By Gudrun, World Affairs Reporter for The Arendelle Guardian
HONG KONG; ARENDELLE – In a mysterious disaster for Kristoff’s ice subsidiary, Bjorgman’s Asian branch in the colonial port of Hong Kong was burned to the ground in the middle of the night several days ago. The suspects remain unknown and at large.
The British authorities, with local Chinese community leaders, have decried foul play, but no one has stepped forward to claim responsibility.
The Celestial Empire is one of the largest markets for Kristoff’s business, where quality ice is popular among wealthy Chinese and non-Chinese merchants and British governing officials. Ice is also in demand by hospitals and other strongholds of science and medicine. So important is ice to the Hong Kong elite that the colonial authorities founded Ice House Street, a one-way street for companies in the ice trade to set up shop, including Kristoff’s.
Eyewitnesses claim that the fire began shortly after midnight. The inferno quickly incinerated the exterior of the Bjorgman branch, then creeped into the windows of the neighbouring Hong Kong Ice Company, the only local competitor. Mysteriously, despite the big blaze, there were no patrolling policemen that intervened to summon the firefighters. Even the night watchman was nowhere to be seen, leading to fears of bribery and corruption among the British police.
Ice blocks are delicate and need to be expertly stored to be able to last long journeys by sea and road. It takes only rudimentary explosives to destroy entire shipments of hard-hewn and well-kept ice. By dawn, the warehouses of the Hong Kong Ice Company and Bjorgman were nothing more than smoking rubble. The ice, of course, had long melted.
In a press statement, the queen of Arendelle hinted that she had a suspect in mind, but refrained from revealing more information. “An attack on private Arendellian property is nothing less than an attack on an Arendellian citizen, and I urge the British governor and the Chinese mediators that negotiate contesting British and Chinese interests to get a grip on this,” she told this newspaper.
According to Kam Chik-loei, the comprador of Bjorgman and second-in-command to Kristoff, the losses to Kristoff’s business as a result of the arson total to over 1 million Arendellian kroner. Lady Kam is Bjorgman’s top regional manager in Asia, sits among Kristoff’s executive council, and is one of the conglomerate’s seven directors.
In a public statement, the comprador said: “Our enemies, unable to topple Anna’s royal consort from his hard-won heights, have resorted to thuggish means to beat our business. Let me be clear: I can earn back this lost million in a matter of months. To our hidden enemies: attack us with fire, and we’ll simply grow fast enough to smother you.”
In an interview with the Fjord Times here in Arendelle, Kristoff said: “I have complete faith in our comprador in Hong Kong. She’s a much better manager than me, and frankly Anna and I have some of the most talented, cross-industry leaders that believe in Anna’s vision.”
Our paper was the first non-British and non-Chinese paper to land an exclusive interview with her. Here’s our full transcript:
The AG: Lady Kam, thanks for sharing with us what you know about this attack on Arendellian property and an iconic business in our kingdom. For those of us in Arendelle who aren’t familiar, what exactly do you do, and why did Kristoff employ you?
Kam: Thank you, and hail Queen Anna! I know Arendelle’s people haven’t heard much about me… and they don’t need to. Think of me as the “business interpreter” for my boss, Kristoff. Or just call me your friendly regional manager. Asia is full of complexity, peril, and limitless opportunity. We compradors mediate between the company employing us and the Chinese market. We know the economy, culture, and language better than our employers, so we handle deals and transactions and oversee the company’s day-to-day operations. After all, how many Arendellians apart from Queen Anna know even a little rudimentary Chinese?
The AG: There are rumours that the job of a comprador can be so lucrative, that many of you are even wealthier than your employers. Is that true?
Kam: [Laughter] Well, we handle the finances of the company down to the last penny, so I suppose that’s where the rumours come from. No deal escapes my sight, and not a single kroner comes in or out of the company without my scrutiny. The tai-pans of Europe like Kristoff need help to do business in the Celestial Empire, and with my help everyone earns a profit… even if the profits for us compradors might look exorbitant, I admit.
The AG: Do you know who burned down Kristoff’s branch on Ice House Street?
Kam: Some members among the colony’s police force and the press have claimed that the triads – you might know them as secretive fraternal criminal groups – may be involved. I have no evidence for this, but whoever it is, we won’t tolerate the destruction of Bjorgman property without consequences. The fact that our colonial authorities failed to intervene the other night is simply outrageous and will dampen enthusiasm for further investments.
An additional role of the comprador is to build a network of local informants and friends, and that’s exactly what I’ve done. I’m going to press the governor hard, along with the Chinese compradors of other European companies, for answers. I’ll find out among my sources who has knowledge connecting this despicable vandalism to any suspects. The Princely House won’t suffer lowbrow and below-the-belt challenges to its business!
The AG: That’s truly reassuring. Thank you for taking precious time out of your busy schedule to speak with us, Lady Kam.
Kam: Bu ke qi! And I hope to see Her Majesty herself in the Celestial Empire soon!