BBC BLOGS - Peston's Picks
« Previous | Main | Next »

China's manor, China's rules

Robert Peston | 10:51 UK time, Monday, 29 March 2010

Here's a possible plot for episode 7 of an epic in the style of Star Wars.

The ageing democratic western Federation, weakened by decadent excessive consumption on borrowed money, sells crown-jewel assets to a reviving eastern super-power - which imperiously demonstrates where the power in the galaxy lies by arresting and imprisoning a quartet of Federation representatives on charges of corruption.

Stormtroopers

If it sounds a tad familiar, it may be because you've been reading the business wires this morning.

Overnight we had formal confirmation that Ford Motor is selling the totemic Swedish car manufacturer, Volvo - intellectual property and all - to Geely of China for £1.2bn.

And this morning a Shanghai Court ruled that four employees of the Anglo-Australian mining giant, Rio Tinto, were guilty of taking bribes and obtaining commercial secrets. One Australian Rio staff-member and three Chinese nationals were sentenced to prison, for stretches ranging from seven to 14 years.

What do these incidents show? Well I've said before (and you'll know anyway) they are redolent of the most significant shift in power - from west to east, and more particularly from the US to China - that has been seen since the demise of the former Soviet Union two decades ago left America as a lonely economic and political titan.

Some will say that the Rio Four are being punished for little worse than doing their jobs.

Rio has today stated that's not the case. The legal process in China may not be wholly transparent, but Rio is persuaded that that the four breached its code of conduct by taking bribes and it has therefore dismissed them.

They're on their own, and won't be supported by Rio if they appeal their sentences.

Does it need pointing out that China is Rio's most important market by a country mile?

What about the industrial espionage charges? Well here is what Rio says about those:

"Rio Tinto is unable to comment on the charge regarding obtaining commercial secrets as it has not had the opportunity to consider the evidence. That part of the trial was held in closed court and no details of the case were made public until the verdicts and sentences were announced today."

Hmm.

Experts on Chinese law say the real problem here for Rio and for other companies with significant ambitions to win business in China is that what counts as an industrial secret in China would be considered unremarkable market intelligence in the UK or US.

Which takes us to the nub of the matter.

Indebted, overstretched companies like Ford are attempting to rehabilitate themselves by selling assets to the likes of China.

And almost any mainstream politician will tell you that if we're going to escape our economic malaise here in the UK and the US, we have to sell more to the Chinese and rely less on credit indirectly provided to us by China: we have to export more, consume less and reduce our indebtedness.

Obi WanBut China has made it absolutely clear that if we want to play on their manor, we play by their rules. And these are not rules that are necessarily consistent with western ideals of fair play and free trade (although for the avoidance of doubt, I'm not remotely suggesting that it's a fundamental western freedom to pay or receive bribes).

So just where is Obi Wan when you need him?

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    "the most significant shift in power - from east to west"

    Errr. Surely you mean from WEST to EAST.

  • Comment number 2.

    New markets, new rules!
    Is this the start of a major change in the world? I think so and the start was years ago and we all missed it.
    Time for a major rethink of our status in the world.

  • Comment number 3.

    Proverbs 22:7 The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.

    Solomon had this figured out thousands of years ago, and in what passes for modern wisdom we thought it didn't apply to us. After all, we're "the West" and we've got all the clever economic models (which, mostly, assume that anything "the West" does with other parties within "the West" is right and carries little if any risk) while "the East" is that backward area that doesn't really know how anything works (with the exception of Japan which although "East" is considered to be "West").

    So now the chickens come home to roost and those backward Easterners who lent us untold hundreds of billions of pounds and dollars decide they'd really like to have a bit more say in how the game is played. And "the West" suddenly sits up as if we really didn't see that one coming.

  • Comment number 4.

    Our Banker friends would do well to remember this when threatening to take their expertise elsewhere.If they had done to a bank in China what they have done to the banks here they wouldnt be worrying about protecting their bonus's.

