Negotiations, 1985-86, party June 1989. Many contract s were signed with French Aerospeciale in the meantime. The Dolphin helicopter was only part of the deal. Apart from the helicopter project, which was probably the biggest one. There were some other projects that were going on, too. Such as int he importation of the French Gazelle helicopters. And China imported that, like 30 of those. And helicopters and from French Aerospeciale too and it was exactly this type of helicopter that flew over Tiananmen Square. That was 1988. The beginning of 1988, if I remember right. And that helicopter was particularly oriented for China's Army Aviation Corps, newly formed. And that was stationed in a remote suburb of Beijing, in specially designated airfields for the Army Aviation Corps. In Tungzhin. It was form that airport that those airplanes took off and flew over Tiananmen Square. Some of the pilots for the Gazelle had been trained in France, but the French also came to Beijing to train them. And actually to fly that kind of helicopter, you don't have to train pilots very long since it is very easy to handle and is very small. It is only enough space for two individuals inside, a pilot and a passenger. But still it is equipped with anti-tank guns, rockets or even missiles if that is required for the mission. And China imported some of those for the tank killing purposes.
The scholarship letter of 1989 was the one with the bribe for $300,000, during Beijing's Aeronautical...the showing and the demonstrations were constantly going on, the exhibition purposes were always there. Probably the British, French and the United States. The French were the biggest contractor for the Chinese military in the past several years. And Dolphin Helicopters were part of it.
It was announced that the contract would be signed that afternoon. Before that, the preparatory period took a long time also in preparing for the signing, in the Citic building on the fifth floor. Because, on the fifth floor if you come out of the elevator you make a left and then a right. If you make a right, all of the offices belonged to Poly Technologies. Right in front of the entrance we had several negotiation rooms that we called them. They were large rooms, about twenty by thirty feet with a long table. and in another room would be a group of sofas. I don't think those rooms were bugged. That was never out intention. We don't need to. Whenever foreigners are in a room our guys are there.
Actually, what is funny about the signing is that the ceremony was performed on the last day, June 3rd, Saturday. Before that the finally preparatory stage of negotiation had gone on for a couple of days, like, as afar as I can recall, for as long as seven days. So June 3 would be the last day, and then seven working days ahead on this. Tiananmen never interrupted events. Never. Never. And the French knew what was going on all along. Absolutely. And it never bothered them, as far as I could see. They stayed in the Beijing Hotel and saw everything, saw their own helicopters fly over the square. We saw the helicopters in our own building through the windows. Very clear. My God, they flew so low, you know, sometimes made their passes around the Citic building just to get into the square. And it was painted with the army and the air force sign, August 1st, The Air Force insignia. That was the day the army was formed in Jing Danshang, in 1921. So, you know, ever since that time, August 1st, on every Chinese aircraft, the same insignia. And thee was this on it, drawing. You could not see the faces of the pilot, on once occasion, there were two helicopters that flew so low and so quick, we did manage to catch a glimpse of the pilot, but never so clear. But still when negotiations were conducted for seven working days, and so before June 3rd, starting from the 26th of May, when the students were already in the Square, the French saw from our negotiation room, and we saw that too. And very clearly. But still you could near the noises through the glass. The windows were not tinted. Whenever we had a break and had coffee or whatever, you could stand by the window. And the French stood close to the window overlooking everything. Whenever they talked among themselves, when they spoke with us, they spoke in English, and when they spoke among themselves they spoke in French. Once guy who was in charge of the project, Mr. Chun Kungmin, and he was kind of a good guy, working very hard. Sometimes he stayed in the office overnight, typing up paragraphs of a letter or whatever. He seemed to have the habit, he runs to the office every day, he lived very far from the Citic Building, but he chose to run every morning, and when he got off work, he ran home, because he used to serve in the air force, he was the chief French interpreter of the Air Force for ten years. He was the chief French interpreter of the air force for at least ten years, and he traveled in France and in Britain. He ran, by foot, in tennis shoes, kind of a strange guy. He kept all of his clothes in a locker in the office, while he ran in his shorts, even when it was very cold. He was famous for that. In the winter, he swam outdoors. He was a kind of a health nut. He was in his early 40s. Medium sized, and looked like an intellectual, wore wire-rimmed glasses. Seldom smiled. Serious and somber. Didn't smoke cigarettes and he didn't seem to be interested in women either. He was married, but he never spoke of his wife. We constantly spent time together, and from the 26th of August, or the 25th of May, negotiation phase started. And finally the navy made up its mind saying that we did need those four helicopters, because of what happened in the Spratley Islands. The Spratley Islands were pretty heavy on naval minds, of course, the kind of controversy and the claims of various countries were still going on, and the navy was really at the stage of building up for that purpose. And so the French delegation finally arrived, but they had their, what was so special about the French is that they always had support of the government. The French government, under the government had a defense ministry, but also they had something called DCN, it is a very influential