Xia Lei and his group left the town of Werden the next day, and was escorted by the German Special Forces to Dusseldorf. This city was North Rhine-Westphalia's capital, Germany's advertisement, clothing and communication centre, as well as Europe's trade center. However, the Germans had not brought Xia Lei here to see clothing exhibitions. They brought him here because one of Germany's defense industry enterprises was here.
This defense enterprise was Rheinmetall AG.
Rheinmetall AG made Germany's tanks, combat vehicles and shipborne artillery. It represented Europe's precision manufacturing and it's most advanced forging and artillery techniques. The artilleries produced by this company were very popular in Europe and America. Even the two main tanks in America, the M1A1 and M1A2, used this company's main armament.
Although China invested a lot in the military industry and produced many useable products, they still weren't able to make artillery comparable to Rheinmetall AG. An example would be China's newest 99th type tank. Because of the limits of their forging techniques, the tank’s turret tilt angle was not good at all, as it was unable to reach the full 40 to 45 degree angle like the tanks from Rheinmetall AG. This in turn caused the tank's defense to be lowered and to be lacking in the gunnery system.
China's military industry very much wanted to obtain Rheinmetall's technology, but they had never succeeded. One could say that they were one of the military industry's overlords. Their technology and experience were in line with their arrogance. This company had also never partnered with any of China's enterprises before, not to mention sharing technology.
The only exception was Thunder Horse Military Factory. Xia Lei was now representing China's military industry.
Xia Lei was a bit surprised when he found out that he was going to Rheinmetall AG. He had thought that he would be going to Germany's HK Company, since that company also produced small arms and had a ready-made small arms production line and the relevant experience. However, it was this heavy military enterprise in the end.
HK Company and Rheinmetall AG were actually just like Thunder Horse Military Factory and China Industrial Group — both the former were smaller, and the latter a giant. It was actually quite easy to tell how much importance they put on this deal, because the Germans had picked the company Rheinmetall AG. They'd already put this deal in the hands of the higher levels with some strategy in mind.
Xia Lei and his group entered one of Rheinmetall AG's office buildings after going through several security checkpoints, and was asked to wait in a meeting room. A Rheinmetall employee made them coffee, and told them not to walk around before leaving.
This cup of coffee was almost finished, and still nobody came.
"This company sure is arrogant. We've waited here for so long and yet not a single chief person in charge has come to greet us. What is this?" Tang Yuyan was a little unhappy. "Lei, do you think they're treating us like this to prove something?"
Xia Lei thought for a moment. "Europeans have biases towards us and would not readily admit to our past successes. Many Europeans feel superior to us Chinese, but to what degree this racism extends to… it could mean something like you said. There’s no need to mind it. We do our thing, and let them be arrogant if they want."
Tang Yuyan laughed. "That’s some interesting talk."
"What are you trying to say?" Xia Lei asked.
"You're like my grandfather," Tang Yuyan replied.
Xia Lei only smiled and said nothing more. Tang Yuyan was always looking to start a conversation with him, but he did not feel comfortable in saying more to her in front of Annina and Long Bing.
Right then, Liu Zhengnan's phone rang. He took it out and looked at the screen, then stood up and said, "Director Xia, it's Sergey calling. Would you like to take the call?"
"No need. Your friend is truly talented, and his suggestions were good. I believe in your choice so I'll let you take care of this. Give your friend whatever he needs. He just needs to give me what I want," said Xia Lei.
"Thank you, Director Xia. I'll go out to take his call, then." Liu Zhengnan walked out of the meeting room.
"You trust him that much? You aren't afraid that he'll partner up with that German architect to cheat you of your money?"
Xia Lei smiled. "I believe in my judgement. He's not that sort of person."
"Then what sort of person am I to you?" Tang Yuyan looked straight at Xia Lei.
Long Bing and Annina both looked at Tang Yuyan's face.
Xia Lei was stunned too. He didn't think that Tang Yuyan would ask such a question at such a time, and in front of Long Bing and Annina too. He was not very concerned about Annina, but it was different with Long Bing. He really cared about how she would feel.
The atmosphere in the meeting room suddenly turned awkward.
"Why aren't you saying anything?" Tang Yuyan took a quick glance at Long Bing out of the corner of her eye. Compared to when she showed off the jewel necklace Xia Lei gave her in front of Shentu Tianyin, asking such a question in front of Long Bing was nothing.
"Um." After a short silence, Xia Lei finally said, "You're a pure person. Someone who doesn't have vulgar interests."
Tang Yuyan gave Xia Lei a look of speechlessness. She was itching to bite him.
"Pfft…” Long Bing laughed.
A blue-eyed blonde German walked in just then. He was no stranger to Xia Lei because he was Josef.
"Josef!" Annina said with a bit of surprise, "Why are you here?"
"I accepted the German government's request to be in charge of the inspection and acceptance work. I will be accompanying you for your time at Rheinmetall AG, until you leave," answered Josef.