  • Comment number 5.

    Maybe China (and India) are developing into the main economic super powers because they got the highest populations in the world (in excess of a billion each)

    Midyear estimates of the resident population

  • Comment number 6.

    Shame on Rio Tinto!

    To sell out and condemn four employees who were doing their job is a gutless and deplorable act.

    Money talks and for Rio Tinto, a company with no morality to its staff, this is all important. The Australian Government is also as limp-wristed as ever.

    Let this be a warning to all western companies operating in China, especially those Chinese who are citizens of other countries. To the People's republic, you will always be a citizen and hence you will pay.

  • Comment number 7.

    Re 1st Comment. West and East were traditional political blocks. But geographically LA is to the east of Shanghai.
    Maybe we need to come to the realisation that all the key political and economic action is now on the other side of the globe. Directions are reversed. And it is Europe and the UK that are of lesser global consequence.

  • Comment number 8.

    #1 Alan

    Robert may well be playing on the Oz connection and the US power base, hence the East to West..

    ... he's being geograpically pedantic :)

  • Comment number 9.

    Sorry but Robert you are paranoid. Now I hold no candle for China but I am fairly sure most countries have their own things known as "rules" although us mere plebs normally refer to them as laws.

    Each country has its own laws and if you want to operate in that country you have to obey the laws.

    As for the RTZ, evn in UK we have laws against bribery. And of course UK companies have often bought foreign companies.

  • Comment number 10.

    It seems to me, on the evidence we have to date, that Rio is right on the money. If an employee of any company in the West takes a bribe and it is reported they are usually dismissed. What is the difference if this happens in the East. Not only are the culprits dismissed they are also jailed. That is the law. Most senior people working in international companies understand this but some are still prepared to take a risk.

    Comment from #6 - Rio have stood by their employees until they were found guilty of a crime that they admitted to. Likewise the Australian Government. Nothing limp-wristed or immoral about that.

    Companies and individuals should be aware of the laws and there responsibilities in China. There are always going to be problem occurring especial between people of different cultures and customs. Good leaders understand this and operate within the rules.

    It's a sad day when commentators try to defend criminality.

  • Comment number 11.

    It appears that no one disputes that bribes were accepted, then what is the problem in the culprits being brought to book? Some may cry at the sentences, but maybe it should act as a deterrant.

    It is not unreasonable that we should respect other peoples ways and customs, surely western businesses and culture would regard bribery as wrong and illegal? As to that of industrial espionage being regarded as market intellegence in the west, surely this would have to be tested in court, we would object if another country tried to intervene in our courts. we should accept if we want to work in another country to try and understand and live by their rules.

    The west has been living beyond our means for some time, beggars can't be choosers, we need to learn to live within our means again. Perhaps here in Britian we should start manufacturing things the world wants and needs again, instead of relying on the smoke and mirrors of the financial wizards.

    perhaps the comparison with that of George Orwell's 1984 would be more appropriate than starwars, Starwars was more about good v evil. Where as 1984 was about power and control.

  • Comment number 12.

    "But China has made it absolutely clear that if we want to play on their manor, we play by their rules. And these are not rules that are necessarily consistent with western ideals of fair play and free trade "


    I would agree with this, Our SME firm supplied goods on a credit arrangement, and the firm in Beijing, promptly disappeared from view and failed to answer any communications, and didn't pay their bill.

    This was all the more surprising since they made the effort to come over and visit us in the UK, "to build a relationship". We fell for it hook line & sinker. Next time No Credit.

  • Comment number 13.

    Mr. Peston conveniently left out the other part of Rio's statement, saying the evidence it had reviewed in relation to the bribery charges pointed to "deplorable" conduct that was "at odds" with its ethical culture. "We have been informed of the clear evidence presented in court that showed beyond doubt that the four convicted employees had accepted bribes,"

    I think it's important to be fair and balanced. Regarding anything related to China, I have always found many Westerners tend to make judgement from perception and pre-assumptions, or worse, with bigotry and sound bites.

