Archives: Shanghai

I just love this article.  For so many reasons.

The article is entitled, Quenching your thirst on road to democracy: Coke, Pepsi wage war in long-isolated Myanmar, and I like it for the following reasons:

  1. It reinforces what we have been saying about Myanmar (see Myanmar Foreign Investment. Difficult And Expensive, But Opportunities Are There).  It is a great place for big companies like Coke and Pepsi, who need to go there to establish their footholds, but there is little evidence that it is ripe for small companies that need to make profits relatively quickly.
  2. It shows the importance of being first to market.
  3. It shows how local domestic companies can and do compete against the “big boys,” and of how when it comes to consumers, little is certain.
  4. I am convinced it has tremendous applicability for doing business in China as a whole and in its various regions.

Just last week, I was talking with a consumer goods company of ours and they told me that their sales were going really well in both Shanghai and Beijing, but “outside those two cities, we might as well not even exist.  In fact, we don’t really exist.”  They are at the point where they are trying to decide whether to spend a lot of money ramping up (really beginning) their operations outside those two cities.  The person with whom I spoke said that their main impetus for believing that they need to do something is not so much the profits they think they will achieve, but rather their belief that if they do not go beyond Beijing and Shanghai with their operations, their Beijing and Shanghai sales will eventually erode in the face of eventually larger and more national competitors.

What do you think?  Relevant for doing business in China?  If so, how? What China markets still present opportunities for foreign companies and what markets are already pretty much closed?

Excellent/fascinating/incisive analysis of why Seoul is constantly becoming a “nicer” city and why Shanghai and Beijing are not.  Whatever the explanation (the writer attributes it to politics), I think he (Guy Sorman) has nailed it in this City Journal article, entitled, “Asian Megacities: How politics has shaped the growth of Shanghai, Beijing, and Seoul.”  I have spent considerable time in all three cities every year for more than a decade and I see where he is coming from with his assessments of all three.  Every year Seoul gets more vibrant, more accessible, and less polluted. It is difficult to say all three of those things about either Shanghai or Beijing.

If you are interested in any of the three cities or in urban development in Asia or in general, I recommend you read this article.  And then let us know what you think.

UPDATE:  The Financial Times just today (4-14-2013) did a story, entitled, “China must take care of its city-dwellers.”

UPDATE:  Agenda Beijing did a riff on our post and Sorman’s article in its own post, entitled, A World Class City? Not Beijing – And Here’s Why [link no longer exists].

What makes a city great?  I just got back from a week in New York and I just love the place.  I love that I can go to a place like Russ & Daughters, a Jewish food shop, staffed by South Americans and a Sherpa (yes a real Sherpa) who speak some Yiddish.  I love that I can go to a home-style Japanese restaurant where everyone outside of my immediate group appears to be Japanese or Japanese-American.  I love that there are literally hundreds of museums and cultural institutions.  I have a friend who has a friend who when he retired said that he would go to a different museum every day for five days out of the week for a year and he did.  I love the fashion and the stores.  I love that I walk just about everywhere, without ever getting bored.  I love the parks and the buildings.  I love the history. I love the humor.  I even love the cockiness. New York is a great city.

London is a great city.  Paris is a great city.  Istanbul is a great city. This is just my own list of places that immediately spring to mind.  What they all share is that three months is not nearly enough time to take them in.

Does Shanghai belong among the greats? I kept asking this as I read a truly great article on Shanghai’s development/history/architecture/urbanism, entitled,  “Head of the Dragon: The Rise of New Shanghai.” The article is an excerpt from A History of Future Cities, a very soon to be released book by Daniel Brook. The article on Shanghai is quite long, but also quite fascinating and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in China history, architecture or urbanism.

So is Shanghai a great city?  Maybe. Its sheer scale is amazing. The Bund is great. Xintiandi is special.  The Shanghai Museum is world class.  But is Shanghai truly a great world city and, if so, what makes it so, and if not, why not?

What do you think?

 

Did a post the other day, entitled, Will The Last Expat In China Please Turn Off The Lights?  It was on how it seems so many well-known/well-respected expats are leaving China and writing about it.  Got a lot of really good comments to that post, but the most recent one really stood it.  It is from “Harold Janson” and while I find it far too harsh and even inaccurate in many respects, I do think it raises some interesting and controversial issues. Most importantly, I think it is well worth a read and so I am running it below.