group, like a Science and Technology commission of national defense, and it supervises all of the defense oriented research and production, for either domestic applications or for export purposes, very powerful, all the famous army generals and naval admirals, when they retire from the military, they serve in DCN. I know what it means in Chinese, it means Defense Supervision Council. Military Supervision Bureau. Very powerful, and they had people present in Beijing constantly, and have their office there. And the French Aerospeciale, they also have their office in Beijing too. But the French delegation was really from Aerospeciale, when they arrived they stayed in the Beijing Hotel, and around 15 people, present at the negotiations. The delegation was headed by Mr. Samuel, because we constantly called French names in English since we never knew how the names were pronounced in French. He was director of the overseas marketing division of Aerospeciale. He was director the overseas marketing division of the company, and he headed the delegation and it was composed of a lot of experts, either on technical specifications or on quotations or on commercial aspects. So finally, the Navy also sent their representatives in civilian clothes, the Chinese Navy. And the guy actually was Mr. Xie Tie-Niu.(means Iron Ox). He was a captain in the Navy, in charge of the, equivalent to an army colonel, he was newly promoted, and fairly young, about mid 30s, but very powerful. Also, a womanizer, with several beautiful mistresses -- all of them are very beautiful. They were individuals and he didn't have to support them all. He was unusually god looking, and he seemed to look like a guy from an important family, with beautifully cared for nails, soft skin, rosy cheeks, very polished hair, impeccably attired, wore neither glasses nor smoked. But drinking and womanizing were no problem. And he was an excellent dancer, and a romantic guy. He had a beautiful commanding voice, also, Director, of the naval technical international procurement division, so he was there too. And of course with a couple of other men from his division. And there was another there, the son of the late and very influential marshal from China, a senior general, a four star general was his father, his name is Xiao Bo Ying, and he was the son of the founder of the navy, the Xiao Jing gua, that was his father and the first naval admiral and the first commander in chief of the navy, actually, he was handpicked by Mao Zedong to head the navy. Actually, Mr. Xiao joined the communist party earlier than Mao Zedong did. He was one of the very early leaders of the communist party, in the early 1920s. He was very old and very repsected in military circles, But his son was with the technology and equipment division of the Navy in charge of aviation aspects of the navy, and actually he worked for the helicopter sector. That is why he was present. He was also a captain, Xiao Boying. In China, whenever there are foreigners present, at an occasion, Military personnel are supposed to be in civilian clothes. They don't like many people to feel that the navy purposely chooses to deal with foreigners directly. There is a subtle difference. They were present and from my company, and actually I was the interpreter at that time, and the general manager, He Ping, son in law of Deng Xiao Ping and He Datong, who was the vice president of our company, together with Mr. Chung Kuming, the individual who ran to work in his shorts every morning. In Beijing we call it the chocolate building, because it looks like chocolate, either the color or the shape. And altogether, probably, six people from the naval side, while there are five people from my company. The French had about 15, so altogether about 25 strong. A big occasion. The first day we compared notes, and we exchanged our views on preparation of the final document, which was preparation for forming a contract. And while the discussions broke into two groups, one was for technical final discussions and the other for commercial, like the price negotiations, the final stages. The navy was serious and believed that they were in a real bargaining table with a foreign competitor, and the people from the navy who were on the commercial side really pressed the French, saying that this time we are serious, to buy your helicopters, so please make some further concessions on your prices. While the French held firm during this. Said there could be no further reductions in our quotations. They said, because, before the negotiations started, the French had already contacted us, Poly, because we were so influenced by the Aerospeciale, and so were the naval admirals, who were not present at meetings like this, but they always had a hand behind them, and they had a good intelligence system. They knew that we had $45 million US in our pocket and that we had to spend it. The problem was that the French knew this, that no matter how hard we were going to press them we would give in because they knew that we had to buy the helicopters and that we had to spend the money before the end of the year, or otherwise we had to return what was left of the money back to our superiors, and that was the General STaff, and then there would be no profit at all for us. The General STaff didn't really care how much we spent. We just told us how much we needed and they allotted us the money. And so the French knew everything, and so the guys from the navy before they came to the negotiation table they had their own meeting among themselves, and they said that this time we are going to press the French. This time we are serious. We will let them know we are serious. And once the customer lets someone know he is really serious, it is always the case that the seller will make further concessions, just to make the deal go through. This is always a common practice. And the guys from the Navy knew that. But one thing that they did not know was that the French knew also what they were talking about. There were leaks, important ones. The French knew everything. And so on the one hand we were saying that if you don't make further concessions there will be no deal. And they knew that wasn't true at all.
