History has won an ironic rematch in the numbers game. Almost forty years ago when Mao died, China’s “Gang of Four” had been accused of every abomination possible. The president’s widow and her three companions at the communist party’s apex had led the country down a blind alley of fanaticism that would subsequently be cured by a dramatic turnabout. When the story seemed to have concluded—today, China is effectively a political giant—the same menacing number has returned under a different guise. In fact, the branches of China’s “Big Four” global auditing agencies have been suspended for six months by a US judge, and will not be able to practice in US territory. According to the sentence, the four companies (Ernst & Young Hua Ming, KPMG Huazhen, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, and PwC Zhong Tian) deliberately violated the Sarbanes-Oxley Act by refusing to consign documents regarding Chinese companies under investigation for fraud to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The controlling body’s task—as occurs in market economies— is to monitor finance, ensure transparency of operations, and protect investors and citizens. Access to financial documents is therefore necessary when Chinese companies intend to be quoted on US stock exchanges. This decision will, in fact, force the SEC to suspend Chinese companies quoted on the New York Stock Exchange, a more ethical-moral debacle than financial for the Chinese. More than 100 Chinese companies are publicly listed in the US, and therefore subject to procedures and surveillance based on documents produced by the “Big Four” in China. The Chinese auditing agencies refused to hand over confidential analyses claiming that they only need to respect Chinese law, which, in the most delicate cases imposes secrecy in auditing, and therefore withholding information in the country. Other international stock exchanges will take note that Chinese companies suspected of fraud—which are many—cannot be investigated because the government dictates state secrecy, which is to say that China protects its citizens suspected of having committed crimes and damages against foreign investors. The question clearly takes off from national boundaries and lands in a territory of uncertain international regulations. It’s an aspect that no longer involves auditing agencies, but crashes directly into the political and ethical spheres. How can one invoke Chinese law when he wants to be quoted on Wall Street? Is calling on secrecy reasonable when US law demands access to information? Is it acceptable to protect companies accused of fraud? These questions all allude to a fundamental difference: the recognition of the law’s supremacy, or the rule of law. In a globalized context, all countries need to recognize the international consensus as valid, especially after signing and becoming part of it. The alternative is exclusion, maintaining a country’s own business style within its national confines. Even expanding the field to Italy, one resorts to the same valuation: that which is valid in China cannot be imposed elsewhere with the ambition of conquering new markets. It would be a step backwards for international cooperation if Beijing folded; but imposing its local rules in foreign countries would be an even more dangerous result. The slave-like labor conditions experienced by Chinese workers in Prato, Italy, for example, cannot be defended nor protected by Chinese diplomatic structures, as is normally the case. The self-assurance that accompanies acquisitions in Europe cannot derive from the same opaque and internal pragmatism that has nonetheless launched the Chinese economy to record heights. If China cannot understand this urgency, it will likely find itself facing analogous situations, where unresolved problems create pressure; this is the irony of the number four within its national boundaries. It will be rejected by civilized western societies that will blame local organized crime as the sole and favored interlocutor, similar to the Suntech case in Brindisi, Italy. Italy’s law enforcement and judicial systems are already burdened with endless criminal cases of every kind, and will need to assume the burden of facing even these strange but natural and deadly alliances between local and Chinese mafias.