They may be the exception rather than the norm, but China clearly is capable of producing companies that buck the global trends. Air China is one such enterprise. After losing CNY9.37 billion in 2008, it earned CNY4.8 billion in 2009—during a period when airlines collectively lost $9.9 billion—and a record CNY12.34 billion ($1.89 billion) in 2010. It also became the world’s most valuable carrier with an estimated market capitalization of $20 billion at the end of the ...

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