There were three people in the office. Xia Lei knew Philip and his assistant, Alida, but he never would have guessed who the third person would be. It was Sylvia ー the European equivalent of Szlamy, and Germany’s best engineer.
Practically nothing had changed about her. Her wine-red hair was pulled into a simple ponytail, which paired beautifully with her refined, Eastern features. She was so beautiful she could’ve been mistaken for a doll.
This extraordinary red-haired woman before Xia Lei made him think of what had happened during his second visit to Germany.
“We meet again, Mr Xia.” Sylvia smiled as she took the initiative to extend her arm for a handshake. “How have you been?”
Xia Lei snapped out of his daydream, and took Sylvia’s hand while returning the smile with his own. He replied in German, “Hello, Miss Sylvia. I’m doing well. Welcome to China.” He paused, then continued, “Rest assured. You’re no longer in Germany so there won’t be any government-directed kidnappings, terrorist attacks, or persecution either.”
Everything he had said was, in fact, what the German government was guilty of.
Philip’s expression grew awkward. He was standing here as a representative of the German government. Xia Lei saying all that in front of Philip was making it difficult for him to broach the subject he wanted to discuss.
“Mr Xia, I am very pleased to meet you again.” Whatever he felt, Philip still put on a polite face, greeted Xia Lei, and also shook hands with him.
Xia Lei invited the three Germans to take a seat after exchanging pleasantries.
Liu Zhengnan made coffee for the three Germans, and tea for Xia Lei. Xia Lei hadn’t recruited any secretaries, so his assistant had assumed these responsibilities as well.
“Have the human resources department recruit a secretary,” said Xia Lei. In the past, he never thought there was anything wrong with letting Liu Zhengnan do these things, but he was Xia Xue’s boyfriend now, and a potential brother-in-law. He felt it was no longer appropriate to make him fulfil such duties.
Liu Zhengnan was very attentive to Xia Lei’s worries, and he said softly, “It’s fine, Brother, but you should definitely recruit a secretary. I’ll talk to the human resources department and let them pick a suitable one for you. Do you have any particular requirements?”
“I don’t really have any requirements, as long as they as they have a good work ethic and can speak a foreign language,” said Xia Lei.
Liu Zhengnan left with Xia Lei’s description in mind.
“Talk.” Xia Lei went straight to business after his assistant left. “What brings you three here?”
“Hehe, so it’s like this...” Philip smiled and said, “We’ve specifically brought Sylvia over for an inspection and technology exchange.”
“An inspection and technology exchange?” Xia Lei’s gaze went to Sylvia. “Just you?”
Sylvia nodded. “Mm, just me.”
Xia Lei smiled. “You represent Rheinmetall AG, right? I never received any sort of official invitation from them, but now you’re telling me that you’re just going to waltz in and do an inspection and technology exchange. Did I ever agree to this? It wouldn’t pan out even if I agreed, anyway. The higher-ups need to approve it too.”
Thunder Horse Military Factory was home to a plethora of technologies, and a substantial amount of the equipment found on-site were classified military secrets. Rheinmetall AG would certainly need high-level authorisation in order to send a representative over to inspect the place. Even if Xia Lei was the director of Thunder Horse Military Factory, he did not have the authority to allow their plan.
“Well…” Sylvia looked at Philip.
Philip quickly glanced at Alida, who took out a file from her briefcase, and delivered it to Xia Lei with both hands.
Xia Lei looked over the file and furrowed his brow. The person who had signed the document allowing Sylvia to enter Thunder Horse Military Factory was actually Yu Shanhe. He had the power to authorise this. However, the actual contents of the document were very simple. There was nothing else written in it other than the permission for Sylvia to come for the described inspection and technology exchanges.
‘This is... strange. Even if Yu Shanhe wanted to mess with me, he wouldn’t be so stupid as to allow Germany’s leading ammunitions supplier to send people over so that they could learn from me. This isn’t much different from selling out our country. Could the higher-ups have reached a business deal with the German government?’ thought Xia Lei to himself.
“You see, Mr Xia, we’ve already obtained their approval. So now, we’d like you to cooperate with us in this very fortunate occurrence,” said Philip.
“Fortunate? Heh, I don’t believe this is ‘fortunate’ at all. And even if Yu Shanhe agreed, I haven’t. Thunder Horse Military Factory is my personal company. Do you think Yu Shanhe is going to make my decisions?”
“You…” An ugliness crept onto Philip’s face.
Sylvia was also anxious. “Mr Xia, I know you took what happened in Germany to heart, but that had nothing to do with me. I’m just here for what we talked about. Iー”
Ring ring ring, ring ring ring…
Sylvia was interrupted by Xia Lei’s ringtone.