Xia Lei’s brows knotted together. Not one of Rheinmetall AG’s persons in charge had come over to greet them, but they had sent a supervisor like Josef. He had not been bothered by the Germans’ arrogance earlier, but he could not contain his anger any longer now. He said in German, "What is the meaning of this? We came from China, and we are representing China. This is how you receive us? Who's in charge? Shouldn’t he come meet us?"
Josef replied flatly, "Mr Xia, is there a problem with me receiving your party? Or are you of the opinion that I don't qualify to receive you? Why don't I give our prime minister a call to let her come receive you?"
Annina said, "Josef, how can you talk in such a manner to Mr Xia?"
"Annina, I honestly don't know why you're following a Chinese man around. You're German, yet you're working for a Chinese person. Or maybe it’s not just work," said Josef.
Annina got mad. "What do you mean by that, Josef? You weren't like this in China. What’s with you?"
Josef’s attitude had been different in China. Although it couldn’t be said that he was respectful, he had his manners, at least. But right now, he wasn't even showing the most basic of manners.
‘Back when I was in Germany, Josef was already hostile towards me, and even got a boxer to intimidate me. His attitude reverted to this now, so could it be that... he knows that I'm the Lukas from back then? If that's true, he probably got this information from some channel,' thought Xia Lei.
If Josef was sure that Xia Lei was that Lukas from back then, he would suspect that Xia Lei had stolen his intelligent lathe technology. Xia Lei had also stolen Annina, the woman he had a crush on, away. Just based on these two things were enough to make him mad, and the fact that he hadn't used a big knife to cut Xia Lei was already a great amount of restraint he had put on himself. How could he still be respectful toward him?
This assumption about Josef gave Xia Lei a tingling of worry. Josef played an important role in this deal and he would definitely create some sort of obstacle. But this deal was extremely important to China.
"What do I mean?" Josef looked at Xia Lei, and his expression very unfriendly. "He should know!"
If this were a different situation, Xia Lei wouldn't have been so courteous to Josef, but he held it in this time. He smiled. "Mr Josef, you're Germany's top electrical engineer. It is quite appropriate for you to come receive us. We have no complaints."
"Lu… Mr Xia…” Annina quickly corrected herself.
Xia Lei shot Annina a look and interrupted her. "It's fine, Annina. No need to make a fuss over it."
Annina shut her mouth. She was very unhappy with Josef, but she always listened to Xia Lei. She would lie down if Xia Lei told her to lie down, and lie on her stomach if he told her to. If he told her to kneel, she'd kneel.
Josef lips curled into a sneer. "I don't know whether I should call you Lukas or Mr Xia. You Chinese are very sly. Sometimes even your identities are a puzzle."
Xia Lei wasn't angry at all. He put a smile on his face and said, "My last name is Xia. You can call me Xia Lei or Mr Xia — It’s up to you, Mr Josef. I’ll be fine with either."
"Hmph." Josef snorted. "Come with me, just you. The others have to stay here."
“Where are you taking me?” asked Xia Lei.
"Didn't you say that you want someone in charge to receive you? I'm taking you to see him right now."
Ling Han had personally received the German engineering team with sincerity when they had come to China. The situation was different for Xia Lei when he arrived in Germany, however. Just a small electrical engineer like Josef had come to receive them. Xia Lei even had to ask to see the person in charge, instead of the other party coming to see him. This arrogance if theirs was fairly apparent.
Xia Lei would not have tolerated it if this exchange had been for himself, but this was for the country, for the Eurofighter Typhoon engine production line, so he chose to endure it. He shrugged and said with a smile, "All right, Mr Josef, please lead the way."
Josef wouldn't talk to Xia Lei anymore. Before they left, he said to Annina, "Annina, we have to have a good talk."
"Josef, there's nothing for us to talk about. Nothing right now, and nothing in the future," said Annina angrily.
“You…” Josef was so angry that he could not say anything.
Xia Lei said, "You guys wait for me here, I'll be right back."
Long Bing and Tang Yuyan nodded in unison.
"Come with me, Mr Xia. I must warn you that the person you’re about to meet is Rheinmetall's CEO, Mr Mark Armin. He's someone who is fastidious about cleanliness. You need to wipe your leather shoes clean when you enter his office, including the soles,” said Josef.
Xia Lei smiled cheerily. "No problem."
Annina suddenly took out a tissue, and knelt down before Xia Lei without saying a word. She started wiping Xia Lei's shoes. Her movements were fluid and Xia Lei's shoes were soon sparkling clean. She blew a puff of air at the shoes, then smiled and said, "Mr Xia, there is no need for you to clean your shoes yourself, your shoes are already quite polished." She stood up and continued, "If they need you to clean off the dust on the soles, I will use my butt to rub it clean."
Xia Lei was speechless.
She was obviously trying to deal a blow to Josef.
Josef really was struck by this, and his face turned dark with anger. The woman whom he had liked and had yearned for had polished Xia Lei's shoes, and was even willing to use her butt to clean the dirt on the soles!
Tang Yuyan quietly gave Annina a thumbs up. It was the first time the great Miss Tang had approved of Annina.
There was no reaction from Long Bing, but her opinion of Annina improved. She was different from Annina in that she could die for Xia Lei, but she wouldn't clean his shoes for him.Previous Chapter Next Chapter