In a previous post, we looked at potential pitfalls in efforts to access China’s markets. Specifically, it appears that access comes with a high cost: supplying Chinese competitors with proprietary technology. Another example of this was recently exposed in the Wall Street Journal:
When the Japanese and European companies that pioneered high-speed rail agreed to build trains for China, they thought they’d be getting access to a booming new market, billions of dollars worth of contracts and the cachet of creating the most ambitious rapid rail system in history.
What they didn’t count on was having to compete with Chinese firms who adapted their technology and turned it against them just a few years later.
Today, Chinese rail companies that were once junior partners with the likes of Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd., Siemens AG, Alstom SA and Bombardier Inc. are vying against them in the burgeoning global market for super-fast train systems. From the U.S. to Saudi Arabia to Brazil and in China itself, Chinese companies are selling trains that in most cases are faster than those offered by their foreign rivals.
Caterpillar recently announced it’s building another large engine factory in China, expanding its presence there. How long will it be before we start seeing Chinese companies competing head-to-head with Caterpillar — using Cat’s own technology against them?