As Japan and China have reached a deadlock over the sovereignty of some windswept rocks, Hong Kong now has an opportunity to provide value as a go-between—if we were smart enough to remain rational, neutral and soberly business-minded. Joe Chan (whose name has been changed for his safety) is a friend of mine who has been working as a manager for a Japanese enterprise in Shunde, Guangdong. He told me how he struggled to maintain peace in his position in the midst of the recent violent anti-Japanese protests raging across China. With a business studies degree from a decent British university and limited knowledge of the Japanese language, Joe was just intellectual enough to help his Japanese boss survive a potential massacre at the hands of angry patriotic Chinese laborers. The Chinese workers shouted patriotic slogans and demanded their Japanese boss return the islands to the Chinese people immediately. Without a clear reply [from him], they decided to stage a strike the next morning—staying away from the production lines, and smoking and gambling in their dormitories instead. The Japanese management, worried the strike would escalate to looting, locked themselves in their air-conditioned office upstairs. Joe was included in the crisis management team, invited to sit by the long table in the management meeting—an honorable “now-you-are-considered-one-of-us” gesture. Needless to say, this made Joe—as the only Chinese from Hong Kong admitted upstairs at such a crucial moment—feel proud. The Japanese asked Joe how he would assess the workers’ next steps since he must understand the Chinese much better than they do. Joe suggested that lunch hour would be a key moment to watch. If the Chinese workers, while on strike, all flooded into the canteen punctually from their dormitory to grab their bowl of rice, this could mean a silver lining in the dark cloud. Then Joe volunteered to go downstairs to do some lobbying although he wasn’t sure if he would be lynched and mauled by his fellow countrymen. His proposal was granted, and his courage duly appreciated by his Japanese bosses. Joe went downstairs to the dorms, and made a brief speech. “The Japanese committed a big crime against the Chinese people in history,” Joe started off with the kind of rhetoric familiar to them. “Here those stupid Japs come again. But they are now the employer who will pay us, so let’s make an advantageous compromise, using Sun Tzu strategic thought. Shall we go to the canteen and take our lunch? If we take our revenge by eating double the amount of food than usual, we will effectively undermine their profits and contribute to their economic recession, which has been ongoing since the 1980s. I can guarantee that the food will not be poisoned.” Business went back to normal that very afternoon. I’m sure Joe, now eaten up with his sense of achievement and with much potential for a Nobel Peace Prize, will get his promotion soon. Chip Tsao is a best-selling author, columnist and a former producer for the BBC. His columns have also appeared in Apple Daily, Next Magazine and CUP Magazine, among others.