The admirals who were the ones who knew and were affected by the French. They had been bribed. But not their subordinates. By affected I mean that products manufactures by the French are cheap and not trustworthy. The quality isn't good. We have signed so many contracts with the French. I don't know in this case what the special considerations were, the special gifts. But I do know that to us the French were the number one Western merchants, they knew how to do business with the Chinese much better than the Americans and the British. The absolute worst, of course, would be the British people. They are just too sincere, just too naive when it comes to China. But the French never were that type, never fell into that category. And so before they headed to the negotiation table they knew exactly they thought what our position and our arguments would be. So behind the scenes the final negotiation phase was not every meaningful except in technical terms, you have to explain to the customer how to interface your product with other, system coordination and so on. And system integration because you will also be putting on board materials made in China. Like part of the avionics are from China, too. So they did spend a lot of time explaining things like that to the Chinese side. And so finally on June 2, everything was finished, everything was done. And then we were ready to sign a contract on the next day.
And so on June 3rd, time was running short, because judging from the situation in the street an d in the Square, those guys who were in the company who were well connected militarily, they knew what the army was going to do that night. They knew. So they wanted to make sure that the contract was signed, that the deal was done, before the killing started.
The student marchers came by our building on Chang`an, it seemed every day. And then on June 2 and June 3 were the biggest marches I had ever seen in the city, perhaps the biggest marches ever made in Chinese history. At least one million people poured out into the streets on those days. And the intersections were all blocked, all blocked, all 82 of them. And so it was nearly impossible for me to get home in the night. And some evenings I chose to stay in the office rather than go home, and I stayed in the office and stayed in the standby bed, but there was an ability to walk between the Beijing Hotel and the Citic Building. The French had to walk during those days. When the taxis were forced to stop[ and the French had to get out and walk. The days were hot and humid, very hot.
The building was air conditioned, so that was no problem. At three o clock, the previous night we didn't finish work until 2 in the morning. So tomorrow we have to get restarted at 3. So the French arrived, and they knew that after the signing ceremony we would have a party. At that time, the building looked almost abandoned, a ghost building, it was neglected. Still some Chinese staff showed up, but very few. Because they couldn't make it to the office. The guards at the door did show up, they were civilian security guards paid by the companies. The elevators had to be operated by the riders. The French arrived at 3 and we put them in a room with a long table, and we had the national flags of France and China in the middle of the table, it was all well draped. The front desk receptionists, pretty girls from the company, and they served champagne, that was a must for an occasion like that, so Mr. He Ping and Mr. Samuel and the guy from the navy stood close and we had photographs taken and enlarged later on. But it was a very solemn occasion, since everyone knew what was happening in the square, outside. Everyone chose on the occasion not to smile, and that was unusual for an event like this. When we said "Gen Bei" then people would flash a smile for a moment, but it was forced, and it was over in a moment. Because everyone knew what was happening outside, what was coming down, and it was going to happen quickly, and soon. Because on that day, before when we wee in the negotiation stage, a lot of people, we heard some noises from outside, and just, some just employees from other companies, they were very sympathetic with the students, once they realized that those damn helicopters, circling in the air and coming over our building were actually purchased and imported through Poly, they leaked this story out to the students, and a lot of employees then mixed with the students, they sort of stormed our office and they were on our floor and the like questioning everyone who came into the office or through the office. The guards couldn't sop anyone at that time, everyone was affected. On a cuple of occasions, but hearing from the receptionists, they told us that a lot of people stormed into the reception desk and told the girls profane things and told us what kind of a fucking company we were, they said. And at that time, some people, came