The members of the German negotiation party were in the workshop to have a tour of the production line, and surprise was written on every one of their faces. The impression of most Westerners was that China manufactured socks and shirts, and the cheap vuvuzelas in football games. As for weapons, those were either modelled after Russian weapons, or European and American ones — not worth mentioning at all.
However, Thunder Horse Military Factory’s advanced production line, thought-out layout and clean production environment caught their attention. It was different from what they had expected, and their feelings about this situation became rather mixed.
China’s development was not all well-received by everyone, because this development threatened the interests of the Western countries. This was why a technology blockade had been enacted, and there were trade barriers, and all sorts of discrimination and unfairness. However, even under a technology blockade, a small Chinese light weapons manufacturer had managed to break out of these restrictions, and become a global-class dark horse in the industry!
Looking at the advanced production line of Thunder Horse Military Factory, and the finished XL2500 sniper rifles and Gust assault rifles in the workshops, the Germans were glum. How could they be happy?
Members of the German party included firearms experts, as well as top electrical engineers and machinists like Josef. They quickly entered work-mode, and walked about the workshop, inspecting every machine on the production line in earnest. Some even started up machines and tested them out.
Ling Han drew close to Xia Lei’s side and said in a low voice, “Lei, would they be able to steal your company’s technology like this?”
Xia Lei gave a laugh and also lowered his voice. “Don’t worry, Brother Ling. My technology can’t be stolen just by looking and operating the machines for a bit. If they want my technology, they will have to give something of equal value in exchange for it.”
Ling Han clapped Xia Lei on the shoulder and relaxed. “I feel assured by your words. We shall negotiate with them after their tour of the place is done. Sit next to me, and do not declare your position on the matter yet. I will give you a signal when it’s needed.”
Xia Lei nodded.
Just then, Josef suddenly exclaimed, “How is this possible?” He had just processed a small item with an intelligent lathe.
Annina walked over. “What seems to be the problem, Josef?”
“Many parts of this lathe’s design feels familiar to me. Hm. What I’m trying to say is that this is quite similar to the intelligent lathe I designed. But its capabilities are a bit better than the one which I had designed,” said Josef.
Annina gave a laugh. “Josef, BMW and Mercedes-Benz are both automobile manufacturers. The cars they manufacture have four wheels, an engine and a steering wheel. I think the similarities you’re talking about is something like this. They’re both intelligent lathes, so there are sure to be similarities.”
But Josef shook his head. “No. I know about some unique parts of the design, and these are unique. Your metaphor cannot be applied to this.”
Philip walked over. “Have you discovered a problem, Mr Josef?”
“The lathes here are very similar in design to the intelligent lathe I’ve designed. This is quite odd, since a lot of these design parts are unique.”
“And the performance?” Philip glanced surreptitiously at Xia Lei, and that glance was tinged with suspicion.
Josef was silent for a bit before he said, “The lathes here are more advanced than the one I designed, and more perfect.”
Philip drew close to Josef’s ear and he whispered, “Let me ask you — will you be able to upgrade our intelligent lathes to the same standards of the lathes here after taking a look at their machines?”
Josef thought for a bit, and said, “The intelligent lathe I designed is already very advanced. To make it even more so is a very difficult matter. I’ve been trying and trying but I haven’t managed to increase its capabilities, but this intelligent lathe has gone beyond the level of mine. This is quite unexpected. You ask me if our lathes can be upgraded, and this is my answer. I cannot see the internal design, and its electrical circuits, so I cannot do it unless you get the design plans, and an intelligent lathe like this.”
Philip was fairly disappointed. After all these, they still needed to negotiate. It would have been best for him if the experts he had brought would have been able to discern the secrets of Thunder Horse Military Factory’s from a look, and let them be able to obtain the technology without giving anything in exchange, but it was wishful thinking. It would be a different matter, however, if the experts like Josef had X-ray vision like Xia Lei did.
“But Mr Philip,” whispered Josef in his ear, “If they want to exchange this technology for the Eurofighter Typhoon technology, then it’s not worth it for us. If you agree to this exchange, it’ll be like exchanging a kilogram of diamonds for a kilogram of gold.”
Philip scoffed. “You don’t have to worry about that. We have prepared plenty of options for them. There’s 3D-printing technology, car engine technology and some avionics too. If what they’re offering is just that, then they can only get something of equivalent value. We do not have more money than sense.”
Xia Lei watched their exchange and lip-read what they said, then whispered the contents of their conversation to Ling Han.
