It's been a rough week for eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) in China. The head of eBay's Chinese auction site has left the company. There was also a report in the country's 21st Century Business Herald claiming that eBay was looking to cash out of the market by selling its EachNet and PayPal China businesses to TOM Online (NASDAQ:TOMO).

If eBay does retreat, it wouldn't be the first time. The company bowed out of Japan after Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO) emerged as the market leader in auctions in that country.

There is an investing lesson here for stateside investors who make the flawed assumption that if something works here, it can be easily ported elsewhere. Sometimes you need to check your patriotic zeal at the door. Just ask Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT), which has bowed out of both Germany and South Korea in light of heavy local competition.

The same Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) that has been ripping North American rivals to shreds has found itself losing market share over the past year in China to the more popular (NASDAQ:BIDU).

From retail to online gaming, China is proving to be a tough market to crack for cocky outsiders who figured breaking into the world's most populous region would be a cakewalk.

As eBay is letting us all know, that is simply not the case. Even if the article proves bogus and all we have confirmed is a defection at the top, this can't be the way eBay scripted this.

At the other end of the world, a "Buy It Now" button is gradually morphing into a "Sell It Now" headstone.

eBay , Yahoo!, and TOM Online are recommended investments in the Motley Fool Stock Advisor newsletter service. Wal-Mart is an Inside Value selection.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz wouldn't mind brushing up on his Mandarin, especially given the booming economy in a country that is 1.3 billion residents strong. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. Rick does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. T he Fool has a disclosure policy.