Riding High in Beijing

During Vulcan's first visit to Beijing in 1981, we saw many vehicles on the road we had never seen before.  One of them was the Hongqi (Red Flag) limousine.  The one above was parked in front of the Beijing Hotel, where we were staying. Jay Leno's Garage featured one back in 2016; here's the video … Continue reading Riding High in Beijing

A True Russo-Chinese Alliance is Probably Premature

Amidst all of the conventional wisdom about a tight relationship between Moscow and Beijing, a caution: Fifty years later, the ferocity of the skirmish between Mao Zedong’s China and Leonid Brezhnev’s Soviet Union seems to belong to a very distant past—so distant, indeed, that many foreign-policy experts are convinced that an anti-U.S. alliance between the … Continue reading A True Russo-Chinese Alliance is Probably Premature

An Old Idea Comes Back: China-US Arbitration in a Neutral Country

In his assessment of the prospects of US-China relations, former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd makes the following suggestion to resolve intellectual property (IP) issues: Intellectual-property protection, however, is deeply problematic. Previous agreements reached under US president Barack Obama’s administration could be reconstituted. But the jurisdictional enforcement of breaches is still hopeless. One possible mechanism … Continue reading An Old Idea Comes Back: China-US Arbitration in a Neutral Country

A Fistful of Yuan: Vulcan in China, 1981-3

Readers of the series Vulcan: The Offshore Experience may recall that Vulcan Iron Works' years offshore were described as “the experience of a lifetime.” If there is one experience that stands out as making it that way, it was without a doubt Vulcan's sale of two large offshore pile hammers to the entity that is … Continue reading A Fistful of Yuan: Vulcan in China, 1981-3

A Fistful of Yuan: Anatomy of a Letter of Credit

The letter of credit was one of the key factors why Vulcan, a small company, could conduct international business with the reasonable expectation of getting paid. Vulcan required virtually all of its customers outside of the US (even ones with a long-term relationship) to pay via the letter of credit. This was insurance of performance … Continue reading A Fistful of Yuan: Anatomy of a Letter of Credit

A Fistful of Yuan 10: Epilogue

Vulcan’s entry into the China market, achievement though it was, did not receive the follow up that one might expect. Towards the end of 1983, there was a flurry of parts sales. In early 1984, Angelica Ferguson, who had ably facilitated both of Vulcan's hammer contracts, left Amtech, as her husband had a new posting … Continue reading A Fistful of Yuan 10: Epilogue

A Fistful of Yuan 9: The Last Field Service Trip

There was still one more trip to be made for the first hammer, and Jesse Perry’s trip report is where we pick up, after he arrives in Tokyo: (Again our Offshore Tips will be very helpful in visualising some of the mechanical aspects of the system.) FRIDAY, APRIL 22, 1983 Took 9:00 a.m. flight from … Continue reading A Fistful of Yuan 9: The Last Field Service Trip

A Fistful of Yuan 8: For a Few Yuan More…

24 January 1983, we received a telex from Showa Leasing asking for a quote on a 560 hammer, as they were wanting to propose leasing this hammer to their client, the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC.) Realising immediately that the end user was our customer, we forwarded this to Amtech with an outline of … Continue reading A Fistful of Yuan 8: For a Few Yuan More…

A Fistful of Yuan 7: Starting Up, At Last

We had a steady amount of back and forth with Amtech and the Chinese in the months after the SPE show. Most of our interaction with the Offshore Branch in Tanggu concerned the boiler. The Chinese had some difficulty with sorting out things on the boiler set-up. But all was not just about spare parts … Continue reading A Fistful of Yuan 7: Starting Up, At Last

A Fistful of Yuan 6: An Oil Show, an Inspection Trip and an Engineering Contact

While the Vulcan 560 hammer plied the seas on its way to Tanggu, other developments were taking place that, although weren’t directly related to the contract and the equipment, were certainly part of Vulcan’s experience in China. The SPE International Exhibition and Technical Symposium Vulcan certainly wasn’t the first American company to do business with … Continue reading A Fistful of Yuan 6: An Oil Show, an Inspection Trip and an Engineering Contact