Procurement, military and business news from France and China

And not very good news at that for France...

Three British executives from the French engineering group Alstom have been accused of paying bribes to win foreign officials in order to win lucrative contracts.  The three were questioned last year but were relaeased wothout charge.  The Telegraph reports this:

A spokesman for Alstom said: "These are still only allegations by the SFO and are not proven facts. Alstom does not tolerate corruption in any form, in any part of its business or in its supply chain. Robust systems are in place across the company to prevent risk of corruption, bribery or any improper business practices."

Good for Alstom!

Meanwhile, rumours continue to swirl around the suspension of three senior Renault executives, accused of selling secrets about innovative electric car programme to someone; the Chinese, according to most reports including the Guardian here.

And in China, the new 'stealth' fighter plane took flight for the first time, coinciding with the visit of the US Defence Secretary, Robert Gates.

So what does all this mean? Is there a common thread?

I suspect we (or our childrens' children) will look back in 100 years time at our current era and wonder whether business people in the 'West' were mad?  That we apparently went out of our way to support China's growth, buying their production, entering into JVs and relationships that enabled them to copy our technology and IP, and eventually getting ourselves into a position where China owned huge amounts of Western debt, as well as companies, raw materials and resources.  (Note that the better than expected auctions last week of European sovereign debt were down to enthusiastic buying from the Chinese).

And I don't condone corruption at all (we've written about the corrosive effect it has on companies and entire nations) but while we try and play fair, we're competing with others who probably don't always have the same scruples.

I don't know what the answer is, and I don't believe the Chinese government has any interest at the moment in seriously de-stabilising the west, but you do wonder where all this is leading.

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