Sep 18th 2021
IT IS NOTHING new for foreign firms to endure shakedowns by the Chinese Communist Party. As far back as revolutionary times, Chairman Mao’s victorious troops did not directly confiscate foreign-owned assets as their Bolshevik forerunners had done in Russia. Instead, they wore them down with higher taxes and fines so big that eventually companies gave away their assets for nothing. In one memorable case dug up by Aron Shai, an Israeli academic, a British industrialist in 1954 professed to be handing over everything to the Communists from “large blocks of godowns (warehouses) down to pencils and paper”. And yet, he complained, Comrade Ho, his opposite number, continued to haggle “like a pre-liberation shopkeeper”.
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