from out of our offices, and they were going upstairs or downstairs and they were all stopped and questioned. And these people would actually grab them and shout, "What kind of fucking company are you anyway? |:You are spending China's treasure, her hard earned foreign currency to buy shit like this, like these helicopters." And a lot of us were embarrassed and we really didn't know what to say. Yes, we didn't know what to say. We weren't afraid at those moment, but we were profoundly moved, and we were embarrassed really. We knew that the French had sold us the helicopters and they were now flying and they were indeed the helicopters from Aerospeciale and the Poly did indeed spend a lot of time and money buying them for China. But believe me the last thing we expected the helicopters to be used for was this application. But the people in the Square they didn't know where the helicopters came from. They made a lot of noise and pulled paper to the floor and that was all. But later on, Poly was forced to move from the fifth floor to the seventeenth, after the massacre, because this was immediately reported, because almost all of the employees of the building, different companies, international companies, like AT&T was in the building and Yugoslavian company and west Germans and a couple of Chinese businesses, but it was still called Citic Building. And one of the things they were always talking about was our company. And they all said, we always wondered what kind of company you were. In the past we didn't know that. But know we know what you guys are doing. And whenever we had to share an elevator with other people, I personally experienced that. Cause whenever they saw the door open on the fifth floor, the people glared at him or talked about the company openly to us, and against us. And they stared at us and tried to stare us down or they would be absolutely quiet. The company reported that immediately to the General Staff and so the General Staff finally made the decision that Poly would move to the seventeenth floor. At that time the seventeenth was renovated, and was in kind of a repaired interior and so it was uninhabited at the time. At the time, I didn't know who came in and took the fifth floor. But now we occupied the whole seventeenth floor. So that was a larger space. We used to spare one room, and now we had two. That was double the space that we had before. Our reward. And I prepared some of the documents myself, we printed them out, and put them on file. The documents were always in English, English only. That is the lingua franca of the arms trade. The official copy, was signed, only by two people. By each representative from the sides. On the French side it was Mr. Samuels and on the Chinese it was He Ping. And the special appendixes, which the technical sides of the contract, and the commercial side of the appendices, like personnel training and the payment advance payment appendix, all of these were signed by respectively the individuals concerned. So a lot of people signed, and the entire ceremony took about two hours. They were a good deal of discussion and individual were constantly standing up to have their pictures taken and to shake hands and to chat. And then on the 28th floor was a dining hall, and we called them and reserved part of the hall for a big party, we said, for about 30 people. And they said, OK, and it was because at that tie the restaurant was virtually empty. The whole building was not crowded now, not many people there, on a Saturday, and it looked fairly abandoned for a couple of days. So about 6:30 we had a short rest period, and then we moved up to the restaurant, it was nice and cozy, called "Window of the World," very famous and they served really nice food. "Windows on the World," they had glass windows, large. But they were just normal windows. We had half of the restaurant that night. The, few guests in the restaurant because not many people show up in those days. So we were the only guests that night. The waitresses didn't care as long as they made a profit. No waiters that night. Just waitresses. A head waiter who showed up only when something important. We ordered the standard banquet for 30 people. There are A and B and C levels and we ordered the A level banquet. The French paid for the banquet that evening. They always paid for the food. That is part of the way for doing business in China. Because we reserved many tables, and we called up all the people in the office, the receptionists girls and the public relations sector. And they were present. There were about thirty people there. It wasn't a formal occasion, but on this occasion, nobody bothered too much about what you should wear, since there were other things to worry about at that time. You could see out over the entire city from that floor. The Citic building is some distance from Tiananmen, but the shooting was about to commence at that time.
