The progress of Beijing’s “Going Global Strategy,” which encourages Chinese firms (in particular well-connected, sloppily budgeted national champions) to go out and buy foreign assets, is even more unpredictable these days. The chairman of China Construction Bank (CCB) said the lender will hold off on a foreign shopping spree given current instability in foreign financial markets. Sounds reasonable. On the other hand, it looks like Chinalco is going to shoot a US$19.5 billion dart into the rump of troubled Anglo-Australian mining group Rio Tinto, despite tantrums thrown by other Rio stockholders and its chairman-in-waiting, who resigned in protest. Bank of China looks to replace China Life at the auction for American insurance giant AIG’s Asian assets. BoC is more experienced overseas, it’s true, but analysts are surprised Beijing is considering buying anything from AIG, which has effectively become an American state-owned enterprise (presumably now managed by Budweiser-swilling bureacrats who spend their hours in the office reading the paper). After all, foreigners aren’t buying Chinese goods, which are starting to stack up on the piers. Exports stumbled into a well in January, declining 17.5% and making December’s 2.8% decline look sedate by comparison. But foreigners haven’t stopped buying Chinese companies. Australia’s largest telecommunications company Telstra just paid US$196.8 million for controlling interests in two Chinese cellphone content and online music companies.
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