Philip wasn’t actually completely disbelieving of Xia Lei’s words. The orders he had received were clear — get Annina back to Germany this time, by hook or by crook. The reason was simple — it was more beneficial to get Annina back to Germany than to leave her in China.
Annina seemed to be aware of this too, and she said, “That’s right, Mr Philip. I was only in charge of the most basic parts. I have no clue about the core technology. It is useless for you to take me back to Germany. Besides, I don’t want to go back.”
Philip scoffed. “Miss Annina, it seems you do not understand the situation. You have to go back to Germany, whether you are willing to, or not. Even if Germany drops the charges against you, you still have to talk and explain all that had happened to you.”
“I…” Annina could not speak.
Xia Lei spoke up then. “Mr Philip, I believe that all business things can be negotiated. You have just Annina for a bargaining chip in your hand, but I have what you want. My chips are the production technologies of the XL2500 sniper rifle, and the Gust assault rifle. I think if our two sides sat down and talked about it, we would surely be able to reach a satisfactory outcome for us both. What do you say?”
“We can talk about anything. How about this — you state your conditions,” said Philip.
“I’d like to be clear about something before I talk,” said Xia Lei.
“What is it?”
“I’d like to ask, Mr Philip, if you are fully responsible for this matter, or is it someone else?” asked Xia Lei.
“I am in charge, of course.”
“Are you sure?”
“Hey!” Philip was getting annoyed. “Mr Xia, do you think me unfit to be an ambassador?”
“No, no, no, I definitely did not mean that. I apologise if my words have made you uncomfortable.”
“There’s no need for that!”
“What you want is the production technology of the XL2500 and the Gust rifles. This is very important to our country. However, we are not like you Westerners, who put a technology blockade on us. We are willing to share the production technology of the XL2500 and Gust rifles, but you must bring out something that is similarly beneficial for us,” said Xia Lei.
“What do you have in mind?” asked Philip tentatively.
Xia Lei smiled. “Technology for the Leopard 2 tank, and the Eurofighter Typhoon engine, for example.”
“Hahaha…” Philip laughed all of a sudden.
Xia Lei did not speak. He watched Philip laugh.
Philip said scornfully, “You sure are bold to ask for such things, Mr Xia. You want to exchange light weapons’ manufacturing technology for Germany’s Leopard 2 tank technology, and even the Eurofighter Typhoon engine technology? Don’t you think you’re being naive, and ridiculously so?”
Xia Lei had a smile on his face. He was not perturbed by this mockery.
“Mr Xia, you asked if our ambassador is full in charge of this matter. I, too, would like to ask what role you have in this latter? Do you have full responsibility for what you said?” said Alida.
“I’ve had the authorisation long ago,” said Xia Lei.
He had indeed been authorised by Ling Han. Ling Han’s status was very special, and it was enough to have his authorisation. Furthermore, the demands he made gave China the bigger benefit out of the exchange, and he was bold enough to act first, and report later.
“It is not possible, even if you have the authorisation,” said Philip. “Mr Xia, your conditions for this exchange are too much. We just want to take Annina back with us; this is our aim. We shall not make this disadvantageous deal with you.”
“Disadvantageous? Heh heh heh.” Xia Lei laughed too.
“What are you laughing about? You want to have the technology for the Leopard 2 tank, and the Eurofighter Typhoon engine. How does this benefit us?” said Philip disdainfully.
“Mr Philip, I know that the most advanced lathe you have in Germany is a machine which an electrical engineer named Josef made. He is also an excellent machinist. Do you truly think that his intelligent lathe is the most advanced?”
Philip and Alida froze.
Xia Lei went on. “I’ll be frank. It is not just the mechanisms of the XL2500 and Gust rifles which is the key technology. The most important thing is the intelligent lathe I made myself. Without my lathe, you won’t be able to make the same guns even if you get your hands on my design plans.”
“You dare to say that your intelligent lathe is more advanced than our German intelligent lathe?” Philip snapped back to his senses, but he did not believe Xia Lei’s words.
Xia Lei spoke casually, “My production workshops are just next door. You can go have a tour at any time.”
“This…” Philip was undecided. He did want to have a tour of the production workshop, but he was not an industry insider, so he had no clue about intelligent lathes. It would be useless for him to look at it. He was in no doubt of Xia Lei’s words, however. This was because the production of guns was not simply a matter of having the design plans, but the production line too. Lathes were an important, integral part of the production line too. How would Thunder Horse Military Factory be able to produce the world’s best XL2500 and Gust rifles without the best lathes for the job?
Alida drew close to Philip, and said something in his ear.
Xia Lei used his lip-reading ability to decipher what she said. “I think what he’s saying is true. We should report this to our superiors. It will be more beneficial for us to be able to obtain Thunder Horse Military Factory’s lathe.”
The lathe played a very important role in the manufacturing process. China used to almost completely depend on imports for all the precision processing that they needed in the past, before Xia Lei stole the technology. Why? It was because they lacked advanced intelligent lathes. This awkward situation ended only after Xia Lei built Josef’s intelligent lathe. China could now do the high-end precision processing on her own, and did not need to rely on precision processing imports anymore. This showed how important intelligent lathes were!
