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Old June 6th, 2006, 05:19 AM   #81
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AcesHigh
/\ as far as I know, the japanese track is also 30km long, and the train arrives 500 km/h. So the difference is not speed, but aceleration?
Maybe. However the Japanese train is only running on a test track. Transrapid's Maglev has achieved higher speeds on its own test track in Germany (I don't know how long that is exactly but I doubt it's much more than 30km....) so presumably they limited the service speed in Shanghai for reasons of comfort or convenient operation. I have taken the journey in Shanghai several times. The Maglev accelerates and then only spends about 1 minute at the maximum 430km/h speed before it starts to decelerate again. The whole journey only takes about 8 minutes start-to-finish.
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Old June 6th, 2006, 05:22 AM   #82
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Monkey
^ I think Chinese demands for technology transfer are unreasonable. I think Western firms should learn their lesson and refuse to enter the Chinese market on such bad terms. It's no good entering into some joint venture whereby the local (Chinese) partner just steals all the technology and then breaks the venture and goes off to make the goods at a fraction of the price. What's in that for Western firms? It's just a recipe for their future destruction. China's market may be tempting but if it comes at that kind of cost then it's just not worth it. You need to be able to trust your business partners and too many Westren firms have found that they cannot do so. In my opinion Transrapid should focus on selling Maglev in western countries. Car manufacturers should set up assembly plants in countries that do not so blatently rip them off. If China can produce comparable goods using its own technological advances then good for them but I think Western firms should be very cautious about transfering their technologies to Chinese partners if this is the way they behave. Perhaps Western firms would be better off investing their efforts in other expanding markets such as SE Asia or India.
The problem is Western countries won't bite the maglev cost. This is a classic example of supply/demand power. China has the power to get large concessions from the West, and it will rightfully negotiate so, just as the West will exercise its power to get the best concessions for itself if it is capable of doing so.
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Old June 6th, 2006, 05:38 AM   #83
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hkskyline
The problem is Western countries won't bite the maglev cost. This is a classic example of supply/demand power. China has the power to get large concessions from the West, and it will rightfully negotiate so, just as the West will exercise its power to get the best concessions for itself if it is capable of doing so.
Yes but here we have an example of Chinese engineers breaking into the Transrapid depot at night to serruptitiously steal technical information! That doesn't sound like it was negotiated! That sounds like downright intellectual property theft!! Right now Germany/Transrapid is indeed exercising its power and saying "no". Given their rough experience I can hardly blame them.

When I was last in Beijing I met this French analyst whose job it was to assess the value of investments made by Western firms in developing countries. He told me that over and again Western firms are lured in by the prospect of new markets, the "China hype", and then get their fingers burnt. China is notorious for local partners making off with technologies transferred from their Western partner and then breaking off from the joint venture to make almost identical goods by themselves at a cheaper price. He cited the example of a French car company (Citroen?) that had sold taxis to the city of Beijing. They made good sales for a couple of years but now they are now in a situation where they will hardly sell another car in China as its former partner was now knocking off almost identical cars at a much cheaper price.

It's not just China. BP signed a huge deal in Russia, a real coup, but the Russian government then reneged on the deal after BP had invested the money. That kind of activity scares off investors. Personally I think Western firms are naive. They assume that because China is a member of the WTO that their rights will be protected. But time and again they are shown to be wrong. The contracts they sign turn out to worth little or nothing. They get ripped off and exploited. Personally I don't think they should bother. China is an attractive market but it's too risky.... and there are lots of alternative expanding markets that offer much better investment terms.
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Old June 6th, 2006, 06:35 AM   #84
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I look at it this way: China is going to develop commercially-viable maglev whether Transrapid/Thyssen-Krupp cross-licenses the patents to them or not. If they license the patents, they'll at least be able to collect royalties from maglev-related technologies sold in the US and Europe over the next decade or two, even if they're shamelessly and openly pirated within China itself. On the other hand, if they refuse to license the patents, and the Chinese engineers come up with their own solutions, TR/T-K and the German government won't see a dime once Chinese maglev technology hits the market in the US and Europe at prices Thyssen-Krupp can't even fantasize about competing with.

