Cheers and calls rang out. The Paris International Weapons Exhibition was finally open. Dealers from all over the world, clients, and media personnel all poured into the exhibition centre. The various booths at the exhibition were crowded and it was lively.
The employees of Thunder Horse Group held their breaths in anticipation and expectation of the clients coming in to look around and place orders. However, those who came were not clients but a group of European reporters.
“You go handle them, Caiyue. I’ll hide for a bit.” Xia Lei slipped away.
Qing Caiyue looked speechlessly at Xia Lei’s retreating back, and muttered after a while, “Using me as a shield again. You want to make the buffalo work but you don’t want to give the buffalo grass…”
Who knew what buffalo and what grass she was talking about. *
A big group of European reporters flooded the Thunder Horse Military Factory exhibition booth.
Qing Caiyue walked up to them in welcome. “Our Director Xia is not around. I am his secretary, Qing Caiyue. Can I help you with anything?”
“Where did Mr Xia go?”
“I’m sorry, I do not know,” said Qing Caiyue. “You can ask me the questions you have.”
“Miss Qing, they say that your company’s weapons were modelled after German designs. Can you tell us more about that?”
Qing Caiyue paused.
“Miss Qing, does the Thunder Horse Group have just these three light weapons? Some media outlets say that Thunder Horse Group is the dark horse of the arms dealing world. Is this hype that the company built up?”
Qing Caiyue was livid.
“Miss Qing, we hear that your light weapons have fallen into the hands of terrorists, and they wreaked great havoc on the civilians in the Middle East. Can you comment on what is going on there?”
Qing Caiyue was speechless.
“Miss Qing, why is the director of Thunder Horse Group, Mr Xia Lei, not accepting interviews? What is he afraid of? Is there something that the Thunder Horse Group wants to keep hidden? Can you comment on it?”
It was a big group of reporters slinging difficult questions. Even one as talented with words as Qing Caiyue had no words to say in response. However, she understood why Xia Lei had told her to handle these reporters. The European media had always liked to smear the good name of China and Chinese companies, so why would they let Thunder Horse Group off?
It was not an easy thing to change how Europe viewed China and Chinese companies. This opinion was still widespread, and this was also evident of how difficult it would be to open up the European market. This was why Xia Lei had avoided these reporters. He knew that this would be the result, so there was no need to accept to be interviewed by these European reporters.
“Miss Qing, why aren’t you talking? Please answer our questions.”
“I don’t know.” Qing Caiyue was upset.
While the group of reporters swarmed about Qing Caiyue, a group of men in Arabian robes walked into the Thunder Horse Group exhibition booth. The one in the lead was Prince Khalifa.
Qing Caiyue had no excuse to lose these annoying European reporters, so she simply walked away from them. She walked up to the group of Arab men and said in English, “May I help you with anything, Sir?”
Prince Khalifa looked about. “Where is Xia Lei?”
“Our Director Xia…” Qing Caiyue glanced subconsciously at the rest lounge behind the exhibition booth.
Xia Lei was hiding in that rest lounge now, but she did not know if she should tell this Arab man that.
The door of the rest lounge opened suddenly and Xia Lei walked out.
“My friend.” Prince Khalifa smiled and walked over.
“Long time no see, Your Highness. How have you been?” Xia Lei went forward in welcome too. He had a warm smile on his face.
Your Highness? Qing Caiyue was stunned. She had not imagined that Xia Lei would have friends of this caliber.
Before Xia Lei and Prince Khalifa could exchange more words, however, the group of European reporters came gathering.
“Why did you hide away, Mr Xia?”
“Mr Xia, are you afraid of being interviewed by us? Can you tell us why?”
“Mr Xia, your products are said to be copies of German designs. Is this true?”
“Mr Xia, do you have private dealings to sell weapons to terrorist groups? Have you thought about the civilians and children’s suffering?”
“Mr Xia, I only see three light weapons in your exhibition booth. This amount of weapons do not qualify you at all for participation in the Paris International Weapons Exhibition. May I ask if you were able to participate in this exhibition because you bought a spot for yourself?”
The questions of the reporters grew more aggressive at Xia Lei’s appearance.
“My friend, what is with these people?” Prince Khalifa frowned. “Would you like my men to help you chase them out?”
“Thank you, but there is no need for that. Let’s just go somewhere else to talk,” said Xia Lei. The European reporters asked him a ton of questions but he did not feel like answering a single one. The questions were all just air to him.
“Sure. Let’s talk somewhere else.” Prince Khalifa said as he walked, “You actually know what I came here for, don’t you? I want your Hellhound One-soldier Cannon.”
“No problem. When have I ever rejected any of your purchase orders?”
“Heh heh, well then don’t tell me that I have to wait two years to get the Hellhound too.”
“How can that be? I will prioritise your purchase orders, Your Highness.”
The two of them chatted as they walked, and the European reporters followed closely behind them, asking their frustrating questions. They did not give up even when Xia Lei ignored them.
“The group of people behind us is quite annoying. Please, Your Highness, speak to my secretary about the purchase order. I will handle them.” They had not walked far when Xia Lei changed his mind.
