international law

This is part 8 of our series on eight+ things to read about China and a lot more. We constantly get emails from readers asking what to read on China and all sorts of things related and even barely related to China and this series is intended to constantly and consistently answer these questions.

As we said in our initial post on this, our plan is to list out eight (or so) articles we benefitted from reading and think you our readers would also benefit from reading, along with a very brief explanation as to why the particular article was included. More specifically:

The articles will likely include many on China and on Asia and a few on international trade, international politics, Spain and Latin America, economics and really just anything else we believe might benefit our readers or even that we just want people to read. We do not plan to choose articles that push our or any other political agenda or any other agenda for that matter, but having said that, we are not objective and our views may creep through. Our goal though is to focus on articles that are important or helpful or — most importantly — that make you think. Our posting of an article will NOT mean we agree with all of it or even any of it. Most of the articles will be from the week preceding the post but we will also sometimes throw in older articles (classics if you will) as well.

Please do not hesitate to comment at the end of this or any other post. We cannot tell you how much we appreciate your comments, good, bad and indifferent.

Here we go, in absolutely no particular order.

  1. China says there will be no trade deal unless existing tariffs are stripped. CNBC. Because way back in early October, 2018, we proclaimed US-China tensions wer the New Normal and suggested everyone should get used to that and act accordingly. Because on May 4, 2019 (literally the day before President Trump’s new tariff tweet that rocked the world), in The US-China Trade War: Winter is Coming we said there would be no trade deal and even if there were such a deal, it would not matter much because US-China trade tensions would continue with things like bans and duties. Because on May 8, we posted The US-China Cold War Starts Now: What You Must do to Prepare, listing out what companies should be doing in light of what we described as a “straight-line” decline in US-China relations. Our writings on US-China relations have been unabashedly negative, not because we have any desire (or ability) to stir up tensions in US-China relations, but because we feel an obligation to tell it like it is to our readers and our clients, while all the while our international manufacturing lawyers have been continuously working to help companies reduce or eliminate their China footprint by going into less risky countries like Thailand, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malysia, Indonesia, Turkey, etc. Now back to the CNBC article listed above. China has made clear pretty much since day one of the trade war that it will not do a deal unless all tariffs are first removed and the United States has insisted that is a non-starter. Because one side will need to give on their demands on this and we do not see either side doing so. It has now been exactly a year since the U.S. first imposed tariffs on goods from China and there remain two camps regarding the likelihood of a deal. Because there are the Wall Street banks and analysts (who badly want a deal), who keep insisting a deal is imminent because it makes “compelling economic sense” for there to be a deal. Mostly on the other side, are the political scientists and the China experts who believe that neither side has the political will or the political capital or even enough desire or concern for their own citizens to make a deal. Because after one year with no deal, it is amazing how little the views of the economics side have shifted. Because we think the right answer lies in the fact that so many companies whose actions have real life consequences are moving out of China or trying to move out of China. Because there probably will eventually be a US-China deal but by the time it happens it will hardly matter because “the US-China ship will have already sailed.” See also today’s SCMP article, US-China trade war: ignore the hype, Trump and Xi are no closer to a deal, even if they are ‘friends.’  What do you predict?
  2. “Our revolution won”: Sudan’s opposition lauds deal with military. Al Jazeera. We keep writing about the Sudan because what is happening there is important and is pretty much being ignored by US media and because what is happening there deserves coverage and because what is happening there could be a precursor to what happens elsewhere.
  3. Mercer 2019 Cost of Living Rankings. Mercer. Because we love statistics and because so many of our readers are expats and because Barcelona shows up as a less expensive city than Madrid, which is something I have always claimed but on which I could never get anyone to concede — especially our lawyers in Barcelona.  See also, HSBC’s recent expat survey here.
  4. China’s trade war manufacturing exodus could be hastened by EU-Vietnam trade deal, analysts say. SCMP. Because many seem to believe/want to believe that only the United States has issues with China’s closed markets/unfair trade policies, but that is simply not the case. Around 30% of our clients are not US companies and they (especially the Canadians and the Europeans and especially those who ship Chinese products to the United States) are also looking to leave China. Because this article shows the EU is very cognizant of not becoming too dependent on China and this free trade deal it made with Vietnam is huge and is going to lead even more European companies to leave China for Vietnam. Here’s the thing about Vietnam right now though: it is getting pretty busy and so finding good suppliers and getting products made there and shipped from there just keeps getting tougher. Also, many are worried that the U.S. will slap tariffs on Vietnam because of suspicions that it is engaging in massive amounts of illegal transhipping. See U.S. Slaps Import Duties of More Than 400% on Vietnam Steel and US-China Tariff Updates: What You Can (and Should NOT) do NOW. 
  5. Professor faces 219-year prison sentence for sending missile chip tech to China. Verge. Because academia should be international and non-discriminatory and because few want to see the U.S. revert to McCarthyism or WWII type concentration camps or similar. And yet, there are indisputably spies amongst us.  Because this is such an important issue that SupChina has begun tracking it in The U.S. Sinophobia Tracker: How America Is Becoming Unfriendly To Chinese Students, Scientists, And Scholars, which itself is well worth bookmarking. For the flip side, read Chinese Universities Ordered to Spy on Staff, Students in Ideological Crackdown.
  6. Sun, Sand, and the $1.5 Trillion Dark Offshore Economy. Because there will always be tension between countries that want massive privacy to encourage foreign companies to use their country for their offshore companies on the one hand and countries that want transparency for tax and national security reasons on the other hand. Our observation as international lawyers is that too often companies believe offshore companies are more valuable than they really are and too often they are encouraged in this belief by service providers who want to make a buck by setting up these offshore companies and then continue making a buck by servicing them indefinitely. We had a company come to us with about 50 offshore entities for which it was spending about $250,000 a year (not to mention employee time) and our international lawyers restructured them down to four entities in a few weeks, for which this company is eternally grateful.
  7. From seed to Series A: Scaling a startup in Latin America today. Because so many countries in Latin America are doing well economically and yet it is still not on the radar of enough American or European companies. Because about ten years ago I asked a very large Central American retailer of a particular product what its costs savings were in China and they told me China cost more than having their products made in Central America and so I then asked whether it was a quality issue and they said that the quality was better in Central America also. They then explained that Central American consumers assumed products from China were cheaper and of better quality and so this company felt it had no choice but to use China for manufacturing. I do not know if this is still true, but I do know that foreign companies — especially US and Canadian companies need to start more seriously looking at Latin America and many are.
  8. A math equation that predicts the end of humanity. Vox. Because humanity has only 760 years left!?
  9. First photos of British tourists who ‘plunged to death taking selfie’ in Spain. The Mirror. Because with so many people dying while taking selfies, we may actually have less than 760 years left.
  10. Huawei staff CVs reveal alleged links to Chinese intelligence agencies. The Telegraph. Because Huawei keeps claiming it is independent of the Chinese government but pretty much all the direct and circumstantial evidence and common sense says this is not true. Why would a company this big not be publicly traded if it were not controlled by the Chinese government/military?
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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.