exotic and unknown land. They eventually abandoned all hope of building a chain of roller rinks but through a convoluted series of events, became involved in a large and complicated joint venture with the Chinese to build a five-star, modern office and hotel complex and conference center in downtown Beijing—the first of its kind in China. Juxtaposed against the ancient world of Beijing, it was a towering beacon of light signifying a China that was stepping into the twentieth century.

Little did they know their joint venture would ensnare them in a dangerous web that included the most ruthless of China’s security agencies, the FBI, the CIA and a cast of characters who seem straight out of a Hollywood spy thriller. Their story is personal and full of real people. The security and espionage apparatus of the People’s Republic of China has a human face. In fact, the multiple meanings of the word “face” make it a useful metaphor for describing the reality of the People’s Republic.

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