It’s not my job to really understand what they’re going to use it for. Our job is to respond to the bid. – Todd Bradley, Hewlett Packard Executive Vice President for China Strategy
He who does not prevent a crime when he can, encourages it. – Seneca
Recently, formerly American, multinational tech firms Cisco and HP have participated in the initial bidding process to provide networking hardware for “Peaceful Chongqing”, an ambitious government project to install HALF A MILLION “crime fighting” cameras in that Chinese industrial city. A noble effort indeed, until one considers exactly what local Communist Party Boss, Bo Xilai might consider to be a “crime.” Bo is a big promoter of restoring “Mao Tse Tung Thought” to China and in the last few years he has erected a NEW seven story tall Mao statue in Chongqing and compelled its radio and TV stations – all government controlled – to repack their song lists with communist standards from the Cultural Revolution. The list of crimes that might worry this wannabe Big Brother are sure to include offenses like “political protest” and “illegal religious congregation.”
The pathetic statement from HP’s Mr. Bradley that opens this piece is quietly becoming the “I was only following orders” of our day. Whether any American company actually follows through or wins a part of this nefarious project is irrelevant. The attitude that sent them chasing after it in the first place sounds the depths of the amoral abyss into which America’s once proud multinational businesses have fallen in their tragically misguided pursuit of “economic freedom”.
Seriously, is selling security equipment to a communist autocracy that jails and tortures millions for political and religious dissent how to follow “The HP Way?” – Bill Hewlett and David Packard are surely rolling in their graves. Is profiting at the expense of another people’s liberty and financing a massive military build-up aimed at America, the “pursuit of happiness” that Jefferson wished to secure for us?
Even worse, while America’s hypnotized CEOs queue up like cattle at a slaughterhouse for the opportunity to do the bidding of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) our politicians are eagerly funding the Boy’s from Beijing’s dark designs with your tax dollars. Huge government projects that – if they are necessary in the first place – should be creating American jobs are instead fueling the unsustainable economic growth that keeps the CCP in power. Perhaps the saddest example of this is the new Bay Bridge segment connecting San Francisco to Oakland that is now being built in China. The obvious quality concerns aside, it is tragically ironic in that California’s most familiar symbol is the proud American steel of the Golden Gate! While all that welding and riveting goes on in Shanghai, thousands of unemployed Californian construction workers and civil engineers scramble for low paying jobs at Wal-Mart in the hope of being able to sell some Chinese junk to their neighbors that still have jobs.
If that isn’t enough, many American states and municipalities are lining up to hand over their economic development projects to the CCP in a desperate search for investment dollars. The sad thing is, that when nominally-American multinationals invest more and more of your 401k bucks in China, the Chinese government forces them into a minority position in a joint venture dominated by a Chinese state owned “partner”, but the Chinese firms buying up America are offered a big helping hand by our states in setting up US operations that are fully-owned by these same communist state enterprises. It doesn’t take a finance PhD to figure out how that process is going to work out for everyone.
In a particularly bold example, the state of Idaho has chosen to lure Sinomach, a Chinese state owned firm to build a huge industrial park near the Boise airport in order to secure a few hundred assembly jobs. Like most other big Chinese firms, its board and management are filled with members of the Communist Party elite and politburo. The firm’s website proudly brags of board members like Li Zhanyong, Deputy secretary of CPC & Secretary of discipline inspection committee. Yep, that’s who we want to be offering our precious investment incentives to! Idaho Commerce Secretary Don Dietrich made the sellout, 100% clear when he told the Idaho Statesman, “The Chinese are looking for a beachhead in the United States. Idaho is ready to give them one.” Of course no Idaho firm would ever be allowed to develop a project like that in Chengdu. LOL!
But not to worry, our clever business leaders and astute politicians have done their due diligence. They’ve traveled first class to luxury hotels in Beijing and Shanghai, hit the tourist sites, toured some model factories, and been treated to fabulous meals! Given the typical modus operandi of China’s “Party Bosses” they’ve also been drunk under the table, and likely been tempted by some other “honey pots”, while government spies, aided by the police, searched their hotel rooms and hacked their electronics.
These naïve American’s invariably fly home ready to create business opportunities for their new BFFs! Not having been invited to tour the local Reeducation Through Labor camp it is hard for them to realize that their new buddies carry a big stick right behind those fake smiles. When the time is right, we will feel that stick just like anyone in China who steps out of line. Let us not forget that Mr. Bo’s beloved Mao taught his followers that, “All power flows from the barrel of a gun.” The current communist cadres have simply fused that advice with Al Capone’s suggestion, from the Untouchables, that “You can get further with a kind word and a gun than you can with just a kind word.”
To get a Chinese perspective on who it is you are really dealing with in China I strongly recommend that every business person, investor, and traveler read Baiqiao Tang’s fabulous book, My Two China’s before you enjoy that sanitized view of the Middle Kingdom your hosts will prepare. Tang’s harrowing tale of protest, imprisonment, torture, and escape are a far cry from the official China spectacle your soon-to-be BFFs are preparing.
For a tragic, real world example of how the Chinese system can really treat Americans and the sad level of US complicity in the process, please take a look at the case of Darren Russell, a young man murdered in Guangzhou. You can read about it at http://www.officer.com/article/10248849/what-happened-to-darren-russell-in-china and http://www.russellcase.net/
If all this disturbs you as much as it has me, please join us in sending a note to the management at Hewlett Packard and Cisco letting them know just what you think about their backing of China’s police state and how that might impact your own brand choices in the future. Let your governor and your state legislators know that America can solve its problems on its own, without going into business with the Chinese Communist mob.
– Greg Autry teaches Macroeconomics at the Merage School of Business, UC Irvine and is co-author (with Peter Navarro) of the new book “Death by China” www.gregautry.us
 The standard defense presented by Nazi’s, like Adolf Eichmann, and their collaborators at the post WWII war crimes tribunals.
 Idaho Statesman, 6/6/11, http://www.idahostatesman.com/2010/06/06/v-print/1219968/east-meets-west.html
 I can tell you that I’ve had my own hotel safe ransacked in Beijing and my email and phone communications intercepted in Shanghai. But if you doubt that, read about the blunt warning from Britain’s MI5 agency to UK business leaders – http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/crime/article7009749.ece