Two-Way Street

China and Hummer: A Farewell to Outrage


Nobody seems to be upset that Hummer is being bought by a Chinese company.

That seems to break a news pattern. Typically a foreign outfit buying an iconic American brand gets some sort of negative reaction. If it involves a country we're on relatively good terms with, the reaction is along the lines of bemoaning the changing world. (You know, Pebble beach and Japan in the 1990s, for instance).

But if it involves a country we aren't on such good terms with, like China, the reaction gets downright virulent and centered on national security issues. Witness the attempt by a Chinese company to buy Unocal four years back. Or the attempted purchase of 3Com in 2008. And, to a lesser extent, Lenovo's purchase of IBM's personal computing division.

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As a news manager, you come to expect it. Deal story ... then the negative reaction story. When the news broke about a Hummer purchase, I fully expected negative reaction coverage. (I even boasted of my expectations on TV ... see video). But it never came. The only thing I could find was a congressman grousing in the Wall Street Journal. And the newspaper notes, too, a dearth of reaction.

A couple of reasons ...

1. Who can argue with GM selling anything to anyone?

2. It's not THAT Hummer (the military vehicles are actually made by another company).

What a difference an economic crisis makes. Anyway, maybe China will now rethink its opposition to Coke buying a fruit drink maker.