Foreign multinationals caught in Chinese corruption crossfire

Foreign multinationals caught in Chinese corruption crossfire

SHANGHAI/BEIJING - President Xi Jinping's fight against corruption has fanned out from the "oil clique" to autos, steel and other industries. And for multinationals, this only adds to the risk of operating in China.

On Friday evening, executives at Dongfeng Nissan Passenger Vehicle gathered for a hastily called meeting in Guangzhou. They were dumbfounded to learn that Vice President Ren Yong of Dongfeng Motor, another Nissan Motor joint venture, would lose all his posts as a result of being put under investigation by the Communist Party's disciplinary investigation commission.

Ren was suspected of "serious law and discipline violations," the Xinhua News Agency reported. The news came as a shock to those who had known him as the driving force behind the Japanese automaker's operations in China.

Nissan President Carlos Ghosn is said to have had full confidence in Ren and entrusted him with day-to-day management. Chinese executives at the joint venture were more likely to look to Ren for leadership than to the Japanese managers dispatched from Nissan headquarters.

"Nothing moves forward unless Ren gives the go-ahead," said one.

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