The early days

My thanks to Gary Adshead of the West Australian for sharing an email with me that harks back to the early days of Firepower. If you read my book you will see that the now-famous Firepower dragon symbol was borrowed from an early investor called Li Haidong. To add a little intrigue to the matter, Haidong worked for the Chinese arms manufacturer Norinco – the same firm sanctioned by the United States in 2003 for allegedly selling missile technology to Iran. Here, in full, are the words Haidong sent to Tim Johnston before abandoning ship:

September 12, 2003
Tim Johnston
Firepower Group
Dear Tim,
September 11th of this year happened to be traditional Chinese moon festival, a festival that we Chinese value much for family reunion and harmony. On this same say I received an extremely unpleasant letter from you, bringing the message that is 180° contrast to a festival greetings. Your behavior reminded me of the terrorist attack two years ago. I will remember you together with this date, for my whole life.
What you are claiming against me is absolutely nonsense. I have checked your so-called “proof and evidence” picture from Tianjin out of curiosity and found out it is another product sample that I sent to them for cement industry. The Chinese name is similar but this product is used for enhancing number of cement. Your spy girl who made tens of  phone calls to Tianjin is not sophisticated enough to tell the difference.
I would like make clear to you that both Bounty Firepower and Tianjin Success are independent companies, none is the subsidiary of your company. I definitely have the right to develop other businesses with my partners, as long as it is not in conflict of interest with you. I do have a lot of other business with Mr. Jiang, such as steel, crude oil and cement, but it is none of your business and I have no obligation to report or disclose to you.
But this accident revealed the fact that you have been playing tricks behind my back for a long time. You have breached our fundamental agreement and understanding that I handle the marketing arrangement in China and you organize technical support. Out of trust to you, every time when I complained to you that your people were having unnecessary discreet communication with Mr. Jiang’s secretary, I thought that was only individual behavior. Now it has proved that all these conspiracy were directed and planed by you, with the intention of grabbing fruits to your pocket in a proper time.
It is nothing strange for you. In Russia, you cut off Sasha who brought you through the door to Russian Railways. In Indonesia you cut off Tanto who did a lot of ground work and organized the structure in place. In Europe you cut off Michael van Rense who opened the door and built the platform for you. In Singapore, you cut off Jefrey Lee who did excellent launch and organized one of the most convincing test result in Asia. In China you are now trying to repeat the same trick, thinking the apple is now ripe for collection.
You are dreaming! In China, it is the most disgraceful misconduct for a man to destruct the bridge after crossing the river. Nobody likes to get close to a person of this nature. This time you think you have crossed the river and it’s time to destruct the bridge. Wrong, Tim, you are just in middle of the river. Result? You will be struggling in the water! Try your luck, you will find out the result in a hard way.
Don’t be foolish to think you are controlling the lifeline of me or my partners in China. With the current foundations and market attraction in China, we can easily get a world class company to cooperate with us. I have never thought of doing so before, as I value the friendship between us and enjoy the challenge of building a giant together. And it is not my character to turn against my partners, even in the most difficult situation. It has been my believe to work hard hand in hand with my partners and enjoy fruits together. But it is no longer possible from now on.
Don’t overestimate your technology. There are tons of similar products and technology available in the market. I am sure many technologies are much matured than what you are holding. Look at the route we have gone through, virtually every step of way there was technical failure, which caused repeated setback in the market. Should there be a matured
technical support I could depend on, the market in China could have taken off long time ago. If not for my input, your procedures may still be incomplete up to now.
This letter took me 5 days to finish. It is very painful for me to deny my own long time faith that you are a kind, trustworthy and dependable friend and partner. I have to admit I was wrong.
On the other hand, I will be a totally free man from now. I don’t have to engage myself with any commitment to you any more. All my friends related to previous Firepower business, including my Indian friend Ganesh, have voted to stand together with me. I will not be the party who suffer loss in the market. You made the choice and you have to face the result. No one else is to be blamed.
Before I say goodbye to you, Tim, remember my advice. To make successful business, firstly you need to learn how to be a good standing man, a man of principle, integrity, a man of trust and a man who can win respect from others. Maybe one day in the future, you will fully understand my meaning.
Good luck to you and your business.
Sincerely yours,
Li Haidong

2 Responses to “The early days”

  1. Phillippe says:

    So it appears Mr Johnston has tried to deconstruct a bridge from Australia and the rest of the world now too?

    Its up to ASIC to drag him out of the water and have him charged and appear in court.

    Gerard, why cant ASIC do this? Or do they just find it too hard?

  2. Gerard says:


    It is quite simple really. The charges ASIC brought in the Federal Court were civil charges. Tim Johnston has never been charged with a criminal offence – such as fraud – and therefore he can stay away from the country as long as his money holds out. It would need shareholders to walk into a police station and make a complaint of fraud. Some appear unwilling to do that just yet because that might upset the various recovery actions that are being planned against others (those who sold shares who now might be sued, for instance).


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