There were dozens of toasts that evening. We ordered Mao Tai Liquor and Wu Danwei too, very expensive ones. Once we told the French that we wanted a banquet they were very happy and said, oh we were thinking along the same lines. Please, let us have the bill from this. And from that point on we ordered everything that was most expensive. A very nice banquet after all. Thee was candlelight, and we told them that we preferred that. They turned down the big lights. It was a very cozy restaurant and a very nice banquet. There was a sort of nonstop background music, classic. As it darkened, we kept looking out toward Tiananmen. We couldn't resist it, of course. The important people sat at one table, according to their rank. And they were serious people involved deeply in conversation, eating and drinking. But for the rest of us, at the less important tables, we felt less obliged to speak formally. And we could speak about whatever we liked. And the French wanted to know at that time about what we thought a bout what was happening outside. Mr. Chen was the translator at the most important table, he was very fluent in French. I was at another table. And what was so funny is that the French never bothered to ask too many questions. But they knew what was going on. It was the Chinese around the table that were talking and sharing our worries and talking about what we had seen and predicting the future. It was us.
Why should I be worried. If the party was finished, then half the people would be very happy, U guess. But they would not be depressed. Cina was going to be more democratic and they thought that would be b etter and they would have a better life. And that, then is what we talked about that night. The impending death of the Communist party on the one hand or the impending death of the democracy movement led by the students on the other. We talked with the French and we talked about life and how many times have you been to China and are you satisfied with the contract and so on. We chose to stay away from Politics in talking with them. But, with the Chinese, among us, we shared our concern, because we all knew what was happening. And some, in fact, knew that the army had been issued orders to crush the movement that night. They knew that the army was on the move that night. So the banquet was finished before 10:30. Some individuals began glancing at their wrist watches later that evening. And probably a little more than one hour later the shooting started.
People at 10:30 took the elevators down. The the french that night headed for their Embassy rather than their hotel, an indication that they perhaps knew what was going to happen. Outside the building their embassy people were waiting for them, so that had dispatched their own cars for them that night. They chose not to take taxis that night. And that night I was the one who chose to go home. I took a round about way on my bicycle. I was, kind of a, on a bicycle, and I saw the situation was so incredibly tense that night, but it was quiet. Where our office was was already some distance from Tiananmen. More than a kilometer, four of five, but still, you could see the lights and you could see the search lights, and everyone who was not stupid knew that night that something was going to happen. But before the shooting started you saw the army vehicles. But before that time no one was afraid of the army vehicles because nobody thought that army was going to shoot anybody. When you saw the trucks driving around you weren't afraid because the feeling was that the PLA might do something but certainly they would not shoot anybody, not indiscriminately, certainly, that night. The only thing I saw that night were the vehicles, not Apcs, only the trucks with soldiers loaded in them, camouflaged, and I thought something serious was about to happen. The trucks were filled with soldiers. The soldiers were quiet and weren't talking to each other when I went by them. The only time when the people from Beijing could get close to the soldiers on the truck, where they were stranded, were after the shooting. The soldiers were still on the streets and still surrounded by people. These people from Poly had their own cards, and they could go wherever they wanted. No problem. The traffic was moving that time, but the important intersections were blocked by workers with concrete and with buses and cars and taxis and they knew the army was coming i. But I always had the feeling that this was something related to Chinese politics but certainly not to Chinese business. This was a Saturday night, and I was too preoccupied that night. It was horrible, actually. I took the roundabout way. I went through the back way around Beihai park, and I bicycled to my parents home that night. The girls from the restaurant also rode their bicycles home too and there was no public transportation that night.
At the back of the Citic building, a short distance away was a bicycle rack, some distance from the building proper. So, that was the occasion and the nice food was served, and the next day was not a work day, and who dared leave his home at that time. The army moved in and they shot anyone and everyone. I heard the shots at first. and I thought, what kind of occasion is that, it sounded like firecrackers. and then I looked out my bedroom window toward Mu Xudi and I could see that the sky was all light up lie a celebration or a huge fire was burning at that time at some distance. Half the sky was red when I saw it and there were flashes like lightening.