The truth is, if the Chinese want to pirate the technology for domestic use, there isn't a thing Germany, Transrapid, Thyssen-Krupp, or anyone else can do to stop them. Rationally, it's in TR/T-K's best interest to ensure that any Chinese maglev implementation is thoroughly seeded with German IP so they can at least cash in once maglev becomes one of China's exports.
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Old June 6th, 2006, 06:54 AM   #85
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Quote:
Originally Posted by miamicanes
That's certainly your perogative, but I happen to think it's a fairly accurate prediction of the likely development of maglev in the United States... launched by a well-funded private company who cuts every corner they can without openly sacrificing safety (just robustness and reliability... the things they can't get sued for...), concentrating their capital on expanding the system's reach rather than improving its capacity and reliability to tap as many new premium-fare markets as possible... then having the dead hand of government come lumbering in at some point, hemmorhaging fistfulls of money everywhere, and turning it into nasty, dirty, public transportation (like air travel has become).

If availability and reliability don't matter to the company as much as extending reach and saving money, then yes, they will build huge swaths as single-track. Hell, just about all of the railroads in America are single-track anyway... and a horrifying percentage of them were actually single-tracked (at least over expensive bridges) during the golden age of rail a century ago (to the endless horror and criticism of Europeans, and plenty of Americans, who viewed the American railroad industry as reckless, suicidal, greedy, or all the above).

With computer control and intricate scheduling, a single-track line with well-placed passing zones could work VERY efficiently, and save the maglev company a shitload of cash up front, keeping it profitable and enabling it to aggressively expand into new markets. The only problem is that such a system will be vulnerable to service disruptions at least once or twice a year... if not more. But on the other 363 days, it'll be making money hand over fist. And to Wall Street, that's all that matters. I'm not saying that's necessarily good... just acknowledging that in the US, that's how things are, have always been, and will always be.

Now, in Canada or Europe, you're right. A single-tracked line would never happen. It would be considered insane. But that's part of the reason why there will probably be maglev service between L.A., Miami, and New York at least a decade or two before there's direct maglev service between Vancouver and Toronto. In America, it'll get built the moment someone can find a way to do it cheap and make money (or at least convince Wall Street they can). In Canada, it won't get done until they can afford to do it "right" and "responsibly."
It is true that Canada loves to study things to death and rebirth before they consider doing anything. However, keep in mind the reason that rail service has always been shit in the U.S. is two main reasons - 1, the railways are dominated almost entirely by freight railways outside the NE Corridor, and 2, the oil industry put in a lot of hard work to stop the railroad "dead in its tracks" to favour the automobile and later the airways. Sweden suffered from the 1st cause as well, and have single track stretches in many parts of the country, despite being part of Europe. Sweden's geography is partly responsible for this.
There's another 3rd reason for railway service remaining shitty in North America, and it is not so much geography as it is population demographics. The coasts are ripe for the picking, but LA-NYC is a tricky one, as there is nothing much in between the two.
There is a way to make maglev very profitable, albeit there are many critical factors to consider, and this is done in the same principle/foundation as any other business. I will leave you with your thoughts on what I mean (it's more fun that way).
BTW, I do agree that the government is fabulous at ******* up railways.
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Old June 6th, 2006, 01:56 PM   #86
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^ Maybe you're right. To reach that conclusion we have to assume that China really can develop those technologies by itself. If Transrapid suspect that they can't then it would be better to dump China. The lesson for Western firms in the future is surely that it's better not to get entangled with these dodgy technology transfer deals in the first place. If that means investing in markets elsewhere then so be it. Most manufacturers go to China not so much for China's domestic market but rather to manufacture cheaply and then export back to the West. However at this cost it's not worth using China.
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Old June 6th, 2006, 06:15 PM   #87
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It's no secret that China's investment environment is far different from the West. Western companies are not forced to do business in China. They choose to enter into contracts with the understanding that there is risk involved.

Manufacturing using low-cost labour isn't as profitable as selling technology outright such as maglev, or the bullet train technology. Germany didn't hesitate to build the demonstration line connecting Pudong airport in Shanghai, with the hope that they can collaborate with China to build more lines such as the planned Hangzhou project. Over time, China is capable of doing its research and getting there. But in the meantime, Germany can sell part of its technology to profit at least a bit from it while they're still ahead of the curve, or they may stay away and not get a dime in profit altogether. Needless to say, Germany isn't willing to do that, hence all these arguments about technology transfer.

