Thank goodness your company, Diagonal Imports, chose the Sametime enterprise IM software produced by IBM Lotus. Other products also allow you to carry on real-time exchanges with colleagues on the other side of the planet, but Sametime supports bi-directional machine translation, and you’re going to need it.
The problem is that production on a popular line of decorative lighting appliances produced at your Chinese manufacturing plant inexplicably came to a halt last month. As the product manager in the United States, you have many resources you could call on to help, such as new sources for faulty parts. But you can’t do anything if you don’t know the details. You’ve tried telephoning top managers in China, but they’re evasive, telling you only what they think you want to hear.
Finally, your friend Kuei-chen Tsao has returned from a business trip. You met her during your trip to China last year. She doesn’t speak English, but she’s the line engineer responsible for this particular product: a fiber-optic lighting display that features a plastic base with a rotating color wheel. As the wheel turns, light emitted from the spray of fiber-optic thread changes color in soothing patterns. Product #3347XM is one of Diagonal’s most popular items, and you have orders from novelty stores around the United States waiting to be filled. Kuei-chen should be able to explain the problem, determine whether you can help, and tell you how long before regular shipping resumes.