I try hard not to be an ass, but sometimes it is impossible.  The other day it was impossible.

Months ago, a company wrote me because it was having a problem with one of their employees. This employee had left the company and at that moment, the company realized it should have made this employee sign various trade secret agreements long ago. They came to me for some help and I essentially told them that they had left the barn door open and the horse had sprung free and now about all that we could do was try to get the horse back by using a lot of sugar.  Well, I didn’t really use such a stupid farm analogy, but you get the point.

At the end of their email, they mentioned that they were also being investigated by Chinese customs.  To which I told them that they should stop right there and retain experienced professionals to assist them.  I then regaled them with horror story after horror story of clients who had come to us after having cooperated with Chinese customs, only to have Chinese customs “turn” on them and threaten them with criminal actions, after having seen the documents.  I stressed that they should treat any Chinese customs investigation as a criminal investigation and act accordingly.  They assured me that they would. I told them not to reveal anything to China customs as “anything can and would be used against them.” They assured me that they would act accordingly.

Just got an email from them saying that they didn’t but trying to assure me that they are confident everything will work out just fine. My response was somewhat along the lines of how I had just thrown a lit match into a can of gasoline but everything would be fine.  Well, I didn’t really use such a stupid car analogy, but you get the point.  Anyway, I cannot reveal more because the matter is still ongoing, but I am a lot less optimistic than they are about how it will all get resolved.  Maybe the can won’t explode.  Maybe.

So what is the point?  The point is that no matter how warm and fuzzy you want to get with China customs, they have zero desire to get all warm and fuzzy with you.  Their goal is to fine you as much as they can and then maybe just toss you in jail for good measure. Their goal is to make their quotas and you are their quota.  I am not kidding.  If China customs comes gunning for you, seek help and fast.  Why the weird picture of Kim Jung Un, especially when this blog is somewhat famous for never ever using pictures?  Two reasons.  One, Kim Jung Un looks so warm and fuzzy but he isn’t.  Two, I just figured I needed to do something/anything out of the ordinary to get people to listen on this point.

For more on this, please check out and read China’s Detention Of Foreigner For Alleged Customs Violation Should Be A Strong Warning

What do you think?

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Photo of Dan Harris Dan Harris

Dan Harris is internationally regarded as a leading authority on legal matters related to doing business in China and in other emerging economies in Asia. Forbes Magazine, Business Week, Fortune Magazine, BBC News, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Economist, CNBC, The New York Times, and many other major media players, have looked to him for his perspective on international law issues.