The fact is, Western companies are engaging with China more and more these days at their own will. Nobody's pointing a gun at them to invest in China and open factories there.
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Old June 6th, 2006, 07:19 PM   #88
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Politics. Cold War. Fortunes, dynasties, power, all built on the realities of the Cold War between the Democratic US and the Socialist USSR. Only that fell apart, and then everything went haywire.

There are still a lot of people around who remember how easy it was to profit from the cold war. People ho understood how to use all the propaganda, inuendo, and accusations back and forth to keep themselves in power and to feed their bank accounts. Since the USSR has essentially disintegrated, it needed to be replaced - and China makes a perfect substitute.

Take everything - both sides - with a grain of salt.
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Old June 6th, 2006, 08:40 PM   #89
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hkskyline
It's no secret that China's investment environment is far different from the West. Western companies are not forced to do business in China. They choose to enter into contracts with the understanding that there is risk involved.

Manufacturing using low-cost labour isn't as profitable as selling technology outright such as maglev, or the bullet train technology. Germany didn't hesitate to build the demonstration line connecting Pudong airport in Shanghai, with the hope that they can collaborate with China to build more lines such as the planned Hangzhou project. Over time, China is capable of doing its research and getting there. But in the meantime, Germany can sell part of its technology to profit at least a bit from it while they're still ahead of the curve, or they may stay away and not get a dime in profit altogether. Needless to say, Germany isn't willing to do that, hence all these arguments about technology transfer.

The fact is, Western companies are engaging with China more and more these days at their own will. Nobody's pointing a gun at them to invest in China and open factories there.
Sure nobody's forcing Western firms to do business in China but then nobody's forcing them to stay there and continue investing either. They can choose not to stay. They can decide that the risks are too great. If the Chinese won't abide by WTO rules, and if the Chinese joint venture partners so flagrantly breach the interests of their Western partners, then pretty soon they won't have any Western partners left - and the flow of investment will dry up. Western firms will put their vast capital, which has done so much to develop China in recent years, into other emerging markets instead (esp Eastern Europe, SE Asia, and India). If I was the chairman of a German manufacturing company I wouldn't go near China with a bargepole given that so many other German firms have come unstuck there.

Last edited by Monkey; June 6th, 2006 at 08:48 PM.
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Old June 6th, 2006, 08:49 PM   #90
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That is not gonna happen.China is a market way too important for western firms to just let it go.It may not be the case of Maglev but there are plenty of firms out there who are willing to pay this cost in order to make money.
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Old June 6th, 2006, 09:10 PM   #91
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cladiv
That is not gonna happen.China is a market way too important for western firms to just let it go.It may not be the case of Maglev but there are plenty of firms out there who are willing to pay this cost in order to make money.
But they don't need to be inside China to sell to the Chinese market. They can invest and manufacture anywhere in the world and sell anywhere in the world. They have chosen China not primarily because of its domestic market (though that becomes increasingly attractive as China's middle calss expands) but more because China offers a combination of very low costs and good physical infrastructure (eg roads, ports, etc). However if China's advantages are too much offset by massive intellectual property theft and untrustworthy joint-venture partners then they will locate elswehere. Even if they want to sell goods to the China market they can locate just over the border in, say, Vietnam (Vietnam has just concluded a trade agreement with the US paving the way for WTO entry). They could also base in India which has potentially even lower costs than China and is gradually improving infrastructure to an adequate level. If better infrastructure is essential they could choose a slightly more expensive but more developed base such as Malaysia. For selling to western markets they can choose Eastern Europe (Ukraine for example). It's not as if China is the only place you can build a car factory!!