  • Comment number 14.

    There is a question here regarding rules and whether they have any connection to justice or it is merely expedient to invoke them sometimes.

    One of the reasons China does so much trade with Africa now is because it will deal with any regime regardless of its level of corruption or human rights record. Some African countries that China works very closely with have a less than perfect record on bribery and corruption and it is hard to believe that Chinese companies operate there without oiling the wheels a little. Would that not mean double standards?

    There is also the question of the level of corruption in China itself is it not also high there? If RTZ or any other firm were tendering in the UK or US would they have offered the same bribes? Why did they offer these bribes in the first place if it was not common practice? They would have been taking a huge and uneccessary risk. RTZ may not be renowned as ethical paragons but neither are they noted for being stupid or reckless.

  • Comment number 15.

    It's an inescapable consequence of a structural trade deficit. Pound for pound, year after year, the balance of payments dictates that an amount equal to the trade deficit flows back into the UK and other western countries as loans or payment for assets such as Volvo.

    For a while this stokes up a credit bubble, first in household and business lending, then collateral values collapse and the government takes on the role as "credit sponge" of last resort, soaking up the wall of money until saturation is reached. At this point the economy's own ability to produce tax revenue enough to service the debt is questionable, and even this last option for channeling pounds back to the UK is shut off.

    What happens then? Either the exchange rate needs to move drastically to rebalance the trade, and/or interest rates need to move to compensate for the risk of lending even more to an already saturated economy.

    And guess what, no amount of discount sterling is going to make the UK stop importing and start exporting overnight. For that, investment is needed. And it is only available from abroad. So prepare for more direct foreign investment into export (or import substituting) industries. Prepare for much higher interest rates, and lower exchange rates.

    And when someone keeps talking about "the recovery" as something that is bound to happen sooner or later, don't be so sure. What was considered normal 2-3 years ago was in fact an entirely unsustainable state of affairs.

  • Comment number 16.

    It was inevitable that this would happen as the Western world plays by its intricate rules and regulations which tie both hands behind its back when dealing with China.

    Just compare it to a football game where one side abides by the rules and the other side doesn't have any. No contest!

  • Comment number 17.

    Good blog Robert.

    This slip of power from West to East has been happening for a while now with the East (if I include the Middle) sitting on large piles of money (for different reasons, oil, consumer goods) while the West either spent it like it was going out of fashion or made funny things with it that turned out to make no sense to even themselves (asset-backed securities where the vast proportion of people would always be able to payback their debt). China for example had been buying up plenty of things pre-credit crunch, the only difference is that the price is cheaper now.

    The main difference in my view with China, is that they are now fully aware of their position and are very willing to play it out in the way they see fit. Can't blame them for that, its not like any other major super-power of its time hasn't tried to do so. The dragon has awoken from its slumber.

    The problem for the next 5, 10 years, maybe even longer, is that there will inevitably be clashes along the way due to the differing ideologies and there will be many cases where what is regarded as not being fair in the West, will not be seen as a problem in the East. And much like the human rights issue, where the West would be told to go spin by China, China will have no hesitation in giving the same message on economic affairs. The difference now is that rather than agreeing to disagree on issues before, the West will in all likelihood have to go along with economic issues with China (human rights issues will still be the usual go spin, ok we raised it and have to show we raised it stance). A market of over 1 billion people can not be ignored, particularly if your competitors are willing to play by the ocassionally somewhat unclear rules.

    Interesting times ahead indeed me thinks.

  • Comment number 18.

    In the end it is India with a more transparent legal, financial and political system that will the main beneficiary of the move from west to east.

  • Comment number 19.

    # 1. At 11:42am on 29 Mar 2010, Alan wrote:

    >> "the most significant shift in power - from east to west"

    > Errr. Surely you mean from WEST to EAST.

