BEIJING — Generations of U.S. children have grown up with the simple slogan summarizing all things American: “Baseball, hotdogs, apple pie and Chevrolet.” That Chevy arguably is the most patriotic of U.S. auto brands undoubtedly represents an early stroke of marketing genius — one that General Motors Corp. long has been able to capitalize on. But “Chevrolet” carries no such cozy cachet in China. This lack of innate knowledge creates an uncommon obstacle for GM, which in December will ...

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