I’ve been here for a solid 12 years.  Married, own an apartment have a nice sporty car and am starting a family.  I missed out on the 80s and the fun of FEC, but oh the memories China and I share.  Yes, prices have risen, property has gotten expensive and the little annoyances have never improved.  There is a series of letters by an American in Shanghai that was written a good 100 years ago. It should be required reading for every single expat in China as a primer.  Simple fact is that some things never change, no matter how much you want them to, no matter how much you push and scream for them to change, they just simply will not.  Or they change, but not for the better as far as you are concerned.  And this is China.  Accept it, adapt to it or give up and run away.

Do I expect the best schools in the world for my future crotch goblins? No, of course not.  They will be getting a Hukou and slapped into the private schools nearby which are reasonably priced and this will be supplemented by being good parents who give a damn.  The resources are just there for the picking to be honest and they are not expensive.  Want to teach your kid all about electronics? Taobao and the local shops have EVERYTHING you could possibly need.  Art classes in school not up to your expectations? Make connections with a professional artist who can use an eager assistant and some cash… loads of starving artists who would jump at it.  I have done work with the international schools and they are honestly a joke, loads of cash, loads of resources, but they are daycare facilities for lazy expats and the kids don’t come out all that great in the end.  Quite a few just go with homeschooling if the kid has a foreign passport.  When it comes down to it, if you are so busy that you have no time for your own kid and don’t earn enough to pay for an international daycare school, then yep, your time here is at an end.

Now, my job is flexible as all hell, I can technically live whereever the hell I want to without any real impact.  I can work from my apartment in Beijing as easily as I can work from our house in Shaanxi as easily as I can work from a beach in Thailand.  I choose to live here and continue to choose to live here, not in spite of the random crap that has to be dealt with, but because of all the great stuff living here provides.

So, some whine about the pollution.  I dont care to be honest, it’s better than it was when I first came.  So much better.  Gone is the black smog-line on white tiled buildings.  Gone is the “death zone” between floors 11-15.

Whine about the water.  It starts out fine, the problem is what happens to it once it reaches your faucet.  Surely you can afford 20 kuai for a bottle of nongfu? Or a few hundred for a decent filter system.  It’s also not some magical new thing and people have been boiling and drinking it forever without dying from it.

Whine about the food scandals.  If anything, it’s a GREAT thing that they are being exposed, do you honestly believe for even an instant that this has not been going on forever? Exposure and press means it’s being cracked down on at least to some degree rather than ignored entirely.  What’s that you say? Buying food out of the back of that van parked by the river to save 3 mao isn’t a great idea?  Gasp!

Whine about the prices going up.  So on one hand you want to see infinite growth, and on the other you want to see prices stay the same cheap forever, well, that doesn’t happen.  I’m sorry, but those days of eating out for 20 kuai are gone.  Just like those days of fen being useful are gone forever.

Whine about the traffic.  Blame here is half-half.  Half on the foreign companies marketing cars as the new “must have” and half on Chinese for being first generation drivers.  As a driver in Beijing, I can flat out state for a fact that the majority of traffic jams are caused by utter stupidity, not lack of infrastructure.  In my family, I am 5th generation driver who was taught by a 4th generation driver.  This is a country that until literally 8 years ago had no laws that said you had to pay attention to stop lights and that turning on lights at night going through villages was illegal. The vast majority of drivers here have only picked it up over the last 15 or so years, so yes, it’s chaos, this will not change overnight.  Laws need to be refined, attitudes need to adapt.

Whine about the economy.  A “hard landing” is 7% growth.  Think about that for a moment before you keep reading.  All that “wasteful spending” in the end has resulted in some magnificent achievements that will stand regardless of what happens.  Yell about ghost malls which popped up once developers were banned from squatting.  They later refined the squatting practice and turned it into golf courses and “parks” which counted as “green space” for the neighboring communities and made local government look good on paper.  Malls are cheap use of large amounts of land for later, actual development.  Ghost cities.  They are not unsold, the problem is that the buyers were all investors with hot money to dump into something and by doing so inflated the prices to a point where locals had no real shot at it.  No longer possible now due to housing purchase restrictions, which is why all that capital is flying overseas to snap up property that can generate rent and produce some possible capital gains.  Rich people losing money isn’t something the government (or society) really cares about.

More on the economy.  China is stockpiling resources and acquiring hard assets.  After every bust there is a boom again and those who prepare for it best end up on top when it happens.  Economies pouring trillions into sustaining a failing status quo . . . . well, that’s not such a hot thing to think about.  Over here we have a lot of people in charge who really want to stay in charge and as such they will do pretty much anything they can to ensure they stay in charge.  China still has many many more tools in the box and bullets in the gun left.  Elsewhere? Not so much.  Please pay careful note to the way China is developing markets in South America and Africa, they are not simply “exploiting resources”, they are building future markets and bringing stability to places that HAVE been exploited and marginalized since forever.

Naked Officials.  This is actually a great thing in so many ways.  It pretty much ensures the end of the line for generational dynasties as far as government goes.  Sure, they’ll come back and be handed the keys to industry, but at least they will have actual skills to apply.  The next generation will see the spark of the next great boom.  And for the useless ones, well, they get to go be playboys overseas driving around in super cars and pissing away daddy’s ill-gotten money, at least we won’t have to deal with them over here anymore… good luck rest of the world!

The “me” culture and money money money.  What the hell did you expect to happen? The west wanted a market to dump their shit on and wanted a market that could afford it.  That was the entire basis of “opening China”.  You get a whole lotta “new money” that acts like “new money”, shock, surprise.  This spending is also the only thing that is keeping a large number of foreign blue chips in business anymore, as if they had to rely on revenue from their traditional markets, they’d have died out long ago.  The old petty corruption didn’t vanish when the figures grew larger, it just grew right along with them. Money buys power, power begets money.  The only difference here is that it’s more out in the open and obvious, while in the US, it’s all codified and legitimized in various ways.

Oh no, still no democracy.  1.? billion people, foreign interests running rampant, big money at play and wildly hot tempers when something doesn’t turn out as expected.  Sorry, but I prefer long-term planning and stability to everyone gets to choose the prettiest liar whose only thought is “how will I get elected again”.  Let those in the upper echelons fight it out amongst themselves in private, it really does not matter and there is infinitely better vetting and merit-based review than any voting will ever provide for.  Polarizing China is not a smart idea.

Speaking of politics… politics.  China’s growing a pair (finally), or at least realizing they can throw their weight around some.  It’s the Great Game all over again in many regards.  Soft power investments are paying off and attempts to harm the Chinese economy are not a smart idea… as it’s quite literally the only thing keeping many other nations and MNCs afloat right now.  If you track the oh-so-familiar buzz words in international media, you can pretty much pick apart who is on what side at least marginally.  It’s pretty entertaining to watch unfold and there are big things coming relatively soon.  One side making power plays, while the other side whines and moans about losing the game they designed to only allow for themselves to win.

Inflation… aka, the “bbbbut I’m not rich anymore” syndrome.  Sure, you came a long time ago, back when your precious forex was king.  You were pampered in a villa or compound and your “expertise” provided a wage that beyond comprehension for most.  Life was grand, taxi fare was a joke, fine dining was cheaper than fast food back home and personal servants were a dime a dozen.  You hung out and got shit-faced with other expats in run-down grungy bar-streets on beer that was cheaper than water.  Getting a hold of various imports made you the “go to guy” in your circle.   Hell, you didn’t even have to speak Chinese, just live in that bubble and your company got you a translator… after all, it’s not like they are going to trust the locals to manage their operations.  Well, that colonial life is nearing an end, sorry.  Chinese are coming back from overseas and are more qualified than you ever were, willing to work for far less and are far less demanding.  You never bothered to buy property, after all, rent was cheap and the company paid it.  You find yourself now in a hilarious situation where the economy boomed all around you and you were too trapped in your little bubble to notice.  Oh, and that side-project you were working on? Yea, it finally got shut down by the government because you never bothered to be legal about it.

How about now? Fairly easy to get pretty much everything, gone is the exciting thrill of the hunt for random shit to pamper your existence.  Vanishing are the quaint hutongs of Beijing that lack bathrooms and rustic living (most residents WANT to be developed so they can cash out on the property and have a modern life).  And suddenly you find that eating out is no longer cheaper than eating-in, it’s almost as if people demand more money for things in a world where your day job is reliant on pushing overpriced crap to the public.

Food inflation is not due to China, it’s due to global markets and that whole “one price” bullshit.  Also due to futures manipulation going on overseas, which is another whole ball of wax.  Wait and see what happens when China finally says enough and reinstates price controls and restricts exports of strategic resources.  Also, that money doesn’t just vanish, it’s transferring a whole shitload of wealth to the countryside…. those who fail to take advantage will be replaced with those who do.  You know, the quaint countryside of massive inefficiency, do you dare consider what will happen when it stops being so inefficient?  I’ll tell you what happens, things get magical.  In my wife’s small little farming village hometown, we have >personally< invested around $500k over the last 5 years in pushing for better practices and more economically productive labor.  Before we started, the average yearly income was around 6000 RMB per year, it’s pushing 60,000 now and it’s sustainable.  Small scale, only about 100 families, but it entirely reversed the flow of youth running to the cities there and neighboring villages are studying the hell out of what we did to make it happen.  I’m not an NGO, I’m not a profit-seeker, this isn’t even my field of expertise, it was a side project at best and it’s fun to see actual results happen.  And not, it was not altruistic, we have our own operations ongoing within the family and the proceeds from that are more than enough, boosted by economies of scale provided by the other families.  Fairly win-win in the end.

In summation, you only are gonna get out what you put into this place, and rarely, if ever will the two balance out, if the only thing you have to contribute is vague and intangible, that’s probably what you will get out of it at best.  Sorry English teachers, in the end you are useless sacks of white flesh.  Sorry expat bubble community, if the only thing you can do is cater to the expat community, don’t expect to see anything come from China.  Sorry trading companies, your reliance on cheap crap being made here that you can mark up 50x cost didn’t really benefit anyone in the end and those factories are being pushed up the value chain and cutting you the fuck out of the equation.  Sorry foreign consultants, an entire generation of Chinese are coming back from overseas and can do your job better.

If anything is going on here, it’s a shift, a rather large one, a rather difficult one, but a shift none the less.  Those who can’t hack it are smart to get out, because they will not survive.  You can see that shift rather clearly if you look at the composition of companies here.  Fewer companies with foreign management, far more with Chinese management.  You may feel it’s unfair, the government is denying you the ability to succeed through red tape and regulation and whatever your excuse is.  After all, you’ve been doing the same thing you’ve been doing for the past 20 years and suddenly it’s not working anymore.  Oops, China’s getting it’s shit together.  Labor laws are becoming a real thing, your business model is dying and you cannot adapt.  This exact shift happened to our own industry starting about 5 years ago.  We spent a decade offshoring our bitch-work to India for cheap while we made out like bandits.  Indian outsourcers kinda sorta got their shit together and realized they could have so much more of the pie, seeing as they were doing all the hard work already.  They shifted gears and are now becoming players on the scene, and they do it for cheap.  We have been forced to rethink our entire industry as they gobbled up a huge chunk of it.  This process is still ongoing.  Those that resist and cry about their clients being stolen ultimately just go under and fail, those that dream up excuses fail.  Those that innovate and reach are being rewarded with fat contracts and huge buyouts.

Summation numero 2: Far too many expats came here pampered and treated like royalty, and this made up for what was, in their minds, lacking or deficient.  They are now no longer royalty and those nagging issues either stayed the same or amplified from their view without the royal treatment to make up for it.  As the western economies are either dead or dying, there is also a large influx of Generation Worthless trying to carve out a living by rushing over here, and yes, they are annoying as all hell and piece by little piece helping to tear down that image you spent the last decade plus to build.  You went from 同志 to 外国朋友 to 老外 to 死老外 because of them, after all, you didn’t change, China changed and you don’t like it anymore.  So better find an excuse to get out of dodge and make it sound like you didn’t fail and have zero qualifications to deal with China.

As far as the “great expat exodus”, let me know when permanent resident card holders start fleeing en mass, not because I want to join in, but because that in and of itself is an amazing signal that there is a void to be filled.  Those who stay on through the tough times and make themselves useful have a history of receiving the greatest rewards later.

So what do you think?  Please don’t hold back, not that anyone would or ever does….

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I had dinner last night with two Chinese from Nanjing and two Americans.  The two Americans are both fluent in Chinese and have each spent well over a decade living and doing business in China.  The same is true of the two Chinese.  I greatly respect all four of these people.

The topic of China real estate came up during our dinner and, and I found myself in the more bullish camp. The two Americans both argued that China’s real estate bubble has already popped and that it is only going to get much worse.  I, along with the two Chinese, argued that China’s real estate had not really “crashed” and that I did not think it was going to crash in the same way it had in the United States. The two Americans kept making fun of me and saying that I sounded “just like the realtors who try to sell property.”  I responded by pointing out that I have been pretty bearish on China real estate for a long time but that there is a big difference between being bearish and believing there will be a crash, which to me means a plunge in real estate prices so deep that properties pretty much cease selling at any price and the rest of the economy is deeply impacted.

I then talked about how China’s real estate market is different from that in the United States, mostly due to the following:

  • Urbanization
  • The Chinese government’s close ties to its banks
  • The typical Chinese mortgagee being less leveraged than the typical American mortgagee was right before the crash in the United States.  I admit to not having solid evidence to support this.
  • Real estate demand in China is due in large part to there being a lack of other investments. This alone creates and props up demand.

I hate making the “it’s different this time” argument as I do think past performance is one of the view ways on which we can judge future performance, but at the same time, Shanghai isn’t Sacramento — heck, Sacramento isn’t even San Fransisco.

As I thought more about our discussion, I started thinking about how it has all of a sudden become almost too fashionable to paint China as finished economically. When it comes to investing, I think of myself of as a bit of a contrarian, and so I am now wondering if the recent onslaught of negative news on China might actually end up being a good thing. Does the fact that just about everyone (or at least it feels like just about everyone) is negative on China’s economy and real estate mean that we should be expecting an upswing soon?  Has the China is going to fall bandwagon gotten too big or is it justified?

What do you think?

Danwei.com did a blog post on a recent J.M. Gemini salary survey of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.  The salary survey is extensive in that it consists of about 25 pages of salary estimates for a whole slew of different jobs in these three cities. The survey itself points out that the salaries listed are just ranges and that they are “intended to give approximate salary ranges for the positions as described and
specific skills or experience requirements can mean that a premium may need to be paid.” I would add that you can generally expect salaries in second tier cities to be lower than those listed in the survey. Despite all these provisos, I found this salary survey to be quite helpful and the next time someone asks me what I think salaries are for a particular position, I will immediately refer them to this.

Danwei pulled the following jobs/monthly wages in RMB from the survey as representative:

Junior secretary: 2,500 – 3,500
Executive secretary / PA: 13,000 – 21,000
Accountant: 10,000 – 15,000+
Finance director: 65,000+
Quality control manager: 14,000 – 24,000
HR manager: 20,000 – 35,000+
Translator: 8,000 – 18,000+
News editor: 5,000 – 8,500
Web editor: 6,000 – 19,000+
IT Programmer: 5,000 – 9,000
CEO advertising agency: 70,000 – 100,000
Regional sales manager: 26,000 – 36,000+
Mechanical engineer: 10,000 – 16,000
Senior architect: 25,000 – 45,000

What do you think? Are the survey numbers in line with what you are seeing? Are you aware of any other recent salary surveys available on the Internet?

If you are not reading the McKinsey Quarterly, you should be. It is an absolutely superb source of information regarding China and, in particular, China as market. It is consistently one of (if not the) best sources for free in-depth analysis of the China market.

One of its recent issues has an article, entitled, “Is your emerging-market strategy local enough?” [free registration may be required]  Its subtitle explains the article: The diversity and dynamism of China, india, and Brazil defy any one-size-fits-all approach. But by targeting city clusters within them, companies can seize growth opportunities. The article then goes on to analyze and discuss China’s “22 distinct urban clusters,” dividing them between “mega,” “large” and small. The following seven qualified as mega:

  1.  Beijing-Tianjin-Shijiazhuang
  2.  Qingdao-Jinan
  3.  Nanjing
  4.  Shanghai
  5.  Hangzhou
  6.  Guangzhou
  7.  Shenzhen

I like this approach. A lot. For more on it, you can also check out this Harvard Business Review article by the same authors, entitled, “A Better Approach to China’s Markets.”

What do you think?

Got the following question regarding FICE (Foreign Invested Commercial Enterprise) today that I thought worth answering via a post:

As a company we have been planning how we step things up in China for several years and your comments have had a major influence on our thinking. I do have a question. I have heard about a corporate structure that you never seem to mention. FICE, Foreign Investment Corporate Entity I believe does not allow for manufacturing but does allow for multiple sites, whereas WOFEs are I believe single site operations. Does it truly exist? Why is it never mentioned as an option? Appreciate the info.