At the end of the day these companies are there to make profit. If their interests are too much compromised in China, if they have bad experiences, if they get ripped-off and end up losing money, then of course they will leave. However they will still want to be use cheap labour and access expanding markets. That's why they will choose to invest in India, SE Asia, and Eastern Europe instead. If China wants to maintain the flow of Western investment (at least form Western manufacturers....) then the Chinese authorities will have to work a lot harder at protecting the interests of foreign investors and clamping down on intellectual property theft.
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Old June 6th, 2006, 09:13 PM   #92
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Monkey
Sure nobody's forcing Western firms to do business in China but then nobody's forcing them to stay there and continue investing either. They can choose not to stay. They can decide that the risks are too great. If the Chinese won't abide by WTO rules, and if the Chinese joint venture partners so flagrantly breach the interests of their Western partners, then pretty soon they won't have any Western partners left - and the flow of investment will dry up. Western firms will put their vast capital, which has done so much to develop China in recent years, into other emerging markets instead (esp Eastern Europe, SE Asia, and India). If I was the chairman of a German manufacturing company I wouldn't go near China with a bargepole given that so many other German firms have come unstuck there.
the wages in China have been increasing steadily over the years, labour shortage is already a problem in certain parts of the country, because people are not willing to work so much for so little, like they did 10 years ago. the cost of doing business in China is not exactly very low when comparing to other countries in the region...eg vietnam..india..however western companies continue to stay (and indeed..more or coming). that wont be the case if the cost is the only factor that draws them here, perhaps a more important factor is the 1.3 billion market that no western companies can afford to ignore, Ford is losing money in north america, its Chinese operation is what keeps it alive..even the cost rises to the level of cost in US they wont pack up and go...and more and more western companies are investing in R&D in China because of the highly educated workforce, China produces more science and engineering graduates than any other country..it's a common misconception that India does all the hi-tech work while China does the manufacturing..half of world's cellphones are produced in China but many cellphones are also developed by Chinese engineers. Nokia, Motorola, and Samsung all have research facilites in China and they design and develope cellphone modesl for both Chinese market and international market.
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Old June 6th, 2006, 09:13 PM   #93
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Monkey
Sure nobody's forcing Western firms to do business in China but then nobody's forcing them to stay there and continue investing either. They can choose not to stay. They can decide that the risks are too great. If the Chinese won't abide by WTO rules, and if the Chinese joint venture partners so flagrantly breach the interests of their Western partners, then pretty soon they won't have any Western partners left - and the flow of investment will dry up. Western firms will put their vast capital, which has done so much to develop China in recent years, into other emerging markets instead (esp Eastern Europe, SE Asia, and India). If I was the chairman of a German manufacturing company I wouldn't go near China with a bargepole given that so many other German firms have come unstuck there.

1. About 70% of "foreign investments" are not from the "West".

2. "Western" markets are saturated, India's market is still not big enough to replace China. SE "Asia" is quite developed and therefore expensive. There are not too many options for "Western" companies.
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Old June 6th, 2006, 09:20 PM   #94
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^ Why the quotation marks around "West" and "Western"? These are widely used and understood terms. Countries like Vietnam (part of SE Asia last time I checked....) are cheaper than China. So is India. They have, until recently, lacked the infrastructure to compete with China but if they build that then can be very compettive indeed. The main attraction of China is not the Chinese market itself but the possibility to manufacture cheaply there and sell back to much larger developed markets. They can locate anywhere in the world and sell anywhere in the world. Therefore I'd say that Western companies have plenty of alternative options. Other forms of investment in other sectors of China's economy may be well safe but Western manufacturing firms have clearly had a bad time there. And as I said before....

"At the end of the day these companies are there to make profit. If their interests are too much compromised in China, if they have bad experiences, if they get ripped-off and end up losing money, then of course they will leave. However they will still want to be use cheap labour and access expanding markets. That's why they will choose to invest in India, SE Asia, and Eastern Europe instead. If China wants to maintain the flow of Western investment (at least form Western manufacturers....) then the Chinese authorities will have to work a lot harder at protecting the interests of foreign investors and clamping down on intellectual property theft."
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Old June 6th, 2006, 09:25 PM   #95
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Monkey
^ Why the quotation marks around "West" and "Western"? These are widely used and understood terms. Countries like Vietnam (part of SE Asia last time I checked....) are cheaper than China. So is India. They have, until recently, lacked the infrastructure to compete with China but if they build that then can be very compettive indeed. The main attraction of China is not the Chinese market itself but the possibility to manufacture cheaply there and sell back to much larger developed markets. They can locate anywhere in the world and sell anywhere in the world. Therefore I'd say that Western companies have plenty of alternative options. Other forms of investment in other sectors may be well safe but Western manufacturing firms have clearly had a bad time there. And as I said before....