Ling Han wrinkled his brows. “3D-printing technology? We’re not inferior to the Europeans and Americans in that. As for the car engine technology, that’s not what we want. Avionics technology may have some value, but not in this exchange. If we cannot get the Eurofighter Typhoon engine technology, then these negotiations are done.”
Xia Lei glanced at Annina and asked, “What about Annina, Brother Ling?”
“If the negotiations fall through, she’ll be brought back to Germany. You have to understand that we will not butt heads with the leader of the European Union over a woman. Lei, you have already done what you should have. She will understand if you cannot help her.”
Xia Lei thought for a bit. “And if I can make the deal happen?”
“That’ll be no problem then. But what do you plan to do?”
In truth, he was not optimistic of the outcome of these negotiations even though he was personally leading the party in negotiations. They were trying to negotiate for the Eurofighter Typhoon engine technology after all. The Germans would be under pressure from the EU and the US, and would also have to deal with the rise of China. If they had nothing to interest the Germans, would they bear this pressure from their allies to exchange the technology of the two guns and a better intelligent lathe for the Typhoon? Of course not.
“Yeah, watch me.” Xia Lei uttered that one line, then walked over to the whispering Philip and Josef.
“He’s here. Let’s stop talking.” Philip spotted Xia Lei walking over and immediately stopped whispering to Josef.
Josef looked at Xia Lei, and his eyes were full of confusion and suspicion. He had long suspected that “Lukas” and Xia Lei were the same person, and he also suspected that Xia Lei had stolen the technology of his intelligent lathe. However, he had no proof.
“Heh heh, Mr Josef, I know you are Germany’s top electrical engineer, and an excellent machinist too. You are an expert in this. So how are our lathes?” Xia Lei went straight to the point.
“Quite good,” said Josef. “They are indeed more advanced, but I have to be honest — if you want to use it in exchange for our Typhoon engine technology, then you’re being way too naive.”
Philip watched Xia Lei’s reaction.
Xia Lei chuckled. “Mr Josef, you are an expert indeed. What I want to tell you is that the lathes you’ve been looking at are the lowest-level intelligent lathes we have in Thunder Horse Military Factory.”
Josef stared blankly. “The lowest level?”
Xia Lei shrugged. “Why else would it be on the production line for the processing of handgun parts? You think we’ll use this sort of intelligent lathe technology to exchange for the Typhoon technology? I don’t make such low-class jokes.”
“I don’t believe that there can be a more advanced lathe,” said Josef.
“Because that’s impossible!” Josef said rudely, “I admit that the intelligent lathe here is more advanced than the intelligent lathe I had researched and built, but there are limits to how advanced it can be. I am sure that this is at the limit, and it is impossible for you to surpass this foundation!”
Xia Lei spoke evenly, “You do not believe it because of your bias towards my country’s manufacturing capabilities. We did indeed lag behind for a period of time, but this does not mean that we would stay there.”
A look of displeasure traced Philip’s face. He could not be bothered to spar verbally with Xia Lei, and he was sure of his judgement. There was no way China could produce an intelligent lathe more advanced than this, not with the current manufacturing levels!
“Mr Xia, you said you would not make low-class jokes, but from what I see, this is a low-class joke. Our experts have flown in from the other end of the globe, but we have not seen your most advanced bit of technology yet,” said Philip.
“There’s no need to get anxious. Please come with me.” Xia Lei put a smile on his face, and made a gesture of welcome.
Philip and Josef exchanged glances, and did not move.
“What, you don’t even have the courage to have a look?” said Xia Lei with a laugh.
“I’ll go with you,” said Josef.
The large group of Germans and the group led by Ling Han left the first workshop, following Xia Lei, and came to another workshop.
This workshop was smaller than the other workshops, and the alloy doors were locked tight. One could not see inside it.
“Open the door, Annina,” said Xia Lei.
Annina pursed her lips in a sweet smile at Xia Lei, walked up to the door and entered the passcode into the electrical code lock, and positioned her eye in front of a retinal scanner. The door opened slowly after all these steps were taken.
A behemoth entered the field of vision of everyone as soon as the doors were opened.
Josef’s mouth opened wide in that instant, and he could not close it.
This huge lathe was the heart of Thunder Horse Military Factory. Whether it was the stabilising system of the XL2500 sniper rifle or the load-bearing shock absorption of the Gust assault rifle, it all had to be processed here. The only ones who could enter this workshop were the core engineers and machinists of Thunder Horse Military Factory, with Annina at their helm!Previous Chapter Next Chapter