    You are both wrong. East and west are directions, not places.
    Wind (or power) can flow either east or west and still get
    to the same place.

    The real trend is from the Atlantic to the Pacific Rim. When you
    live in, say, Long Beach or Vancouver, the power seems to be flowing
    west on an endless stream of container vessels.

  • Comment number 20.

    Let us not forget the Chinese do not rely on a MPC for their economic management. There appears to be not contradiction between a command and control economy and private enterprise - not that I would wish to live under that system.

  • Comment number 21.

    12. At 12:52pm on 29 Mar 2010, PaulattheRocks wrote:

    "But China has made it absolutely clear that if we want to play on their manor, we play by their rules. And these are not rules that are necessarily consistent with western ideals of fair play and free trade "


    I would agree with this, Our SME firm supplied goods on a credit arrangement, and the firm in Beijing, promptly disappeared from view and failed to answer any communications, and didn't pay their bill.

    This was all the more surprising since they made the effort to come over and visit us in the UK, "to build a relationship". We fell for it hook line & sinker. Next time No Credit.
    --------
    Paul, as a former bank employee in Trade Services, I would suggest that you request any overseas customer to establish a documentary credit, payable in the UK, in your favour through their bank. You would then look to the UK advising bank to pay you on presentation of complying documents. Supply of goods is only made once the documentary credit is received and you are satisfied with the terms and conditions laid out in it.

  • Comment number 22.

    A bit like a re-run of Suez 1956 when the colonial powers were told their tenure of their colonies was over,the US and the West have dictated what the rest of the of the world received for their labours which was not a lot due to the undermining of bona fide elected goverments and the support and bribing of corrupt regimes this is still going on but the major players like China are not having it so it seems but only time will tell if it continues

  • Comment number 23.

    #7 Barry :: depending on how pedantic you want to be about it (and I'm putting myself up for a man-of-the-match here), you could argue that West Shanghai is actually to the East of Central Shanghai: it just depends on how far round the globe you want to go.

    I think the point #1 Alan was trying to make is that we classically divide the world into conventionally-classified units that we all accept, so East typically refers to "Eastern" societies in Asia whilst West refers to the "Western" societies of Europe and the US. Similarly, you could argue that the left and right of the house are reversed if you face the door rather than the speaker's chair, and the traditional way we view the globe with the Artic at the top is meaningless.

  • Comment number 24.

    So Mr Peston,
    Not in a hurry to visit China then? I have to concur with some of the comments above in that in that:
    a) China do not always do things the way that us Brits would, i.e. BAe got a tap on the wrist and a big fine, whereas the Rio 4 have had fairly harsh custodial services. Would have been interesting to see how Fred the Shred would have been dealt with...
    b) China are increasing their presence in Africa massively. Sometimes with the blessing of the citizens, sometimes not, it depends on the wealth and living conditions of the local population & the jobs.
    c) Robert didn't finish Rio's statement as already pointed out - difficult one as the 4 individuals pleaded guilty.
    d) Britain has massive debts, either some group of people come up with a plan and get into Government (probably not in that order) and we have some difficult times ahead or at some stage we have anotehr melt down and end up waiting on overseas tourists as they flood the English Riviera, Blackpool and Skegness. Investment into the right industry, agriculture and education is my book is vital to develop something to export to offset our imports. As many point out here and on Mrs Flanders's blog we could do with knowing where the parties stand before the election - the prob being a lot of people do not think we've a problem yet as footballers are still being paid and the latest DIY celebs are all over the papers - yet the Independent was sold for less than a copy costs at the weekend.

  • Comment number 25.

