Chapter 549 - Shrewd Germans

If one took the ordinary intelligent lathes at Thunder Horse Military Factory’s workshops to be average soldiers, then this enormous integrated intelligent lathe would be equal to a general — a general and his troops, teaming up to form a powerful battalion. And the king of this battalion was Xia Lei. 

The king made a welcoming gesture. He was serene, and exuded confidence aplenty.

Josef strode toward the enormous intelligent lathe with pure surprise in his eyes.

The German party entered the room too, with Philip in the lead. They spoke to each other in low voices. Their astonishment at the sight of the enormous lathe was fairly apparent. 

Josef circled the machine once, and the surprise in his eyes grew. He was considered the global leader in this field, but the details he could see with his naked eye made him conclude that this giant composite lathe was the most advanced he had ever laid eyes upon. One would not be able to find a similar lathe in the entire world, not even in Germany or America. It could only be seen here! 

“What do you think, Josef?” asked Philip quietly from behind him.

“This… It’s a miracle,” said Josef excitedly.

This brief assessment shocked Philip and the other Germans.

“But I refuse to believe that China is able to manufacture such an advanced intelligent lathe,” added Josef.

It was common for there to be prejudice against the Chinese in Western countries, and this bias could not be changed easily with just one intelligent lathe. People sometimes chose to simply ignore and refuse to acknowledge the truth even if it were laid before their eyes. 

Xia Lei gently touched Annina’s arm and said to her, “Annina, go ahead and demonstrate its capabilities to them.”

Annina nodded obediently in response with a soft “nn” and moved towards the huge integrated intelligent lathe.

The enormous lathe was quickly activated by Annina. She entered a few instructions on the central computer and over 10 precision-machined parts were created in the short span of two to three minutes. These precision parts were the core pieces which made up the shock-absorbing mechanism of the Gust assault rifles.

Josef checked and measured the parts eagerly. When he was done checking, he stared dumbly, unable to say a word. 

“How is it?” Philip couldn’t wait for Josef’s evaluation.

Josef snapped back to his senses and said, “These are the most precise precision parts I’ve ever seen. I don’t believe it — there is virtually no difference between the parts.” After a short pause, he went on to say, “Mr Phillip, this is the most advanced intelligent lathe I’ve ever seen. We… we can’t manufacture a lathe like this.”

The Josef right then was like a warrior who had been defeated in an arena. He had lost his honour, and his confidence. He had still been suspecting that Xia Lei had stolen his technology earlier, but he had to bow his head to Xia Lei now.

“What technology do you think we should use in exchange with them, Mr Josef?” Philip spoke in a soft whisper. 

Josef replied just as quietly, “We meet their demands. We must take the technology of this composite intelligent lathe back with us. If we have a lathe like this, our manufacturing sector will grow stronger than it currently is. Some of the plans we cannot realise right now could become reality.” 

Josef quietly replied, “Fulfill their every demand. We must definitely bring the technology behind this lathe back. If we had an integrated intelligent lathe similar to this, our manufacturing abilities will be greatly strengthened. Certain designs that are currently impossible to manufacture could be realised.”

“Are you sure about this?”

“I’m sure, I swear”

“I know what to do, then.” Philip lowered his voice. “I’ll negotiate with them later. You can give your opinion, but say that their lathe is not that impressive. We want to pay the least we can to get the most we can.” 

“I understand what you mean. I know what I should say,” said Josef.

Their exchange did not escape Xia Lei’s eye, and his lip-reading skill. A faint smile appeared in the corners of his lips as he watched Josef and Philip whisper to each other. He then said a few lines in the ear of Ling Han, who was next to him. Ling Han said nothing but just nodded. 

After talking to Ling Han, Xia Lei smiled and said in German, “You’ve seen our lathe. What is the evaluation of your German expert?” 

Philip shot Josef a look.

Josef spoke in German. “It’s good, but not as good as I’d imagined. We can actually make this type of 500-ton composite intelligent lathe too. I believe that we would not produce an inferior machine if we were to make a similar intelligent lathe.”

Philip smiled. He did not say anything, but he was silently applauding Josef’s “evaluation”.

Annina couldn’t help herself and interrupted, “Josef, do you know what you’re saying? I a mechanic too, and I know the intelligent lathe you created. It is a far cry from this lathe!”

Philip glared at her. “Annina, do not forget that you are a German citizen!”

“I have never forgotten that I am one, but a true German is honest and just. I am disappointed in you, Josef. You’re lying!” said Annina. 

Embarrassment appeared on Josef’s face but he bit the bullet and said, “I’m telling the truth, Annina.” 

Annina made to say something more, but Xia Lei interrupted. “Enough, Annina.” 

