After they entered the office, Xia Lei said to Annina, “Go to the rest lounge and stay there. Come out only if I call you.”
“Nn.” Annina suddenly drew close, and kissed Xia Lei on the cheek before she went to hide in the rest lounge.
Xia Lei was afraid that she had left a lipstick mark, so he wiped his face with a tissue. The sat on the sofa after he straightened his clothing to wait for the Germans to arrive. He was organising what he wanted to say in his head too, and preparing himself to meet the negotiating party.
Lu Sheng led two Germans into the office a few minutes later.
They were a man and a woman, and they were both in their forties. The man was big and tall, taller than Xia Lei by a head, and he was emotionless, very serious. The woman was like Annina, with beautiful golden hair and a pair of silver-framed spectacles. She looked like the very knowledgeable sort.
Lu Sheng was about to speak when Xia Lei cut him off. “Lu Sheng, please go about your work. I shall receive these two guests.”
“Yes.” Lu Sheng turned and left Xia Lei’s office.
Xia Lei smiled. “I am Xia Lei. And you are…?”
The German man spoke. “Mr Xia, I am an ambassador from the German Embassy. My name is Philip. This is my colleague, Alida.”
The German woman named Alida nodded at Xia Lei in greeting. “Hello, Mr Xia.”
Whether it was Philip or Alida, their Chinese was excellent. Xia Lei was not surprised by this, because being familiar with the language and culture of another country was a most important requirement for one who worked in an embassy. He shook hands with Philip and Alida, and said warmly, “Ah, honoured guests from Germany. Please, have a seat.”
Philip and Alida sat, and Xia Lei poured tea personally for them.
“And what has brought you here as my guests today?” Xia Lei seated himself opposite them.
“Mr Xia, I shall go straight to the point. We are looking for Annina. Please ask her to come out and meet us,” said Philip.
“Annina?” Xia Lei put a surprised look on his face. “Do I have someone like that over here? How do I not know about this?”
“Hah.” Philip scoffed. “Stop the act, Mr Xia. We came in person, to you. This means we have already gathered enough relevant evidence.”
“Mr Xia, it is not wise to pretend to know nothing, or to stop us from meeting with Annina. We have come, with sincerity, and with the hope that we can settle this amicably. If you continue to act like you are unaware, then the problem will escalate. You do know that China and Germany have extensive cultural exchanges and trading collaborations. If this matter affects these connections, then it will only be detrimental to both sides,” said Alida.
“Are you two threatening me?” said Xia Lei mildly.
“Mr Xia, we cannot do anything about it if you want to take it that way,” said Philip.
Xia Lei wrinkled his brows. These two Germans were straightforward, and tough.
“Mr Xia, you are not a politician, but I must remind you that our countries currently enjoy a harmonious relationship, and working with each other will benefit both our countries. Furthermore, what we want is also very reasonable. Annina is one of our citizens, and we have to right to meet with her, and have some understanding of her situation to offer her the help she needs,” said Alida.
Xia Lei gave a laugh. “I’ll be frank too. Annina is indeed here, with me. It’s fine if you want to meet with her. However, you Germans put her on the wanted list in the past, and the Americans wanted her arrested too. She is my woman, and I must protect her. This is why I need to be clear about something — are the Americans involved in this?”
Philip and Alida exchanged looks.
Philip said, “Mr Xia, I can tell you with certainty that there are no Americans involved this time.”
“Then tell me — who leaked the information to you? This is very important to me,” said Xia Lei.
“Heh.” Alida scoffed. “Mr Xia, we’ve been here for a while but you haven’t let us see Annina. Yet you’re asking for lots of things. Don’t you think you’re being very insincere?”
Philip stood. “If this is how it’s going to be, then we shall escalate the problem to a higher level.”
Xia Lei smiled wryly. “Hold on.” He looked over at the rest lounge and said, “Come out, Annina. Come meet your comrades.”
The door to the rest lounge was opened, and Annina walked out. She was trying her best to control her emotions, but she still looked very nervous.
Xia Lei understood how she felt, because she was someone who had been put on a wanted list, and labelled as a betrayer of her country. A crime such as this was enough to get her thrown into prison for interrogation without a trial.
Annina sat next to Xia Lei, and she felt better next to him. She greeted Philip and Alida first. She smiled and gave one the impression of friendliness and peacefulness.
“How could someone like Miss Annina be a spy?” said Alida in German. “I do not believe the accusations. It is fortunate that we have corrected this mistake. Miss Annina, the crime you were charged with has been withdrawn. You are a legal German citizen, and you have all the rights of a German citizen, as well as the duties of a citizen.”