    The Chinese Way of Doing Things, makes business dealings difficult as bribes are usually involved. The Chinese government has been trying to change this culture but when something is that much a part of a culture it is difficult. Like coffee replacing tea in the UK. As China embarks on individual freedom by way of vehicles they do so just as the price of gasoline will be ever increasing and the automobile as it has been known is about to change. China may be buying last year's fashions.
    There is a difference in China between being sentenced and how much time will be served. These are business deals.
    It is the West that has political instability and therefore while these idological contests continue the East will consolidate and implement strategies for economic recovery and changes in production. The West is caught in a strangle hold by big business and banking interest and will fall behind while the politics maintain the status quo rather than move to new economic models. The East is only acquiring what could be taken anyway.

  • Comment number 26.

    "But China has made it absolutely clear that if we want to play on their manor, we play by their rules. And these are not rules that are necessarily consistent with western ideals of fair play and free trade"

    So the Chinese are cheats and swindlers? Isn't that a bit of a generalisation Peston? Also, the way you write this implies that the Chinese have done something wrong on cracking down on bribery and corruption as stipulated by their own law.

    This blog post is pathetic... must do better

  • Comment number 27.

    #19 The real trend is from the Atlantic to the Pacific Rim. When you
    live in, say, Long Beach or Vancouver, the power seems to be flowing
    west on an endless stream of container vessels.


    Ironically as the power flows from Atlantic to the Pac Rim - the flow of the endless container vessels are INTO Long Beach, packed with cheap Chinese manufactured goods.

    Surely the solution to this imbalance is blindingly obvious - we just need to stop buying their goods.

  • Comment number 28.

    Wasn't it foretold that before the World was destroyed it would be ruled by yellow people?

    First (with apologies) the Chinese now seem to be on route to delivering the first part of the prophecy - and second we have that huge donut in Switzerland helbent on proving the second with a 'big bang'.

  • Comment number 29.

    "what counts as an industrial secret in China would be considered unremarkable market intelligence in the UK or US"
    On the flip side, western firms operating in China are told they must do a "technology transfer"... then a few years done the line, China produces a cheap copy that flies in the face of intelluctual propety rights.

    The long-term good news is that China's current economic advantage depends on cheap labour, and that advantage will lessen as workers end up with higher living standards.

  • Comment number 30.

    From a US point of view it may seem as if economic power is moving from their Atlantic coastline (and Europe) to the Pacific, but this is simply a US centric point of view. From a European view it also moves away from the Atlantic (and the US), but I can assure you that most goods traded between Europe and Asia do not spend much time in the Pacific :)

  • Comment number 31.

    # 15. At 1:33pm on 29 Mar 2010, Chris B wrote:

    > And guess what, no amount of discount sterling is going to make the
    > UK stop importing and start exporting overnight.

    I thought those hyper-clever bankers down in London had generated
    much "wealth". They are always bragging about that, anyway. They
    say they "generated wealth" by moving figures around in a computer!
    Absolutely bloody amazing, eh?!?

    Anyway, now you seem worried. What happened to this wealth? Can it not
    be exchanged for much gold, diamonds, jewels, cash, shares, and whatnot?
    If so, why should we care? And if not, then why not? Perhaps there isn't
    so much "wealth" around after all... so why prop them up?

  • Comment number 32.

    I stand corrected. It seems the South China sea is considered part of the Pacific. Well that's at least a small part of the rim covered ;)

  • Comment number 33.

    One is left wondering if the 4 Rio Tinto employees paid bribes as they admitted apparently, what happened to the counter party/ies to that particular trade?

    That may well say more about the actual reasoning and 'politics' behind the action taken than anything else.

  • Comment number 34.

    You write "But China has made it absolutely clear that if we want to play on their manor, we play by their rules. And these are not rules that are necessarily consistent with western ideals of fair play and free trade", but infer (at least) that the individuals did not understand said rules. There doesn't seem to be much acknowledgement that a number of people committed criminal offences (and, incidentally, damaged the national reputation of their countries of origin): even if readers accept that they were incompetent at assessing the risks involved in the manner in which they were conducting busines, ignorance of the law is not a defence in this country, or any other. It is the responsibility of the individual to ensure that his/her actions are lawful. We've seen the SFO adopt just such an approach in relation to historic business deals in the Middle East. It's irrefutably logical, and morally justifiable.

