Blog: Dave LeggettOne world

Dave Leggett | 13 August 2003

Long chat earlier on the phone with Mark Bursa, a longtime publisher and journalist in the fish-bowl world that is automotive industry publishing. We sometimes bump into each other at industry events but we had the chance today for a good catch-up (read major gossip/bitch) as well as exchange of views about the industry and where it is going. As we wound our way around the issues of the moment and across the automotive world, one theme that seemed to emerge was the underlying politics of the global auto industry or at least the backgound landscape that companies have to work within. Here are a couple of examples. Iran: Japanese not especially liked (don't transfer technology, known to favour master-servant licensing arrangements), US out of it, French and Germans well in - Iranians aspire to pseudo-European status within their region and are the French and Germans causing a big fuss over Iran's nuclear programme? Not exactly.

China: human rights or more accurately, others' attitude to their abuse, is the key. The Japanese are not especially liked (regional superpower rivals, lots of history - Manchuria, rape of Nanking etc..). But for those pragmatic French and Germans? Let's do business and not worry too much about those nasty human rights issues. Softly, softly does it and whatever happens, don't embarass the Chinese - not good for business. Britain? Still carries colonial Hong Kong and Chris Patten baggage. Americans? Tough call - dollar good, but Bush administration seen as not friendly to China (eg Taiwan policy). Koreans? They also share a historical antipathy toward Japan and look up to the Chinese. Nice people to do business with. There'll be a lot more Sino-Korean trade and industrial cooperation in future years I think. Human rights? Workers' rights in China? What are they? Isn't there a great big carpet we can sweep that lot under?..


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