“Of course. I shall talk to your secretary.” Prince Khalifa turned back to the Thunder Horse Group exhibition booth.
Xia Lei faced the group of reporters. “All right, I will accept to be interviewed. Please ask your questions one by one. I have just one mouth, so I can’t answer all of you at once.”
“Mr Xia, did you copy the designs of German weapons?” asked a reporter.
“Please raise your hand. I will answer only if you raise it,” said Xia Lei.
The reporter paused, but a colleague next to him raised his hand before he could, and asked a question. “Mr Xia, did you bribe the French officials in order to be able to participate in the Paris International Weapons Exhibition?”
Xia Lei laughed. “You dare to ask that? Aren’t you afraid of being charged by the relevant authorities?”
“France is a country of free speech. The people have the right to know the inside story.” The reporter looked righteous.
“I can very definitely tell you that the Thunder Horse Group is here today not through any sort of bribery.”
“How can that be? Given your scale, your company does not qualify to participate in this exhibition.”
“Then I have nothing more to say to you. If you got your hands on proof, you can report it.”
“Mr Xia.” The reporter who had not raised his hand earlier raised unwillingly now. “The same question again. Did the Thunder Horse Group copy German designs?”
“Your question is a hard one to take, but I am still willing to answer.” Xia Lei pointed in the direction of the Rheinmetall AG exhibition booth. “That there is the Rheinmetall AG exhibition booth. They represent the highest standards of German arms manufacturing. You say I copy German designs, but I have not received any allegations from Germany itself, and no protests from the Germans. You say I copied the Germans’ designs. The Germans themselves are not anxious about that, so why are you?”
The reporter who had asked the question had no words to say.
“Mr Xia.” Another reporter raised his hand. “The weapons of the Thunder Horse Group are playing a disgraceful role in the Middle East. A large number of civilians and children have met with harm. Can you tell me why the Thunder Horse Group is selling weapons to those terrorists?”
“Your question itself is a serious allegation,” said Xia Lei evenly. “We, the Thunder Horse Group, only sell to law-abiding governments and companies. We have never sold weapons to terrorist groups. If you have proof, you can sue me in the Hague Court. I will gladly take responsibility for what I should take responsibility for.”
“But your weapons have indeed ended up in the hands of the terrorist groups. Do you have any explanation for this?” The reporter who had asked the question was not giving up.
“From what I know, the largest terrorist organisations active in Iraq and Syria use mostly American-made weapons, American tanks, American armoured vehicles, American rifles, American grenades, and even American anti-tank missiles. Can I say that America is supporting them in secret, then?”
“This…” The reporter who had asked the question could not say anything more.
Xia Lei shrugged. “All right, I have no time to quibble with you guys now. I know that you won’t write nice things about me, and I don’t care if you paint me the villian. Write whatever you want. You guys are best at that, right?”
Xia Lei walked off. The group of reporters stayed, unwilling to leave.
Write whatever you want, I don’t care.
What was the use of interviewing when he said something like that!
Qing Caiyue shot Xia Lei an upturned thumb when he returned to the Thunder Horse Group exhibition booth. The smile on her face was especially cute and sweet. She then drew close to Xia Lei’s ear and said in a low voice, “Director Xia, your prince friend wants 20,000 Hellhounds. This purchase order is too large; I don’t dare sign it. You’d better talk with him.”
Xia Lei was surprised by Prince Khalifa’s appetite. 20,000 Hellhounds was not a small order. Each Hellhound cost 50,000 USD too, so Prince Khalifa’s order had already hit the amount of 1,000,000,000 USD. This was the biggest purchase order value that the Thunder Horse Group had ever received.
“My friend, you won’t disappoint me, will you?” said Prince Khalifa with a smile.
Xia Lei smiled wryly. “Sure, I will sign with you, but I need funds first. You will have to put down a deposit of 50% first.”
“No problem. I can make the transfer right now.” Prince Khalifa bent a finger, and an aide brought a notebook computer over.
Problems which could be solved by money were not problems to a prince of the UAE.
Prince Khalifa had barely just left when customers from South America came to the Thunder Horse Group exhibition booth.
Argentina wanted 10,000 Hellhounds, 50,000 Gust assault rifles, and 5,000 XL2500 sniper rifles.
Venezuela wanted 5,000 Hellhound, 20,000 Gust, and 1,000 XL2500 sniper rifles.
After bidding goodbye to the South American clients, more clients from the Middle East came.
Xia Lei was a little overwhelmed.
So what if the Thunder Horse Group had only three light weapons? Each weapon was the most advanced weapon of its type in the world. The heavy weapons of Europe and America were indeed very advanced, but the price of those was not something that anyone could afford. Furthermore, Europe and America may not necessarily sell the weapon even if the buyer could afford it. However, the Thunder Horse Group light weapons were different. They were not only cheaper but peerless in their categories. Third world countries could not afford the heavy weapons of Europe and America, so why not buy more of the light weapons from Thunder Horse Group?
This was actually also a development opportunity for the Thunder Horse Group!
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Also, just a reminder that I already told you all that I am only working on this as and when I can give it time. There are no regular releases for this. Thank you for your continued interest.