  • Comment number 35.

    Boy how the tables have turned !, when in Rome do as the Romans do its there country you obey there rules.
    Interesting if Lehman had happened in China how would they handle it?
    Fraud investigation and bang some of the individuals in the slammer?

  • Comment number 36.

    31 Jacques Carter
    Its easy to make wealth when you take the cash off somebody else, its called stealing or is it called investing not sure now LOL!
    The good old caveat "this investment may go up or down and any return is NOT guaranteed. The usual get out of jail card for them.

  • Comment number 37.

    Looks like China is learning from Russia....

    "When supping with the Devil, be sure to use a long spoon" (Confucius???!!)

  • Comment number 38.

    China really ought to put its house in order. Henceforth, for bribery cases the jail terms must extend personally to the CEO of the entity involved - both domestic and foreign. Foreign enterprises had been engaged in bribery in almost 90% of cases in which they got Chinese contracts. For that the Chinese citizenry pays dearly, and the bribers must be put to the law, so the untoward practices would be stamped out.

  • Comment number 39.

    35. At 5:25pm on 29 Mar 2010, KeithRodgers wrote:
    Interesting if Lehman had happened in China how would they handle it?
    Fraud investigation and bang some of the individuals in the slammer?


    Didn't the factory owners who were selling the contaminated milk pay the ultimate price? That would indicate the Chinese are tough on crime, including corporate crime; no tough on the ordinary people, easy on the rich people, no foolish kow-towing to large bank accounts....

  • Comment number 40.

    #31/#36 Going on about the banks is a little myopic in this context, I think it fails to see the big picture. The credit bubble and subsequent bust, with bank failures, are only symptoms of this long running change in economic world order.

    I guess the main thing you could say about it is that the bubble for some time deluded the western world (not just the banks) into thinking that everything would be ok. And many still believe it's just a matter of time before the glory days are here again, if only we can get people to borrow more money again. I think this is unlikely.

  • Comment number 41.

    As the West rushed to China in hopes of high profits from cheap labor they did not see the unwritten rules of Chinese governance. Spin the wheel and takes your chances. The Chinese governments' relationship to business deals is equivalent to Western legislative bodies relationship to banking. Beauty is in the eye........so is corruption...

  • Comment number 42.

    Hi Mr Preston

    Given your position and insight into economic news, i would expect more accurate and sensible reporting but i'm sorry to say that this has to be the most pathetic blog ever.

    Your article implied that the Chinese Government was wrong in condemning bribery and corruption. Surely you didn't mean that.
    I'm no expert in Chinese judiciary system but if that person pleads guilty surely it will be up to the court to decide what's best to do - taking into account of the society that it serves as a whole. This should indeed be a lesson for other firm/individuals thinking of engaging on such activities with other countries, not just China.

    If your intention is to spark debate about East vs. West power shift, then i don't see how you could justify your claims. This has nothing to do with power brokering. It's merely an individual firm vs. the justice system of a developing society interested in engaging trade with the rest of the world.

    I guess the only thing you could say about this is that western firms should take China seriously and stop deluding oneself into thinking that they can flex their way into the market. Is Google still crying like a spoilt brat?

    If i recall correctly, the person responsible for the milk scandal and the corrupted officials in Shanghai paid the ultimate price. Isn't that a clear signal of China's intention to be serious with economic injustice?

    Wake up to the reality, UK MP's scandals, allowing your bank bosses get away with their casino game play, getting into enormous debt and worse still confabulating over some corrupted individuals and debating about power shift when really one should focus on how to improve the current economic malaise..sadly the standards have dropped.

  • Comment number 43.

