Ford Shifts Focus To Chinese Market (NYSE:F)

Ford has decided to turn its attention to growth in the Chinese market. Ford has bet heavily on the mainland Chinese market and is rapidly expanding there. General Motors has thrived in China, thanks mainly to its Buick brand, which the company frequently ties to Chinese Hero Dr. Sun Yat-sen in its marketing. Today, General Motors sells far more Buicks in China than in the United States. G.M. sold 71,002 Buicks in China last month, compared with only 15,623 Buicks in the United States.

G.M. has capitalized on the fact that it was the brand in which Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the founder of modern China, was chauffeured around in. Dr. Sun was a medical doctor and revolutionary who briefly became the first president of China in 1912. In 1924, Dr. Sun wrote to Henry Ford inviting him to create an industrial empire in China even bigger than his operations in the United States. An assistant in Mr. Ford’s office sent a reply to Dr. Sun acknowledging receipt of the invitation but saying, “We desire to advise, however, that Mr. Ford has made no plans for visiting China in the very near future.”

Ford Motor released copies of Dr. Sun’s correspondence in Hong Kong ahead of the company’s planned bid for regulatory approval to become a government-approved provider of taxis in Hong Kong. The city has nearly 18,000 taxis. 98 percent of them are supplied by Toyota with Nissan providing most of the rest of them. The model that Ford is trying to win approval for is the Ford Transit Connect, a compact minivan manufactured in Valencia, Spain.

Taiwanese and mainland Chinese officials sometimes meet secretly in Hong Kong because it is a nearly neutral location. Releasing the documents in Hong Kong may allow Ford Motor to sidestep arguments from both sides that could derail its plans. Even though Dr. Sun was a Nationalist, the Communists also revere him as one of their intellectual forefathers.