I came to work again several days later(says one week), and that last contract was signed with perfect timing, to be sure, the timing was perfect. The next day, the 27th floor, the army just shot into the building, the army shot it up, the windows, and on the 27th floor was an office of a Yugoslav company, the soldiers thought they saw snipers in the building, they said, and the other, the security agents saw some tapes that they thought were taken from the building, and so they wanted to intimidate people from taking pictures of that advantageous building, Yugoslavia industrial Engineering Firm SNELT Global Project Management, and that office faced west and you could see soldiers moving in a shooting their weapons. And later this was the explanation that I heard, later on, they said that they should not only the building, but some of the foreign residential area and diplomatic compounds. The British and the American army attache offices, the windows facing the west, they were all smashed, and all of this was done to intimidate them. The reasons they should out windows was because they thought movies were being made from those buildings. They thought that someone was filming from those windows and so when the army was in firm control, they shot out the windows, randomly, here and there, and a lot of windows were smashed and broken. And when I went back to work. No problems with the files. We had our own security and there were people who were always there and everything was locked.
We moved about one month later, to the 17th floor. The 27th was also the AT&T offices in Beijing. A lot of windows on the west side were just smashed, and this was the most serious.
Beyond that the impact on Poly, the impact was, normal in no way. Everything looked normal, but everyone knew what happened and not everyone supported what the army had done. But nobody dared to say that. Nobody dared to express his own opinion. We dare not do that. But still we could not talk, express our opinion, that was dangerous. We chose to stay quiet. And besides. Poly was poly and nobody questioned the people, bothered to do that. But what was interesting about the contract was that later on, because of the Tiananmen incident, the French government joined the American government in posing economic and high-tech sanctions against China, so the contract failed to get approval of the French government.. So the system was never delivered and the contract not finalized. The first part of the delivered to the navy, but as far as I knew, the French Aerospeciale worked closely with DCN to persuade the French government to ratify the contract. Of course, high technology, military technology was involved, so the French government had no other choice but to not ratify the contract. But finally it was ratified, because, well, you know the French. They, when they have no choice they do something,
The French commercial firms were never affected by Chinese domestic political affairs. They were very good businessmen, very money oriented. And besides they knew pretty well how to do business in China.
Overseas friends compound. Americans who had special connections, special powers and special things they had in China.
The aircraft carriers, and their manuals. We can talk about that later on, obviously.
Going to work the first few days and discovering how really powerful that it was.
When I first went to work, it was a good job. I didn't regard the income as what was attractive to me. Obviously, before I started working for them, you would know, this personal story should not be included in the story.
Before I started working for the company, I was in the navy in for a period of time and was engaged in a technical aspects of introduction of foreign arms in the navy, so I was familiar already with technical discussions and technical aspects of the Navy cooperation with foreign firms. And of course, whenever there were such occasions, there were always people from Poly present. Because at first, at the very beginning, I started as a translator, interpreter, and the way that I handled the situation, it was a big occasion, and Poly They never provided interpreters, it was the end users, the air force and the navy, that provided the interpreters for them all. But they of course the people from Poly were there when I was **********, so they knew that I was doing a good job, and they just inquired as to who I was and what was my name and where I came from. they recruited and this is exactly the kind of people they were looking for, they said. This is what they were looking for, talented people. They had their own requirements. And sometimes they were hard to meet. I had god family connections. and I had been thinking of getting out of the military. By that time I was sick and tired of it. I didn't want to stay in one place too long. I wanted to get back into civilian life, and working for a company like that always attracts people. The better pay and the better chances of travel, I wanted that. And besides everyone knew that Poly was a very powerful company, and so, presumably, anyone working in the company was important, too. Everyone in the military knows how important Poly is. and aosl when they are involved in the introduction of foreign technology, then you also learn about Poly, so I was on very good terms with a couple of the women and men working in the company and they were impressed by me and we developed a friendship. Later on they asked me if I was interested in getting into their company. But I was not very serious yet and they were. So the other day, I went to work and my boss called me and said that Poly was interested in me and he said he was reluctant to let me go. But they wanted me and so he would have to let me go. They were powerful enough to get people out of the military when they wanted. And they wanted me, from the military, they applied to my superiors and then I went to work for them. I was a party member at that time and I still am.
Relationship between party members and the company, the part membership is an asset and it is a plus when one goes into the company. It is a positive effect.
