Field of Dreams. Iowa. Photo by JoeyBLS

Got a rather harsh (to put it mildly) email today, from a clearly disgruntled reader. So disgruntled in fact that my entire email response consisted of the following:

One of the things I have learned is to avoid the things that aggravate me and that I can easily avoid. I simply find it better to watch Netflix or read a good novel than to wallow in those things that anger me. I am not trying to tell you how to lead your life but it does seem to me that you would be doing yourself a big favor by ceasing to read our blog or our Facebook page –whhich seems to piss this person off even more than our blog. [NOTE: I did not link over to our China Law Blog Facebook page in my email response, but I am doing so now in a shameless effort to get more readers on there].

Anyway, if you spent the time parsing through the multiple f-bombs and comments regarding my intelligence (or, more accurately, the lack thereof) the gist of this email was that when we first started this blog we told the truth about China but we’ve now become such Trumpites (the emailer constantly used that term, which I think is actually the first time I’ve ever heard it so kudos for that one) that we’ve become “blinded to reality.” He actually cited to a post I did way back in 2006, entitled China Through Rose Colored Glasses as proof that my own mental faculties are in decline and that I am “choosing to be a Trumpite over accuracy and telling the truth.”

WRONG. And below is the email I initially wanted to write until the Zen side of me wisely took over.

I do not know where you get the idea that I am a Trumpite. To the extent that means I have ever or will ever support President Trump, you could not be more wrong as I dislike pretty much everything about him. I vehemently disagree and dislike his politics,  his character, and what he is doing to my country and to the world. The mere fact that we may agree on a few things regarding one country (China) does not make me a Trumpite and your accusations of that are way off base and only reveal your irrationality.

Anyway, I did use to view China with rose colored glasses both because I was younger and more naive back then because there was a lot more evidence back then to do so.

I now wear emphatically clear reading glasses (from Warby Parker, and which I did not need back in 2006) and though I would not describe myself as a China Bear, I do strive to be a China realist — which is pretty much the same way I viewed myself back in 2006 as well. But things have changed in China since I wrote that 2006 post and if you disagree with me on this, fine, but I find your putting all the change on me rather naive. When I wrote that post I saw the problems in China (including many of the same problems that are causing so much of the world to view China so suspiciously today) but back then, China was relatively new to the international trade game and to IP protections. And so, like a promising major league rookie, I (like so many others) was willing to focus more on China’s incredible potential than on its weaknesses. But just as I can accept rookie mistakes from a rookie while at the same time getting incredibly irritated when I see those same mistakes in a ten year veteran, I feel entirely justified in now being tired of waiting for China to reach a point where its economy is as open to foreign companies (or protects intellectual property) at a level similar to those countries with which it primarily does business.

But just to be clear, I am no fan of Trump and I have serious reservations about how he is trying to stop China from being such a bad actor on the world economic stage. But it is true that I am incredibly frustrated with how China treats foreign companies (i.e., my own clients — many of whom I consider my friends — and most of whom are based in the United States, Canada, Australia, Great Britain, Spain, France, Germany, Latin America, and Northern Europe.

And look, I understand that your livelihood depends almost entirely on China (I searched his email and determined this), but I can also tell you that is exactly why you should step back and look again and make sure you are in fact seeing things as they are and not just as you appear to so desperately wish them to be. I too wish they were otherwise, but I am not willing to compromise my objectivity so as to make true what I see to be false.

Am I off base here or just too jaded (like pretty much everyone who has had to fight against China for a decade or more) or a bit of both?

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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.