Xia Lei checked his phone and walked towards the door. He answered the phone when he got to the doorway.
“Xia Lei, the Germans have arrived on your end, right?” Tang Tianlong’s voice came from the phone.
“What’s going on here, Uncle Tang?” Xia Lei cut straight to the chase. “I saw the document Yu Shanhe signed, but it didn’t outline the reason why they were allowed. Sylvia is Germany’s most renowned engineer, and she represents Rheinmetall AG, which is more powerful than any other German military company. Do you understand the importance of this matter?” said Xia Lei.
“Of course I understand. I called to tell you why this is happening. You saw that Yu Shanhe was the one who signed the document, all right, but he wasn’t necessarily the one who finalised the deal,” said Tang Tianlong.
“Then who was it?”
“Don’t ask. Let me just tell you the reason. This is still a business deal, and the Germans will send technical staff to assist us in manufacturing the Eurofighter Typhoon Engine,” said Tang Tianlong.
“Wasn’t that production line completed?”
“It’s complete, but our people can’t mass produce it. The staff just aren’t mature enough to tackle it. We could get things going after they fumble about for a while, but if Germany’s helping us, then the results would be undisputedly better. You know they wouldn’t write something like that on the document.”
“So that was the reason. Fine, then there’s no problem on my side.” Xia Lei never turned away something that would benefit the country.
Why did he stop talking? Xia Lei’s heart thumped. “Uncle Tang, if you have something to say, just say it.”
“I’m telling you this in private, so you need to keep your mouth shut.”
“Yeah, I won’t tell anyone.”
“That German person, Sylvia’s coming to your factory is only the first part of the deal. The Germans are going to send another group, comprised solely of tech specialists, and inspect every nook and cranny of your factory.”
Xia Lei knitted his eyebrows. He actually wasn’t afraid of Sylvia. Despite how capable she was, she was only an engineer; she was only good at processing the parts. It was a completely different story if a whole group of specialists entered the Thunder Horse Military Factory.
Rheinmetall AG’s technology was the foundation for Thunder Horse Military Factory’s improved artillery, tank, and defense technologies. If a group of highly sophisticated technicians came, there was no guarantee that highly-classified technological secrets wouldn’t be stolen. If Rheinmetall AG also upgraded their production line, Thunder Horse Military Factory would no longer have an easy path to dominating the world market.
“There’s more.” Tang Tianlong paused before he continued, “When the Germans leave, they want to take a Thunder Dragon intelligent lathe with them. Of course, it’ll only be the first generation model, not the second.”
“They’re taking a Thunder Dragon intelligent lathe? Then Rheinmetall AG can begin the production line for the XL2500 and the Gust assault rifle that I built in Germany. Do you know what that means?” Xia Lei’s voice was bursting with rage.
“I know you’re mad, but… You need to understand what your sacrifice this time will bring us.”
“What will the Germans sacrifice?”
Xia Lei paused.
The Germans were the first to use submarines in battle. During World War II, the German U-boat had proved to be an outstanding military asset, and after the war, many countries based their submarine technology on the Germans’. Even now, Germany was still a leader in conventional submarine technology. Their submarines were so discreet that they were nearly impossible to detect. German submarines were silent, deadly killers, and the bane of large warships. If China could obtain such advanced technology, the country and people would benefit greatly.
“You know that our waters are chaotic, and our submarine technology falls behind Europe and America. Even Japan is far ahead of us in the field. This is our big chance, and we need your help. I won’t talk about honour or merit, since I know you don’t care about these things. But I know what you are. You’re a patriot. You want power and peace for our country, don’t you?”
Xia Lei was quiet for a bit before he finally spoke. “You guys have told me to sacrifice for the greater good time and time again, and I always have. I’ve never asked anything of you, but I will this time. You guys need to fulfil my request before I agree to this.”
“What is it? Speak your mind.”
“I’ll tell you in three days. That’s all I can say right now,” said Xia Lei.
“All right, we’ll discuss it in person.” Tang Tianlong hung up.
Xia Lei turned around and returned to his office with a smile on his face. “Miss Sylvia, I will have someone arrange for your accomodations in a bit. We have a VIP guest room specially prepared for honoured guests.”
Sylvia was stunned at the sudden display of hospitality. She then smiled too. “I knew you’d agree, Mr Xia. I don’t want to stay in a guest room, though. I heard from Annina that you have a villa nearby that she used to live in. Can I stay in her room?”
So she had actually talked with Annina first, and went so far as to request to use her room... Just what was going on?
“Is there a problem?”
Xia Lei shrugged. “No problem.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter