By Steve Dickinson, from Shanghai
The Chinese media response to yesterday’s Sichuan Province earthquake has been unexpected. When these sorts of things happened in the 80s or the 90s or even two years ago, there was a virtual media blackout. Not true for this disaster. Local newspapers were full of stories with precise details. On my television, four stations were broadcasting live footage of the damage and the relief efforts. This is a striking change from the past. As I was watching the coverage, CCTV 4 (central government owned and controlled) ran a story about the response of foreign governments to the disaster. Messages of condolence and offers for aid were published from four countries: Japan, the United States, France and Germany. No such messages were broadcast from Russia or India, two countries bordering on China who are in the best position to provide immediate assistance. Maybe I am reading too much into this, but I see it as a gesture from the central government to portray the four countries mentioned in a positive light after the recent wave of anti-western sentiment related to the Olympics torch relay.
I think it also bears mentioning that the English version of Wikipedia has been unblocked for the past several weeks. There has been no announcement of why this has occurred or for how long it will last. I assume the reason for this unblocking is that Wikipedia is now such a critical source of information that Beijing has determined denying its citizens access to it will just hurt China with little corresponding benefit. If I am correct about this, it should remain open indefinitely.
UPDATE: Jonathan Ansfield has a great post on Newsweek’s Countdown to Beijing Blog, entitled, “Seismic Shift: State TV on Speed,” focusing on China’s state TV coverage of this disaster.

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Dan Harris

I am a founder of Harris Bricken, an international law firm with lawyers in Los Angeles, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, China and Spain.

I mostly represent companies doing business in emerging market countries. It has taken me many years to build my network and it takes constant communication and travel to maintain it. My work has been as varied as securing the release of two improperly held helicopters in Papua New Guinea, setting up a legal framework to move slag from Canada to Poland’s interior, overseeing hundreds of litigation and arbitration matters in Korea, helping someone avoid terrorism charges in Japan, and seizing fish product in China to collect on a debt.

I was named as one of only three Washington State Amazing Lawyers in International Law, I am AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory (its highest rating), I am rated 10.0 by AVVO.com (its highest rating), and I am a SuperLawyer.

I am a frequent writer and public speaker on doing business in Asia and I constantly travel between the United States and Asia. I most commonly speak on China law issues and I am the lead writer of the award winning China Law Blog (www.chinalawblog.com). Forbes Magazine, Fortune Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, Investors Business Daily, Business Week, The National Law Journal, The Washington Post, The ABA Journal, The Economist, Newsweek, NPR, The New York Times and Inside Counsel have all interviewed me regarding various aspects of my international law practice.

I am licensed in Washington, Illinois, and Alaska.

In tandem with the international law team at my firm, I focus on setting up/registering companies overseas (via WFOEs, Rep Offices or Joint Ventures), drafting international contracts (NDAs, OEM Agreements, licensing, distribution, etc.), protecting IP (trademarks, trade secrets, copyrights and patents), and overseeing M&A transactions.