Annina closed her mouth. 

“Mr Philip, I do not care if Mr Josef’s evaluation is true. I am sure of the value of my bargaining chip and I have shown my sincerity on the matter. It is now up to you,” said Xia Lei. 

“Mr Xia, are you meaning for negotiations to be done here?” said Philip. 

“Anything wrong with it?” said Xia Lei. 

“All right, please give us some time. We need to discuss this,” said Philip.

“No problem,” said Xia Lei.

The German party followed Philip to a corner of the workshop and lowered their voices in discussion. 

Ling Han wrinkled his brows. “These Germans are difficult to deal with. Will they agree to it?” 

Xia Lei smiled. “Relax, Brother Ling. Leave this to me.” 

“I am fully confident in you, but those Germans are very shrewd. I don’t think this negotiation will be successful,” said Ling Han. 

“The Germans are cautious and pragmatic, and this is known worldwide. However, few know that they are the most shrewd businessmen too. Their country was in shambles after World War Two but it is now the leader of Europe. This is proof,” said Xia Lei. 

“That’s right. I’m worried about this. This German party is like a team of merchants — it’s not easy to negotiate with them.”  

Xia Lei smiled and said, “But they’re up against me now. I am a businessman too. Brother Ling, leave the negotiations to me. I will get the greatest benefit for us.” 

Ling Han paused. “Leave the negotiations to you?”

“Let me try, at least. Our expert negotiators can make their move if I am unsuccessful,” said Xia Lei. 

Ling Han smiled wryly. “Fine, you punk. I’d like to see how you’ll negotiate with them.” 

Phillip led the Germans back to stand before the Chinese party after ten minutes. 

“Mr Xia, we have deliberated.” Philip went straight to the point. “Your integrated intelligent lathe technology is good, but it is not the best. You’re asking for the Eurofighter Typhoon engine technology in exchange for this and it’s not realistic. We are only willing to exchange the Leopard 2 tank technology for it.” 

Xia Lei shook his head and said “We have our own tank technology, and it is not inferior to yours. I refuse this trade.”

Philip’s expression turned ugly. “Be content with what you get, Mr Xia. Our Leopard 2 tank is the most advanced tank in the world.” 

“I refuse this trade,” said Xia Lei. 

“You…” Philip’s expression turned uglier. He hesitated, then said, “We’ll add the 3D-printing technology.” 

“We have that too. I refuse this trade.”   

“We’ll add the car engine technology. BMW, Mercedes, or Audi — take your pick.” 

“We have too many cars in this country. Even little battery-powered cars are faster than cars in the city. What is the point of such a powerful car engine? I refuse this trade.” 

Phillip was speechless.

Josef interrupted. “What is this attitude of yours, Mr Xia? This is a negotiation. We’re offering you all these advanced bits of technology. You should not miss this opportunity, and just accept. That would be the wisest choice to make.” 

Xia Lei shrugged. “You may leave now.” 

The members of the German party looked at each other in dismay. They had not expected Xia Lei to be so stubborn. Philip, in particular, was hoping to exchange the smallest output for the greatest gain. He did not expect that Xia Lei would tell them to leave, and at the beginning of the negotiations too! This attitude of his was simply an outright disregard for them, the party representing Germany!  

“Humph, if that’s the stance you have, then we’ll leave. Don’t you forget that Annina has to return to Germany with us!” Philip threw these words out, and turned to leave. 

The German party gave Xia Lei a glare, and followed Philip out. 

Annina stared at Xia Lei, flabbergasted. Her eyes were full of helplessness and hurt. 

Ling Han was at a loss too. He touched Xia Lei on the elbow and said in a low voice, “What’s wrong with you, punk? I left the negotiations to you and you chase them away not two minutes in? Do you know that we have fighter planes lacking engines, and that we have to import engines from Russia, under a whole lot of restrictions?” 

Xia Lei spoke mildly, “Relax. They’ll be back.” 

“Would they come back when you’ve stomped so hard on their toes?” Ling Han was a little angry. 

“They’ll come back and negotiate obediently with me by the time I count to ten,” said Xia Lei. 

“I’ll bet a hundred against that,” said Ling Han. 

Just as Ling Han finished his sentence, Philip stopped in his tracks and turned back from the door. 

Xia Lei held a hand out to Ling Han, palm up. 

Ling Han glared in annoyance at Xia Lei. “I’ll pay up later!” 

He did not understand how Xia Lei could be so confident, and have these shrewd Germans dancing to his tune. He would definitely not have bet against Xia Lei if he had known that Xia Lei could use his left eye and lip-reading to decipher the Germans’ private discussions. 

Xia Lei had never lost in business negotiations. 

And he was not going to lose this time either. 

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