Negotiating Tips for Chinese Telecoms: Never Bet against the House (or any of its subcommittees)

Never Bet against the House (or its subcommittees)


ATT:  Faceless Committees Running Huawei and ZTE

Buck up, Comrades.  Don’t let those bullies on the Hill get you down.  Yes we know – people have been saying terrible things about you.   Baseless accusations and empty innuendo.  It’s awful.

But legions of Western MNCs have been to the Beijing version of this opera, and if you are not above learning from their example there are a few useful tips for dealing with unfair protectionism.

      1. Never bet against the house.  Ironically, the same rule applies in Las Vegas, Capitol Hill and Beijing.  Don’t bet against the powers that be. When you challenge the House of Representatives to certify how transparent you are, then you have already lost the battle.  Appealing to Congress’ sense of decency, propriety and fairness is taking the express route to Failville.  Who told you that Congress was going to be fair and credible, anyway?  Where are you getting your advice?
      2. Don’t cry out loud.  Americans like a tough guy.  Stiff upper lips, men!  Act like it didn’t hurt.  Pretend you didn’t even notice.  “The House of Representatives report said what?  Oh, sorry – I was so busy hiring new workers and investing in new plants that I didn’t have time to read the papers today…”
      3. Avoid the spotlight.  The only people touting the undeniable power of PR are the people selling you PR services.   The most suspicious statement in the English language is, “Trust Me.”   This will pass if you let it.  No one in the US can remember or pronounce your names.  Take a breather.  The more attention you draw to yourselves now, the longer you will be radioactive.
      4. Find new friends.  The only thing worse than having old friends abandon you (I’m looking at you, Symnatec  and Cisco) is becoming popular with the wrong crowd.  Being the People’s Hero of the moment to Xinhua News Agency, perpetually agitated Weiblings and Shaun Rein  is only going to make your life harder in the long term.  Now is the time to put in a few quiet calls to influential old friends (I hear Rick Perry has time on his hands) and build ties with people who know people.  Is this the first time you’ve been told that networking is important?
      5. Take the high road.  In the hours after the publication of the House report some of the rhetoric was getting dangerously close to righteous indignation.  Do you remember how grown-up those Coca Cola boys were after Beijing turned down their merger request in 2009?  Remember how they hinted that they were “relieved to have a graceful exit” and other polite nonsense.   Don’t shoot your mouths off.

I know it hurts, but this is no time to vent to the press or blurt out angry accusations.   You still have plenty of wonderful opportunities in Latin America and Africa.  Keep yourselves busy and stay in shape for the post-election period of fellowship and new beginnings (scheduled for Nov 7 – 9).  That’s your window.

Protectionism and baseless nationalist suspicion hurts everyone.  Tell your friends.

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