It is not though a requirement. If you are party member, then that helps, always, in most things in China. And it does you no harm. But it does not disqualify you automatically if you are not. They never made it very clear how much of a requirement it was. They still chose you on the basis of your competence. And your connections were important, too. They were shrewd people. They knew how to recruit and to choose people. They have a personnel division.
How big is the company, the company is not very big, around 70 people. But there is a personnel division within it, about 3 or 4 people, and that is one od the divisions of the people, they handle personnel files and transfers and so on.
There were no considerations for the job. No bribes. Nothing was owed to those who hired you. this is a company that is purely business oriented. Purely, and they hyave their very strict requirements for hiring people. They are not hiring people for nothing. They were impressed by my record and by my family background and party membership. And later, when we were talking about things they were watching me, I know. They watched for some time before I was hired. We developed a knowledge of my background, what I wanted and liked and what I could do for the company.
There are women in the company also who are well connected. All the women are. We never bother to find out where he or she is from. Nobody ever talke about personal things ever. Why should they. But in any normal company they might. But not in Poly. Because in Poly everyone was very busy, too preoccupied. They socialized together only when we traveled together - to Britain or to Italy. Then we socialized but not after that. Mr. Chen spoke perfect Cantonese because he was from Canton. Everyone seemed close to each other but everyone also was very remote from each other too. It is not untypical in a joint foreign venture in China. This as purely operated for business. Like a western firm. We didn't associate that closely with each other. But that was for social requirements, for occasions, when we celebrated. We didn't ever just sit down and talk about personal things. There was not point to that.
What surprised me most at first, when I came to the company,w as one day we were talking,and I discovered that everyone had a military background. |And if they didn't they came from military families. Even the women. All were military associated. They were if out of the military, they kept their uniforms in their drawers and could put it in. He Ping was also serving in the military. He had been the military attache to Washington DC. Many people served dual posts, and these were the typical individuals . Once there was a banquet for the National Defense Ministry, on August 1 sat, the founding day of the army, and there was a banquet in the Great Hall of the People and on those days we would wear uniforms and get acquainted with foreign military attaches to Beijing. Those were the days when we needed to put on our uniforms. Second occasion when there was a defense exhibition, an aeronautical exhibition, and those were also in uniform. Meetings with the general staff or the genera l political division, we also wore uniforms for those also. Costine National defense(Costind) the abbreviation for the China National defense Science and Technology Commission. So, this was the only time when these people were really, let me put it this way, they were able to put on uniforms.
No high ranking people ever came into the office. Every. And officers of the company had access to the highest individuals in the government, through private Channels. it was very common to see the signatures of Zhao Ziyang, when a report of arms sales to overseas, you must have the names of the president on the document. And people explained it to us that business must be ratified by those from the time. top. But they can tell you that, telling you is one, thing, then you see suddenly the signature of Zhao or Deng and it surprise you if you've never seen it before. You know that it has passed through their hands and been personally approved and signed. Then you feel in a very special way. \It adds a lot of weight to what you are doing. What you are seeing though is not a signature, it is a seal, a chop, of the individual. But it looks like the signature, and the secretary may have done it for him, and that would save a lot for time. That is though a requirement.
How find out about personal vices. Anyone working for the company for a certain period of time, if you are not stupid you know that something is going on. Someone gets a call and you can tell from personal expressions what is going on. the individual looks very gored and he wants to hang up at any moment. And later on there would be gossip about that, who has a mistress and where she is and who she is. And sometimes his wife would call and ask where her husband has been for the past week, when he was coming back from his trip, and of course he was been in the office the whole time, but just not going back to his home in the evening. This was one of the covers of the individuals, the higher ups in the company. It is always something nice to talk about. They told me, look where do you come from. And I told him and he said, Oh, I thought you were living somewhere else.
I came into contact with all the officials every day. Of curse, we are on the same floor and if I wanted to speak to him directly, I did. He is a nice man. He succeeded He Ping. He succeeded Wang Jing to be general manager. A real gentleman, actually. He speaks perfect English, of course. Very competent man. But he makes no mistakes in his English, with a slight British accent.
