The United States (and many other countries) have export control laws forbidding the export of certain things to certain countries, including China. Violating U.S. export control laws is serious business, and yet I find that many companies either are not aware of such laws or just do not seem to take them seriously when exporting to China.

I was reminded of that today after reading of how a subsidiary of United Technologies was just fined more than USD$75 million by the U.S. Justice Department for having exported software to China ” knowing it would be used in the development of a military attack helicopter in violation of the U.S. arms embargo with China.” A few years ago, a company came to me with a large deal to sell something (I have to be really vague here) to China.  The item had me worried about U.S. export control laws so I asked the company whether they had analyzed whether their product might violate any export control laws.  The company pooh-poohed my concerns and so I called a lawyer friend of mine whose practice focuses in large part on export control laws to see whether I was out of bounds for being so worried. This lawyer confirmed my concerns at this company diffidence.  The company persisted in refusing to research and analyze this issue and so we turned down the legal work.  I have no idea whether that company went forward with the deal or not.

Countless other times, clients have the research done, but only after we bring to their attention the need to do so. This is one of those areas of law where you are better off conducting the research, saving it, and being able to produce it to your government if it raises any concerns.  Assuming your research showed the export was legal, the mere act of your having tried to comply should assist in proving that your violation was unintentional.

Anyway, be mindful that the United States (and many other countries) do not give carte blanche to selling anything and everything to China.  On the flip side, China does not accept everything either.

Just thought you should know….