international law

This is the twenty-first episode in our ongoing Saturday 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.Work Life Balance. OECD Better Life Index. Because the OECD compiled a bunch of statistics to rank its member countries on work-life balance. Because all of the top ten were European countries, which must say something: (1) Netherlands, (2) Italy, (3) Denmark, (4) Spain, (5) France, (6) Lithuania, (7) Norway, (8) Belgium, (9) Germany, (10) Sweden. Because I fault it for not having included cuisine quality and heavily weighted that, which would have led to Italy, Spain, and France being ranked one, two, and three. I mean, how can you not include food quality when ranking quality of life? Just saying.

2.  China Trademark Theft. It’s Baaaaaack in a Big Way. Because with so many foreign companies moving (or trying to move) their manufacturing out fo China, Chinese manufacturing companies no longer trust their American or European product buyers. They now (correctly) believe that these buyers are looking to leave China and this makes them much more willing/likely  to risk torpedoing their relationship with these buyers by stealing IP or by duplicating and selling their buyer’s products, or by sending them crap. That Chinese factories are hurting right now only adds to  the risk. So the need for you to register for a Chinese product before you start talking with anyone has gone way up, as has the need for an NNN Agreement that works.

3. China: Foreign Nationals Must Register Their Residence with Local Police within 24 Hours.  Law and Border. Because if you are a foreigner China views you as a threat and it would just as soon you not be there. Because we have gotten ten times the number of people writing us with China visa problems this year than last year and our China lawyers don’t even handle China visa issues for anyone but existing clients. Because along the same lines, we are still getting a steady stream of people writing us about the Chinese police “raiding” their apartment building or office to conduct hair tests for cannabis. See  How to do Business in China without Going to Prison. And don’t even get me started on how badly China treats its English teachers.

4. The Untold Story of How George W. Bush Lost China. Foreign Policy. Because my first thought upon seeing the title of this article was, “nope,” but after reading it my thought was “yup.” Because just about all of us (myself included) bought into the now disproved narrative that engaging China would lead it on a path to “true free enterprise.” Because few at the time understood that China was lying when it agreed to “play by international trade rules and . . . bring its often opaque and cumbersome government apparatus into harmony with a world order that demands clarity and fairness.” Because I get a bizarre sort of kick in putting “China’ in the same sentence with “clarity” and “fairness.” Because fool me once….

5. Why Factories Leaving China Aren’t Going to India. Economic Times. Because this relatively short article does an absolutely fantastic job describing what companies look for in deciding where to site a factory and what countries must do to get on the short list for manufacturing companies fleeing China. Because the winners in this race have so far been SE Asia and Africa [and Mexico] and not South Asia.

6. How The Women-Only Facebook Group Minbar-Shat Helped Overthrow The Sudanese Government. Elle. Because the “women of Minbar-Shat just wanted to snoop on their boyfriends. They helped topple a dictator instead.” Because what is happening in Africa does not get nearly enough play and because what is happening in Sudan impacts and influences not just for Sudan or just for Africa. Because one never knows when a spark will become a flame. See Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution.

7. Nobel Peace Prize Awarded to Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopian Prime Minister. New York Times. Because this is a great choice for so many reasons. Because See #5 above, where Ethiopia was singled out for taking manufacturing market share from China. Because See #6 above for why what happens in Africa can matter so much. Because it is the Nobel Peace Prize for Pete’s sake

8. European Firms in China Shift Supply Chains to Combat Trade War. Bloomberg. Because just about any time we talk about China’s decoupling from the West, someone writes to say that it not the West, it is just the United States. See also China Hit by EU Tariffs as High as 66%. See also #10 below. Because this article shows that European companies are hightailing it out of China at a rapid pace as well. Because smart companies (U.S., European or otherwise) see the writing on the wall and are at least looking at what it will take for them to reduce their China footprint. See also Can Your Business Afford/Stomach the China Risks? Because this article also indicates many European companies are engaging in illegal transshipping and they need to know that skirting U.S. tariffs is a really bad idea. See How To Get Rich From Your Competitor’s Illegal Transshipping.

9. NBA row heightens foreign companies’ fears they could cross China’s ever-shifting red lines as fallout from Rockets GM’s Hong Kong protest tweet continues. South China Morning Post. Because this was the big China news of the week. Because it was the slap in the face many needed to see China for how it really is. Because, to quote our own Steve Dickinson’s quote in this article, foreign companies are asking : “Why should I put a bunch of effort into building a business in China when it could be wiped out instantly for some reason we have no control over?”

10. China slimming down Belt and Road Initiative as new project value plunges in last 18 months. South China Morning Post. Because this indicates China is running low on hard currency and doing what it can to reduce its spending/wasting of it. Because this comes as absolutely no surprise to anyone (like the China lawyers at our firm) who has worked with a country on anything related to the Belt and Road. Because you can fool some of the people some of the time but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time. See also It Doesn’t Matter if Ecuador Can Afford This Damn. China Still Gets Paid. For an ultra-recent example of China botching a soft power issue, check out Beijing Takes Aim at Prague After ‘One-China’ Dispute Deepens.

Please share any of your thoughts on the above as a comment below.

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Photo of Dan Harris Dan Harris

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

He primarily represents companies doing business in emerging market countries, having spent years building and maintaining a global, professional network.  His 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.

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

Dan is a frequent writer and public speaker on doing business in Asia and constantly travels between the United States and Asia. He most commonly speaks on China law issues and is the lead writer of the award winning China Law Blog. 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 Dan regarding various aspects of his international law practice.

Dan is licensed in Washington, Illinois, and Alaska.

In tandem with the international law team at his firm, Dan focuses 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.