Louis Gallois, head of EADS – Europe’s defence and aerospace group, said industrial espionage threat is very real in China.
Addressing a New Year’s address, Mr. Gallois said Airbus – the EADS group and the world’s leading aircraft manufacturer, had exercised ‘prudence’ while carrying out test flights in China. The comments assume significance as French carmaker Renault prepares to produce evidence against three of its executives, currently suspended for allegedly transferring sensitive data.
Arguing that the whole episode has bigger ramifications for the entire manufacturing industry, he said: “I … would be interested to have an exchange with them. It is a subject that concerns us”.
Although Renault has not explicitly named China, investigations by French secret services indicate the involvement of at least one Chinese company.
Industrial espionage is a real threat in many countries and Mr. Gallois was not accusing China alone, said people close to him.
The growing speculation of Chinese involvement may result in a diplomatic row as Beijing dubbed the allegations as ‘irresponsible’. French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde and her other cabinet colleagues however, insist that they have not named any country yet.
China largest transmission and distribution company – State Grid Corporation said it is investigating media reports independently, linking it to the spying case. It was quick to refer to the denial issued by the foreign ministry, ruling out any Chinese involvement.
China lags the west in conventional internal combustion engine technology. State Grid Corporation is engaged in developing electric cars and hopes to catch up with the west in green technology vehicles.