A FICE is a WFOE that is authorized to engage in wholesale and/or retail trade. The approval requirements for these sorts of entities tend to be stricter than for a manufacturing or service WFOE. Additionally, approval of a FICE usually must come at the provincial level, not the local level. There are some provinces that do not even accept FICE applications. Shanghai and Beijing have the authority to approve the establishment of a FICE, and for that reason, most FICE operations are formed in those two cities.

Foreign Invested Enterprises (FIEs) mostly consist of Wholly Foreign Owned Entities (WFOEs) and Joint Ventures (JVs). All Foreign Invested Enterprises must set out the nature of their business during the licensing phase of the entity registration process. There are all sorts of possible categories, including Regional Headquarters, Service, Purchasing Center, Research and Development Center, Investment/Holding Company, Service Company, Manufacturing Company and Foreign Invested Commercial Enterprise (FICE).

In the end though, a FICE is nothing more or less than a type of WFOE or JV.

Very interesting post today over at the All Roads Lead To China Blog, entitled, In Defense of the China Consultant. It caught my eye because it starts out saying that it was inspired by a recent post on here, “China as Currency Manipulator. Why Can’t We All Just Get Along? According to All Roads, this post, along with a number of other posts on other blogs, dealt with whether a China Consultant is needed and how to pick one.

The weird thing is that my post to which All Roads refers, never once mentions the word “consultant” and, near as I can tell, had absolutely nothing to do with the issues All Roads raises in his post. I am not sure if All Roads mistook someone else’s post for mine or if he accidentally linked to the wrong post on our blog. Either way, I am glad for his mistake as it now gives me the opportunity to agree wholeheartedly with him and to expand a bit on his post.

All Roads’ post talks of how there “has never been a true debate about the role of a consultant, or how firms should look to work with these people/ organizations. A debate that I would say is sorely needed. Not because I think that there is anything wrong with the ‘China consultant’, but because I feel there is a disconnect between the value that these people/organizations provide, what the client needs, and how an engagement should be structured for success”

All Roads then provides two very good and very recent examples in his work as a China consultant where his clients hired him to consult on China and then failed to heed his advice, at their own peril. All Roads then concludes his post by nothing that “there is absolutely nothing wrong with the ‘China Consultant’.

I agree 110%.

And because I am not a China consultant, my perspective is fully neutral.

Clients are always asking me and other lawyers in my firm for business advice and we are always very reluctant to give it. We are reluctant to give it because we are lawyers not consultants. If a client asks us whether we think their business should locate in Shanghai or in Chengdu, we might tell them that Shanghai courts/judges are much better than Chengdu courts/judges and so their IP will likely be better protected in Shanghai than in Chengdu, but we are not the people to talk to about rental rates, wage rates, electricity prices, water rates, quality of work force, etc. We have some idea of those things because we hear about them all them time from our clients, but our knowledge is mostly anecdotal.

We refer those clients to China consultants. If they have questions regarding how they can best get their product from Qingdao to Quincy, we refer them to logistics consultants. If their question is whether their office in Dalian will really be that much cheaper than in Shenzhen, we refer them to real estate consultants. If their question is how much it will cost for them to build such and such kind of facility in Chongqing, we refer them to China operational consultants. If their question is where they should go for good and cheap widgets, we refer them to sourcing consultants. If the question is whether it makes sense for them to translate their English brand names into Chinese, we refer them to branding consultants. If their question is whether there is a need for their product or service in China, we refer them to marketing consultants. If they need help with financial or tax matters, we refer them to financial and/or accounting consultants.

Occassionally, clients push to have my law firm do these sorts of things for them and our response to that is always the same: if you want to pay lawyer rates to have us do things at which we have never claimed expertise, you can, but I strongly suggest you use those who actually do these things ever day. We are batting 1000 in that no client has ever retained us for any of the above. And that is because I view China consultants as absolutely critical in many circumstances. I often then tell them to be suspicious of lawyers who claim to “consult” in addition to practicting law.

I have worked with dozens of “China consultants” and, almost without exception, I have found that when used properly, they bring real value to the companies that retain them. Until today, I never even knew there was a dispute about this, but if there is, please let the record reflect that I stand with the consultants on this one.

What do you think? Consultants, good or bad?