And plenty of other automakers are doing the same.
Recently, Porsche dropped a splashy press release all about its “tailor-made development” strategy for the Chinese market. Ten years ago, such an announcement likely would’ve been met with resounding applause and congratulations. While in certain circles it undoubtedly has been received that way, in many others it’s been met with resentment, disdain, and outright mockery. Much has changed about the public’s awareness of what it means for Western companies to capitulate to the Chinese Communist Party.
See how badly a bear trashed a Range Rover here.
I can remember way back when I was in my undergraduate years being told by different people and seeing in the pages of Fortune, The New York Times, and other well-regarded publications that the Chinese had become true capitalists. Why, some declared with a laugh, in some ways they’re bigger capitalists than Americans. Oh if only that were true. The CCP, with the help of Western media, pulled off a tremendous PR move, marketing the communist country as free, open, even democratic. It was a grand ruse, one the West took hook, line, and sinker.
Today, we’ve seen the heavy-handed nature of the authoritarian government. Social media helped peel back that mask, despite some of the best efforts of those in Twitter, Facebook, and other platforms. Even the Great Firewall of China has prevented the leaking out of information about the many human rights abuses of the Middle Kingdom. I could dig into the details of what those abuses are, but there are many excellent in-depth reports on them, particularly from independent publications like The Epoch Times.
Despite these developments, automakers like Porsche still feel a strong allure to the Chinese market. After all, it’s the largest car market in the world! How could they possibly pass on such a lucrative business opportunity? That’s how the prevailing thought in the industry still goes, although it’s only a matter of time before it wanes and reverses.
To do business in China, most automakers must enter into a cooperative operation with a Chinese automaker. There are many justifications put forth for this arrangement, but it ultimately operates so the Chinese can learn the trade secrets of these foreign companies. Tesla is a rare example of a foreign automaker which has obtained an exception from this rule, still many believe the CCP is actively pilfering the secrets Elon Musk and his team have tried diligently to hide away.
When the ironically-named People’s Liberation Army does invade Taiwan, because it’s a matter of when not if, the CCP likely will shut down the borders and seize assets from foreign companies, probably all of them. This means every factory, every scrap of material, every vehicle component, everything automakers have in China. I wonder how many of these companies have planned for such an eventuality. We saw a preview of this when the CCP took over certain medical supply companies at the beginning of the pandemic.
When WWII first broke out, many of the trucks used by the Third Reich were Fords, along with some other foreign brands. Eventually, the socialist government in Germany seized the factories and used them to either keep producing the same vehicles or repurposed them for unique Teutonic designs. All our investments in the country eventually were used against us as we fought hard for every mile of Western Europe. To have the enemy use your own resources and ingenuity against you is truly insulting. Yet here we are possibly doing the same thing.
Back to Porsche capitulating to China: that splash press release talks about how the automaker has tailor-made technologies to accommodate the certain mode of life in China. It seems harmless enough, until you realize the communist government at a moment’s notice could seize everything for itself. If the foreigner Porsche employees are lucky, they’ll get out of the country alive. What a business opportunity. But the allure of sweet Yuans is too compelling for many automakers, like the siren’s song, entrancing them to what would otherwise be easily seen as assured doom.
Images via Porsche