"At the end of the day these companies are there to make profit. If their interests are too much compromised in China, if they have bad experiences, if they get ripped-off and end up losing money, then of course they will leave. However they will still want to be use cheap labour and access expanding markets. That's why they will choose to invest in India, SE Asia, and Eastern Europe instead. If China wants to maintain the flow of Western investment (at least form Western manufacturers....) then the Chinese authorities will have to work a lot harder at protecting the interests of foreign investors and clamping down on intellectual property theft."
the top 4 foreign investors in China are Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Korea..true they have alternate options..but they are more likely to invest in China for obvious reasons.
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Old June 6th, 2006, 09:30 PM   #96
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Quote:
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the top 4 foreign investors in China are Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Korea..true they have alternate options..but they are more likely to invest in China for obvious reasons.
Calling Hong Kong "foreign" seems odd (and note that much Western investment in China arrives via Hong Kong). Taiwan is also dubiously foreign. It's natural that countries will invest most in their immediate neighbours. However Western companies have poured $billions into China in the last decade. If China's reputation for intellectual property theft continues to deteriorate then the world's largest overseas investors will plough their money into other emerging markets instead.
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Old June 6th, 2006, 09:38 PM   #97
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IR is a problem, but it will not have a significant impact on the amount of FDI China receives.

Quote:
Table 2: Top 10 Origins of FDI, 2005
Country/Region of Origin Amount Invested (US$)
Hong Kong $17.95 billion
Virgin Islands $9.02 billion
Japan $6.53 billion
South Korea $5.17 billion
United States $3.06 billion
Singapore $2.20 billion
Taiwan $2.15 billion
Cayman Islands $1.95 billion
Germany $1.53 billion
Western Samoa $1.35 billion
Source: PRC Ministry of Commerce

In 2005, the primary contributors of FDI in China remained largely unchanged from previous years (see Table 2). Hong Kong continued to be China's greatest source of foreign capital, followed by the Virgin Islands, Japan, South Korea, and the United States. Singapore, Taiwan, the Cayman Islands, Germany, and Western Samoa round out the top 10. Hong Kong and the tax havens are likely the source of much "round-trip" investment--PRC funds funneled out of China that return masked as FDI.
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Old June 6th, 2006, 09:48 PM   #98
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^ Cummon just look at that list! The Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, and Western Samoa are obviously offshore banking centres that process investment from elsewhere with tax advantages (and especially from Western countries). Much Western investment will also arrive via Hong Kong (though I'm sure Hong Kong invests plenty itself as well).
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Old June 6th, 2006, 11:17 PM   #99
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Monkey
^ Why the quotation marks around "West" and "Western"? These are widely used and understood terms. Countries like Vietnam (part of SE Asia last time I checked....) are cheaper than China. So is India. They have, until recently, lacked the infrastructure to compete with China but if they build that then can be very compettive indeed. The main attraction of China is not the Chinese market itself but the possibility to manufacture cheaply there and sell back to much larger developed markets. They can locate anywhere in the world and sell anywhere in the world. Therefore I'd say that Western companies have plenty of alternative options. Other forms of investment in other sectors of China's economy may be well safe but Western manufacturing firms have clearly had a bad time there. And as I said before....

"At the end of the day these companies are there to make profit. If their interests are too much compromised in China, if they have bad experiences, if they get ripped-off and end up losing money, then of course they will leave. However they will still want to be use cheap labour and access expanding markets. That's why they will choose to invest in India, SE Asia, and Eastern Europe instead. If China wants to maintain the flow of Western investment (at least form Western manufacturers....) then the Chinese authorities will have to work a lot harder at protecting the interests of foreign investors and clamping down on intellectual property theft."
It will take at least another ten years till Vietnam and India will catch up with China's current level of infrastructure. And China's labour is more expensive than India or Vietnam ... and "Western" companies are still pouring money into China. All the "western" CEOs must be either blind or stupid.
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Old June 6th, 2006, 11:25 PM   #100
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Monkey
^ Cummon just look at that list! The Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, and Western Samoa are obviously offshore banking centres that process investment from elsewhere with tax advantages (and especially from Western countries). Much Western investment will also arrive via Hong Kong (though I'm sure Hong Kong invests plenty itself as well).
Most so called "foreign investments" are actually Chinese money reinvested into China through offshore tax havens, either by Oversea Chinese (Huaqiao) or Chinese companies. It is well known that most Chinese companies are dodging tax in China. The "West" plays a less significant role that you may think.
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