I woke up today to two very different emails.
The first came in anonymously (of course) and consisted of a vituperative attack on me, on my firm and, most pointedly, on this blog. To summarize, none of us writing for the blog have a clue about China, we are lying to our clients/readers, and all of the problems and concerns we raise about China are actually due to our own shortcomings, not China’s. I read this one first.
And just as I was about to start feeling sorry for myself, this next email came in from a reader in Germany (whose identifiers I have changed in the below):
Just wanted to say how much I enjoy reading chinalawblog.com and how many ” that’s so true” experiences I had so far reading it. I am in the logistics field and I lived in Beijing and Shanghai for ten years. Then returned to Germany to help German companies on their way to China.
During my time in China I met all those people coming 3 times a year on a biz trip telling me that doing business in China is “so easy because the business is lying on the street and you just need to pick it up” and one week later they were on their way back to their home countries and thought that they understand China. Even after ten years I would not dare to claim that for myself!
Please keep on writing!
Totally changed my mood for the better.
I remember being a panelist at a Shanghai event a few years ago when someone in the audience asked me if I was ever concerned about offending people with this blog. My response went something like this:
No. In fact, I worry about not offending people. If we are not offending someone, we are not taking a stand. And if we are not taking a stand, we are not interesting. And if we are not interesting, we will not be read.
One of the advantages to being a founder of a small firm is that I do not have to worry about offending some people, I just have to make sure at least some people love us. If only 5% love us and only 5% of those people hire us, that would be a huge amount of work. The key is to say enough to be worth reading.
Also, if we failed to tell things exactly as we see them on our blog, we would get in all sorts of trouble because it is too difficult to remember what we say and to remain consistent.
I also remember meeting a high-up (but quite inebriated) expat executive many years ago at a Beijing bar. He went on and on about how much he liked our blog because we were neither “panda haters” nor “panda lovers” and there are so few people out there taking a middle position on China.
And not so long ago, I was on a panel at an Economist Intelligence Unit/HSBC Business Without Borders event on doing business in China. At the beginning of the event, the first two speakers (as I recall) pretty much lit into China (mostly regarding its lack of IP protection), and then it was my turn. I knew in advance that the two speakers before me would be tough on China and I wanted to moderate that.
So I talked of how when China’s legal system and IP protections are compared to its emerging market peers, “it isn’t so bad at all.” Here’s the video: Doing Business In China. Setting the Record Straight.
So what do you think?