“That’s right. No one will harm you again.” Philip spoke in German too. “Miss Annina, return to Germany with us. Your home is in Germany, and your family and friends are in Germany. The government has offered one million euros as compensation, and you can use this money to do what you want to do. You should embrace your new life, your great life, not hide over here.”
The two German were quite obviously trying to work on Annina’s psyche, and they did not even bother about Xia Lei, who was next to her. Xia Lei was not worried, though. Annina was completely in love with him, and saw him as her angel. He was not worried about her leaving him just because of the words of these two Germans. As for that one million euros, it was nothing to him. He could give Annina ten million euros if she wanted it.
Annina kept her silence in the face of all their lobbying. She glanced at Xia Lei with her blue eyes once in a while.
The two Germans said many things, but the person they were talking to was not reacting much at all. She had not said a word after greeting them. This situation made the two Germans wrinkle their brows.
“You have to consider this carefully, Miss Annina. An opportunity like this won’t be valid forever. If you do not return to Germany, the charges against you will not be dropped. Our government will also pressure the Chinese government to make you return. When that happens, all the nice treatment you enjoy now will not be available again.” Philips’ words held a threatening edge.
“I…” Annina started to say, then stopped. She looked troubled, and uncertain. She looked at Xia Lei again.
Xia Lei reached out to grab Annina’s hand. He held her hand gently, and smiled as he said, “I understand what you said, Philip and Alida. What you mean is simple — Annina has to return to Germany with you, whether she is willing to or not. Is that right?”
“Yes. We have already gathered significant evidence. We can make it simple for Miss Annina. In this situation, even if you and Miss Annina are unwilling, we will still have a way to make your government have Annina sent back to Germany. There is no need for you to doubt that, because your country needs our support in your interests in Europe, and you will be unable to bear the consequences of losing our support.” Philip’s tone was hard.
“I don’t really follow politics but I know well that your wanting Annina to return to Germany has nothing to do with the government. Aren’t you after your own interests?” said Xia Lei.
Philip and Alida were expressionless.
Xia Lei went on. “I’ll be frank. What you want is actually the technology of the XL2500 sniper rifle and the Gust assault rifle, isn’t it?”
“I am an ambassador of Germany. I am only doing my job. I do not know what you are talking about,” said Philip.
Alida shrugged. “I am just Mr Philip’s assistant. I have no idea what you’re talking about either. I do think that it is not just that. Germany is the global leader in manufacturing. What I’m trying to say is that… Would we, Germany, be concerned about the light weapons technology in China?”
Xia Lei gave a laugh. “Your German HK company was defeated by me in Moscow. This company with several clients of their own had become my company’s client too. German manufacturing is indeed the best in the world, but you cannot be the best forever. China used to be the leader in technology for thousands of years, but we had our downfall too. We Chinese are a hardworking and clever people, and if we could be a world leader once, we can be a world leader again. We are in a state of revival now, and no one can stop us, not America, not Europe. From what I see, Thunder Horse Military Factory is one such example. The XL2500 and Gust rifles have become the world’s top guns, have they not?”
“What are you trying to say, Mr Xia?” A faint mocking smile appeared in the corners of Philip’s lips. “I understand that you are a clever and hardworking race, but what we are discussing today is the matter of Miss Annina returning to Germany. What is the meaning of you talking about this?”
“Mr Philip, I can say with certainty that you have miscalculated. Even if you bring Annina back to Germany, you will be unable to get the technology of the XL2500 and Gust rifles. Annina did work on the designs, but she was only in charge of the initial designs. I am the person who is responsible for the core technology. I am China’s Father of Rifles, so the person you are looking for is me, and not Annina.”
Philip and Alida couldn’t help exchanging looks, and the look in their eyes grew complicated.
Xia Lei had exposed their motive. It was true. They were indeed aiming for that. No country did not want the technology of the world’s leading guns, the XL2500 and the Gust rifles. This technology did not just represent a boost of profits, but a boosting of national battle power too. From their perspective, they would be able to get their hands on the technology by taking Annina, who had been involved in the design of the guns, back to Germany. However, Xia Lei was now telling them that Annina was only in charge of the basics, and not the core technology. So what was the use to taking Annina back with them?
Annina couldn’t help giving Xia Lei a look, because she knew that he had lied. She knew the core secrets of both the XL2500 and the Gust rifles.
“Heh heh…” Philip laughed all of a sudden. “You are a clever businessman, Mr Xia. My mother taught me that one has to be extra careful when dealing with businessmen. Why do you think I will believe what you say?”Previous Chapter Next Chapter