The amounts of money didn't surprise me, because I was aware of this from working with the military. What surprised me, was that say when our section chief let alone the people like He Ping, it is always the common procedure for someone working for a company in China, if he wants to go on business to a foreign country, he must borrow money from his company, and later on bring back the receipts. But this is never the practice for this company. These people are above that. What struck me, in 1985 when I went to Italy for the first time, this was the first time I went to a foreign country and I felt very excited, indeed very excited. But those people the other people, my section chief, the other day went to west Germany and in the afternoon we talked about different things and it looks like everything is normal and all of a sudden he tell s me he is going to West Germany and he is going alone on business. That was all. I dare not ask other questions. But what surprised me was that his flight left at 8 that night and it was 6:309 and he was still working. And all he took with him was a small suitcase, nothing more, and then he went to West Germany, and this was common life for him. It was part of everyday work for him, like someone going abroad. And people would say one day, Oh I'm tired, I'm going to the Embassy. And then they would say they were just walking over to have their visa approved. And those people had their connections and they would walk to the Embassy and the next day they would have their visa. See. So simple. Poly didn't need to borrow money. They spent money out of their own pockets. But they did bring back the bills for reimbursement. Then the company paid them cash. And the difference was in someone who has money and someone who hasn't. Different tings. In my case I had to borrow money from the company because I didn't have the cash, obviously. But for them, bringing up enough foreign notes, with you, is not allowed at the airport in Beijing. and I don't think they brought a lot with them, but they had access to cash and banks in foreign countries. I don't know where they get the money, but I do know that they never left with a lot of cash. But where abroad do they get their money. The other thing is that they need not borrow money and they still had enough to spend when they arrived in a foreign country.
The end of the party in June 3rd. In China there is a difference between being a party member and being a party true believer. There are a lot of people who are party members in China. But how many of them actually believe in it, that is a serious problem. A lot of people believe, rather, that Party members hip is a ticket, the ticket, to an important career. No more than that. Few people bother to waste time reading Karl marx or Lenin or even Mao anymore. That is not the case any longer. Party membership is the ticket now to something important, and that is all. That is the sole reason why so many people today struggle for it.
So if the party comes to an end, there will just be another vehicle for these individuals to come to power. Nothing more than that. It, in some cases, it looks like the Republican party today in America. Right. So long as you sign up your name, you are a Republic. But how much to you believe in the dictates of the party. How much do you believe in the party. I mean, does any one in the Republic party read Abraham Lincoln of Dwight Eisenhower. I don't think so today. I don't think so.
Political conviction is no longer the requirement for an important organization in China. But the ticket is the requirement, and the ticket is the Communist party. And that is too complicated. Yu work hard right, and you develop respect for your superiors and know how to behave yourself and then you are a party member. People from Poly, according to my observation, and something that strikes me after working for the company was that a lot of people had their own private cars. And others had their own cars but they did not own them. They would have cars driven by a chauffeur even, and then they would have their own cars. And all the cars were registered as a military vehicle, and that means that they have a white license plate. And all the cars belonging to the company have a white plate. And that is unique for a company at citic, but still this is what they have there. The car you have can be registered as a military car and once you have a white plate on you are driving a military vehicle, then your kind of plate, is free from police interruptions, for the most part, comparatively speaking, military vehicles are relatively safe. And the public security bureau has very strict control about car registrations and if you do not pay a certain fee you are not allowed to own the car, but once you have an army plate you have no problems. No problem.
There were no privileges in the company that you or other individuals didn't necessarily have before they came into the company. But still, you had to meet certain requirements when you came into the company. They must have looked into my military background. My personal military background, where i went to school and this convinced them that I was the woman they were looking for.
Difficulties in Poly. Very very few. In our company we have strict lines. Your business is yours. I never go into your area. But it goes the other way around, too. My business I handle and you are not supposed to get involved in my business, too. Sometimes I make my own contracts, look after a certain area for which I am solely responsible. If I am going to Britain, it is my responsiblity and I will go. In another company it would be different. There are a lot of people who are not connected with what is going on, but because of their personal connections they want to be included into the trip, into what is going on. It was never the case in my company. Of course there are exceptions. My trip to Britain, for example, was one of the exceptions. Solely, purely, business oriented.
If you sell the DF# missiles to Saudi Arabia, people from one section were not to ask questions about that. Who cares, as long as you generate enough profit and that is good for the country and that is good for the company, and what is good for the company is good for all of us.