MG Rovers China Connection

April 19 10:59 2005 Print This Article

It’s Communism, but not as we know it
By Richard Seamon

The debacle surrounding the demise of Britain’s last volume car-maker, MG Rover appears also to have signalled the death of communism.

20 years ago, the thought of a white knight in the form of a Chinese car-maker riding to a western company’s aid just wouldn’t have been entertained and not only on ideological levels, either. Chinese corporations just didn’t exist and the thought of one with any financial muscle to flex would have been laughable. How things have changed.

The mere fact that China now has the capability to manufacture quality objects of desire is astonishing to most of us raised reading news of the abuses of the cultural revolution of the 60s. MG Rover aren’t the first to have sought assistance in the orient, either. Since October 2003, BMW have manufactured and sold over 10000 3 and 5 series there and if some of the internet polling companies are to be believed, these will be on sale at a dealership near you soon. Ironically, BMW once owned Rover.

But what is most disturbing about the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) involvement in the MG Rover affair, is that the Chinese appear to have completely lost any sense of social responsibility; surely one of the most appealing aspects of any socio-political system predicated on the needs of the working population.

They’ve sat back, watched the west at work and absorbed some of capitalism’s less desirable practices with no attempt made at all in dressing them up and passing them off as communism with a twist as has been done until now.

By pulling out at the last moment, SAIC made it untenable for MG Rover to continue as a going concern with no option but to slip into administration. With it went the jobs and aspirations of 6000 employees and countless others dependent on the company for survival. What scared them off apart from the fact that the company was shedding £25 million a month? The £400 million pension provision black hole appears to be the favourite; they’d already secured rights to the famous K-Series engine and the functional 25 and high-end 75 series models, and there’s profit potential in those.

But their throwing off of the communist cloak didn’t stop there. There’s now going to be that most deplorable and upsetting of capitalist obsessions: the cherry-pick. As the Rover plant at Longbridge in England’s West Midlands is mothballed, the vultures will circle. And it won’t surprise me if the biggest and most voracious bird will be SAIC, hoping to make some valuable pickings to stick alongside what it’s already got in its corporate crop.

And if that isn’t backdoor asset stripping, something we all believed was the now completely unacceptable face of capitalism after the predatory acquisitional antics of the “Wall Street” era, then I’m a Chinaman.

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