Manufacturing Editor John Revill crossed the cultural divide to speak to the global chief of Nanjing Automobile Corporation about his firm's plans for Rover...

"It should be like that," said Wang Haoliang, as enigmatically as you can be when you are speaking through an interpreter.

"It should be like what?" I asked, not entirely sure what his answer meant.

Had his company - Nanjing Automobile Corporation (NAC) - got the money to revive car production at Longbridge as well as start production of the cars in China?

After a little bit of explanation by his interpreters, I was told this was as good an answer as I was going to get.

"But this is really important," I said. "Have you got the money, how much money, and where from, to make this plan a success?" I persevered.

Whatever happens, whatever kind words are said, follow the money.

Eventually I was told yes, the company had secured funding, although the rest of the information was described as "commercially sensitive."

"It will come from the banks," said Wang Hongbiao (no relation), the head of NAC's UK operations. "All money comes from banks eventually."

So that cleared that one up. But the cultural differences were there for all to see.

While not wanting to give offence to Wang Hangliao, the global chairman of Nanjing Group, I had to explain that the questioning was nothing personal.

Nothing against NAC per se, but after so many years of false dawns and false hopes, people need to know how sincere and realistic NAC were actually going to be.

Fears abounded when they bought the firm for #53 million from the administrator last year that it was just a lift and shift operation - taking the technology wholesale to the Far East to set up production over there.

Coming from China and being also a communist party official to boot, this was always gong to be a little difficult.

The other Mr Wang said: "Originally the rumour this time last year were that we were going to transfer everything from Longbridge to China. The fact is we are going to resume part of the production here at Longbridge."

It was also true that the Chinese have been doing their homework as well as drawing up a business plan.

They have started a study to discover where MG Rover went wrong, and what triggered the collapse last April which cost 6,000 jobs at Longbridge and hundreds more in the supply chain.

Wang Haoliang, the big boss, said: "We will look and learn some lessons so we do not make the same mistakes.

We think if this company, if it was in China or another part of the world, with such products as it had, would not have gone in to administration.

"We will look at things like cost controls, how that related to capacity. "

So where else did MG Rover go wrong, and how is Nanjing going to overcome them?

But then I was told this was it was not the Chinese way to bad-mouth previous owners.

Pressing on to how many jobs would their plans create, I hit a brick wall: "Exactly how many relates to the business development."

Already 40 or so engineers have begun work on restarting production of the TF, with more recruitment expected in the next few weeks.

A few engineers have even travelled over to China to help set up the car production plant which will produce MG ZTs, and ZRs next year.

NAC has also started work on new designs for the cars, vital with the Rover 75 approaching its ninth birthday when the Chinese produced version comes off the production line next year.

The TF and the MG versions of the 25 and 45 will be even longer in the tooth.

Mr Wang. "And we are working on the appropriate modifications for the existing cars. They will look a lot better."

But how serious is NAC about returning to Longbridge one year after the plant locked its doors?

"We want to establish our capability and produce a full range of vehicles. We want to produce vehicles to compete in the Chinese market, but also to step outside China in the international market," said Mr Wang.

"And we have had the most senior civic official from the municipal government of Nanjing come to Longbridge to have a look around.

"We have had a lot of support from Birmingham council, and links have been forged which will be beneficial for the future.

"Everyone knows MG Rover very well. It is a company with 106 years of history, with high quality products which we think can be competitive.

"We are Chinese, we come from Nanjing and it is very far away. If we did not think this is going to be a success, is it worth us coming all this way?"

Another example of their commitment has seen Mr Wang personally visit some of the former MG Rover dealers to encourage them to come on board.