    China has an ability to create wealth out of manufacturing things, sadly the UK has not its going down hill. Instead the UK focused on Financial Services as a means of spinning wealth out of thin air!
    Invisible Earnings don`t make me laugh please that bubble of wealth creation was built on a uncontrolled lending policy. Both the Banks and the various governments have worked this Ponzi scheme sine the early 1960`s.
    When home ownwership took off in a big way.
    Now China makes the rules as being the most sucessful economy in the world, bit ironic really a Communist based economy beating the western based capitalist economies! Lets all go cap in hand to our new Asian masters!
    They got what they desrved heavy sentences, compare that to other companies found guilty of paying bribes BAE systems in the UK etc.

  • Comment number 44.

    The big question is whether China will be able to develop its internal market so that it would be able to wean itself off the West.

    Almost as big is the question of energy.
    Dirty home produced coal. Or conflict oil.
    Questions questions.

    I am almost certain that there is actually no agenda.
    Everybody, including the Chinese are learning as they go.

    Expect China to weather internal and external strife.
    In which order though?
    Questions questions.

  • Comment number 45.

    The assumption made is that when doing business businessmen have ethics and a morality that sorts of guides them.The reality as we all know is win the contract and pay what ever to make sure we get it!
    Wine and dine them, get them ladies, take them to a casino etc so long as they sign the contract!
    Thats how business works, having ethics and a sense of morality is not going to make you a successful businessman! I wonder how BAE Systems would have faired in China or the Airbus Directors insider dealing allegations etc?

  • Comment number 46.

    44 prudeboy
    The answer to your question is they have already developed the internal market to a size that means they are not overly dependant on the West.
    Hence all of the major car companies are building factories out there, I think Toyota has five car assembly lines!
    That gives you an idea of the size of the market, hence all the iron ore from Rio Tinto to make the steel required to feed this giant economy.
    All those aspiring consumers trying to emulate the western life style, they think with have a lovely life style!
    The Ponzi scheme starts again with another batch of unsuspecting punters LOL!

  • Comment number 47.

    Strange way to give a bribe by having $1M put in your own personal account, you can get me to give a bride that way any day, and I would prefer US$'s, thanks. What happened to the people who were on the otherside of the bribe giving/taking or were they just some anonymous Chinese security service entrapment team? Question: How do you get a confession from anyone? One answer could be after 6 months of brain washing and being shown the tainted evidence and promised a sentence less than execution. The Party leadership in China are little different to thugs with guns. Every country has criminals with violent tendencies but they are not always at the top of the political tree.

  • Comment number 48.

    I am shock with this report. However, being a reporter , he/she must stay neutral, I am even more shocked it happened here ( I chose to read BBC daily over others , as i see BBC always report correctly and accurately, now this report is changing my views) now I seemed to doubt on his professionalism especially with the star war pictures protraiting a war ?

    Lets get it straight, when you are writing , you must write what have happened , however seeing it from a blog prospective you may add a bit of personal comment , however this is overcooked

  • Comment number 49.

    First when doing business, I hope people will be less biased.

    First, this econmomic crisis is triggered by by the sub prime crisis who depression to the whole world, it is not the Newcomer has become stronger, it is the Traditional Powers are making itself weaker, not others people's fault. Sadly Traditional Powers refused to learn, I observed many business case studies, those who can becomes stronger after crisis seldoms point finger but humbly learn and excel.

    Second borrowing money requires the borrower wanting to borrow and lender agrees to lend the money. I believe the money borrow is used to benefit the borrower. There is no way for this relationship to work if in the first place, the borrower refused to borrow money.

    This post has achieve nothing other than complaining, no insights, no learning points except to do things reserved by people wanting to vent off their fustrations. Let me tell you , America is crawling back after its fall, isn't it ? Do not tell me you have already declared this superpower dead, this is the most ridiculous thing if you agree.

  • Comment number 50.

    48# logic_Reason
    I would recommend you take a holiday to find your sense of humor.

