It’s more bad news for the Sino-Australian relationship today as Canberra announced that Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) will begin capping Chinese stakes in Australian mining firms at 15%. "We prefer various sorts of co-operative and partnership arrangements," said Patrick Colmer, a FIRB director. "What we are looking for is a win-win situation." Using the "win-win" phrase may have been a sideways dig at Beijing, which deploys the term with a certain reckless abandon, especially since from the Chinese government’s perspective, this year has been fairly lose-lose as far as the Australian mining sector is concerned. China has failed to get the prices it wants on iron ore contracts, it has failed to gain control of Rio Tinto, and if arresting Rio Tinto negotiators or hacking the Melbourne International Film Festival’s website was supposed to convince Australians to reconsider – well, the result of their reconsideration was not what what China had hoped for. Just the other day Australia rejected a US$400 million proposal by state-owned China Nonferrous Metal Mining Group to take a majority stake in rare earths producer Lynas Corp. However, the policy applies to all foreign firms, not just Chinese investors, and some analysts say that the joint-venture partnership structure may work better for Chinese firms anyway, giving them control of the resources they need without the political or managerial headaches of overseas M&A. At the same time, if Beijing was hoping to gain face by seizing control of Australia’s mines, it can console itself with Geely, which is now the front-runner to acquire 100% of Volvo from Ford. Safe cars, a well-known international brand – there should be plenty of prestige to go around. If only Geely started out as a state-owned pillar car manufacturer instead of an upstart private firm that began by making refrigerators, the case for state-led direct investment overseas might be strengthened. Of course, Geely is acquiring a firm that has reportedly drained US$1 billion from Ford over the past few years, and lost US$231 million in the last quarter alone. If Geely can save Volvo, it would be a victory for China, a victory for Geely shareholders, and presumably a victory for Volvo employees. How Ford will feel about seeing its US$6.9 billion investment in Volvo sold for US$2.5b, on the other hand, could be described better as "win-lose".