Additionally, Thunder Horse Military Factory’s intelligent lathe was an upgrade of Josef’s intelligent lathe. Its technology was more advanced than the lathe Xia Lei had sold to China Industrial Group, and more perfect. It could be said that the intelligent lathe in Thunder Horse was the most advanced lathe in the world, and that none could compare to it! This was indeed a great temptation for the Germans, who were known for their prowess in manufacturing.
Xia Lei knew what they were up to now after lip-reading what Alida said, but he showed no sign on his face. “How about this, Mr Philip — you can report to your superiors. Let them send an expert to have a look at our intelligent lathe, and at our production line. If you still think you can produce a true copy of the XL2500 and Gust rifles if you bring Annina back with you, then you can take her back. I will not stand in your way. However, if you wish to talk business, then I’ll welcome you anytime. You want something from this, and we want something from this too. This will be beneficial to both parties, don’t you agree?”
“What you say is quite logical, Mr Xia. I do not understand intelligent lathes, and I don’t have knowledge on the production of guns either. How about this — I return to the embassy right now, and make a call to see what our side wants to do about this. I will contact you immediately when I get news about this,” said Philip.
Xia Lei smiled. “Let’s do that, then. It was nice meeting you. Goodbye, Mr Philip. Goodbye, Miss Alida.”
Philip and Alida stood, and shook hands with Xia Lei and Annina.
Xia Lei sent Philip and Alida to the door, and tried to play down his words as he said, “Mr Philip, please give all the details of the situation to your superiors. The production technology for the XL2500 and Gust rifles, plus the technology for the world’s most advanced composite intelligent lathe, in exchange for your country’s Eurofighter Typhoon engine technology.”
“You don’t want the Leopard 2 tank technology anymore?” Philip looked at Xia Lei.
“It’s not good to be too greedy. My mother taught me that. We will be exchanging three bits of technology for your one. I think that’s about right.”
Philip glanced at Annina, who was next to Xia Lei. “And her?”
“Mr Philip, Annina is not an item for trade. She is my woman. Do you feel it appropriate for her to participate in this negotiation?”
Philip pointed a finger at Xia Lei and laughed flatly. “You’re a shrewd businessman. No wonder China was able to rise up strong in the past 30 years. You Chinese really are the rare elite race of the world.”
(Excuse me while I vomit.)
Xia Lei smiled. “Then let us be friends before it’s too late.”
Philip and Alida left.
The negotiations were not over, but both sides were sure of the other’s motives now, and this was a good lead-in to further talks. This was also considered a good result.
Back in the office, Annina out her arms around Xia Lei. “Lukas, I liked that you said I am your woman. I got quite excited when I heard you say that.” She then drew close to Xia Lei’s ear and whispered something.
Xia Lei glanced involuntarily between her legs, and an odd expression appeared on his face.
“Lukas, are you really going to exchange all of our technology for the technology of the Eurofighter Typhoon engine? We have no way of manufacturing it even if we do get that sort of technology, but we will be losing a solid advantage. Tell me — why?”
“Our country’s engine technology has always been lacking. Most of the engines of our fighter planes are imported from Russia, and are severely limited too. If I can change this situation, then why not? I might lose the benefit of being the sole producer of the XL2500 and Gust rifles, but compared to the benefit of the nation, my personal gains are insignificant. Besides, I am making so much money now that I won’t be able to spend it all, not even over several lifetimes. What do I need so much money for?”
“You are such a noble person.” Annina drew close to Xia Lei’s ear again and whispered something.
Xia Lei hurriedly avoided her. “I need to make a call, to report this situation to the higher-ups.”
Annina pursed her lips. “I’ll go to work, then.”
Xia Lei called Ling Han, and gave him a brief overview of the negotiations.
“Look at the size of the balls on you, Boy!” Ling Han cursed, paused, and laughed. “But you did brilliantly. If we really go get the Eurofighter Typhoon engine technology in exchange, then you’ll have really achieved something stupendous, Boy!”
“So why did you curse at me?”
“Eh… Was I cursing at you?”
“Heh heh, I am just kidding with you, Brother Ling. Also, you have to come in person for the negotiations. This matter is too important, and I don’t have the authority to make major decisions. Could you also get Annina her freedom during the negotiations?”
“I would definitely need to come in person for the negotiations. I won’t be just me either, but a team of negotiators. As for what you said about getting Annina’s freedom, I’d like to ask… What sort of freedom do you want to get for her?”
“Freedom in China, and freedom in Germany. The most important condition is that the Americans cannot arrest her, and cannot interrogate her,” said Xia Lei.
“Okay, this is no problem. She is German, and I will mention that during the negotiations. I think they will agree to it.”
“That’s it, then.”
“Goodbye, Boy.” Ling Han ended the call.
Xia Lei put down the phone, and his thoughts went back to their very first problem — Who had leaked the secret?