  • Comment number 51.

    We borrow money from China, so we can buy their goods!

  • Comment number 52.

    The major economic story of the second decade of this century is going to be the unwinding of western interests in China. The lack of property rights, the lack of freedom, the lack of a fair justice system, and the nationalistic bias China will show to its homegrown businesses will make it difficult for many western businesses to prosper in China. One of the key pillars of running a successful business is risk management. The risks of doing business with China are going to be too high.

    Why are we buying goods from China whose manufacture would be deemed illegal in any Western country?

    Chinese factories could not operate in the West because:

    Wages are far below western minimum wages.
    Health and safety considerations for workers are non-existent.
    Carbon emissions are too high.

    Surely, before we import from any country, we should be satisfied it's factories and workers are operating in a way we believe is within our own laws. Otherwise that country's goods are competing unfairly with goods made "ethically" in the West and should be blocked.

  • Comment number 53.

    Robert such a pity, you did not take half as long to formulate your position on the banks a couple of years ago, this time you waited for the press association.

  • Comment number 54.

    Alexvan, wake up and smell the malti

  • Comment number 55.

    From my knowledge, most of the times the SOP and protocol is provided by the buyer (distributors), correct me if I am wrong. That means, the buyer is actually directing the factories how to manufacture, what materials they are using, and should they breech certian standards they can choose not to pay for the products.

    It might be the distributor neglect to check the quality of the products, or their system fails to work efficiently. Since, the distributor agrees to pay for the product, thus I believe they also agreed to accept the product.

    And Rome is never built in a day, wasn't any industurialised and industrialised countries were facing similar problems at their begining ? The risk of setting up in any foreign countries in foreign environment without doing basic homework is equally risky in my opinion.

  • Comment number 56.

    Only the Chinese government has power, Chinese people are suppressed. Any internet comments about questioning central goverment, taxation and as such have been deleted.
    Ordinary Chinese people do not want whatever world's number one projects, or highest GDP growth, or tax money burning showcases; we just want to have the rights of free speech, better welfare, justice of society, less corrupted public servants, and the people living in rural area can enjoy the same benefit as people in cities.

  • Comment number 57.

    A little late in the day, but here's my tuppence ha'pennyworth.
    What no-one here has noted is the timing of the whole Rio Tinto business. Everything was fine until the Chinalco deal with Rio Tinto fell through last year. Suddenly four execs are arrested and charged with corruption and industrial espionage. Coincidence?

    This case is nothing to do with corruption. Doing corporate business pretty much anywhere, including China and Europe, involves a degree of bribery, it's just that the amount and type varies (the difference between 'hospitality' and large amounts of cash). This case is about China laying down the law to big business. As the title says, it's China's manor and China's rules. China is serving notice that it will not allow its corporations to lose out in any way to western (or any other) multinationals. Western businessmen who have seen China simply as a way of providing cheap labour and materials should be warned. If they do anything that might upset the Chinese applecart (like relocating o a cheaper country), then they might suddenly find things getting VERY difficult for them. That is what this case is about, and the discussions about business ethics or how China should behave in the wider world miss the point.

    What is anybody going to do if China carries on and just ignores them?

  • Comment number 58.

    I read this article on several news services, it was terrible news for me (I consider myself a Volvo fanatic), knowing that the sweedish perfect crafted car was going to be owned by the chinese. Don't consider me xenofobic but the car looks and runs great, it has become a swedish symbol of combining the simple design with high quality materials. But recently I came across this article on the news about Volvo recalling about 6000 cars http://www.volvo-dealers.com/volvo-news/. What seems odd about this is that Volvo never experienced a problem like this in the states but only after being bough by Geely. It sounds preety scary knowing that a decision like this could affect all their hard-earned reputation because of the comercial conflict that exists between the US and China.
    Oh, and I hope the next Volvo I buy won't have chinese symbols on the steeringwheel.

 

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.