On this Thanksgiving Day, we want to take time out to express those things related to China for which we are thankful. Just to be clear, we are focusing on China, not because we think China takes priority over everything else (because it does not), but because this is a China blog. So with that caveat, here goes:
1. We are thankful for our readers, here and on our Linkedin and Facebook and Twitter pages (here and here. We are thankful for your loyalty and especially thankful for being able to interact with you. We are thankful for your comments and your emails, which constantly teach us new things and constantly challenge us. Most of all, we are thankful that you trust us for your information. Before we started this blog way back in January, 2006, we wrote the following Mission Statement for it:
We discuss the practical aspects of Chinese law and how it impacts business there. We tell you what works and what does not and what you as a businessperson can do to use the law to your advantage. Our aim is to assist businesses already in China or planning to go into China, not to break new ground in legal theory or policy.
We want to engage in conversations with, for and about the person who wants practical information on starting and growing a business in or involved with China.
We will be challenging various misconceptions the West has about law in China, including that the law in China does not really matter or that guanxi can supplant it. We will help you figure out how you can use the law as both a shield and a sword. We will give insights to achieve practical solutions, while doing our best to entertain. We know lawyers are not popular, and though we are ourselves quite likable, we recognize the need to avoid those things that incite lawyer hatred. We strive to avoid legal jargon and namby-pamby language that attempts to camouflage our views or to avoid controversy.
We want this blog to be a place for both conversation and controversy. We expect many of you to disagree with us at least some of the time and we are fine with that. We always strive to avoid boring you or being unwilling to take a stand. We are not going to be afraid of being wrong—in fact, we want you to tell us when and how we are wrong. If you want “legalese” or long strings of caveats, you are going to have to pay exorbitant legal fees to get that elsewhere.
We tell you more than just that the law is this and this is what needs to be done to comply. We discuss how the Chinese laws as written may say one thing, but our experience on the ground in China dictates something else. We tell you when you need to do more than just follow the law to succeed, and we set out exactly what that something else is. We also will sometimes regale you with stories about the Chinese lawyers with whom we work, the foreign and Chinese businesspeople with whom we deal, and even the places we go. There will be times where our lawyer ethical rules prohibit us from naming names, but we will always work to tell the full story and when we cannot, we will usually make that clear and explain why that is the case.
It has become a blog cliché to implore readers for their input, but it is so important we must join the crowd on this. We do not purport to know everything about Chinese law. That is impossible. Our strengths are forming companies in China, drafting contracts with Chinese companies (in English and in Chinese), employment law, intellectual property protection and international litigation and arbitration. We welcome your comments, suggestions and ideas on any area of law relating to conducting business in China. China is anything but monolithic and we rely in part on you, our readers, to round out this site with your own stories.
In plain language, we ask you to write us early and often. We review your comments before we post them, but that does NOT mean you should not criticize us or disagree with us. Our review is to filter out comments that are without substance and/or personally abusive. We want to encourage a high level of discussion, but we will not ban or delete your comments just because you come after us.
You, our readers, have exceeded our wildest dreams by not only commenting often, but commenting with intelligence.
2. We are thankful that no matter how bad relations between China and the West might get (and they are at their lowest ebb since we started this blog and we see them only getting worse we remain truly moved by the deep and meaningful relations we have with so many people all over the world, including China. We are also thankful for the recent stirrings/yearnings/protests for freedom happening around the world and within China’s own sphere of influence/domination.
3. We are thankful for each and every award we have received, both as bloggers and as lawyers because we know none of those would have been possible without you.
4. We are thankful for having the best clients in the world. As much as we love helping our clients with legal advice, we more than that love the discussions we have with them about their goals and their families and their efforts to use their companies to change the world. Every year we have a firm retreat somewhere in the world at which we bring together all of our people from around the world and discuss the last year and plan for the next year and every single year we end up talking about our great clients and how innovative and dynamic and daring they are. So yes, I realize this is going to read like a kiss-ass paean to many of you, but I am willing to take that risk because I know it to be true.
5. We are thankful to the lawyers around the world who constantly trust us with doing the international legal work for THEIR clients.
6. We are thankful for our ability to say whatever we want, be it offensive, stupid, or just flat out wrong. We love our freedom of speech and we always try our utmost not to abuse it. We have in the last 15 years no doubt offended some of you, said some stupid or flat out wrong things, but our goal has always been and always will be to tell the truth as best we can.
7. Most of all, we are thankful for the great friends we have made through this blog and through our work, who are far far far too numerous to mention. You are our everything.
Again, thank you from all of us (in the United States, in China and in Spain) to all of you!
May each and every one of you have a Happy Thanksgiving.