To put it mildly, a lot is happening these days in and with China. What is true this morning about a region in China or a company in China or a factory in China, may no longer be true this afternoon. The coronavirus is making people sick and killing people. It also is disrupting company plans and actions. Our social media pages reflect all this, oftentimes with a much stronger and more controversial viewpoint then on here. It is there — free of the great firewall — that those of us who write on here can fully express ourselves, and we do.
It is also on social media where we get the most heat. It is there that we are constantly accused of hating China and being China apologists. Truth is that all of us for China Law Blog both love and hate China. We all have spent huge chunks of our lives in China and working to smooth relations between China and the rest of the world. It is from this where we have come to love China.
But we are above all else lawyers who have been trained to analyze things objectively and to advocate for our clients. All of us have been trained to give our clients the truth as best as we can and then work with them in using that truth to plan their next moves and help them enact. This requires we not be emotional or loyal to any one side of anything before we have completed our research. This requires we sometimes defend China and at other times be harshly critical of it.
Things are tough in China right now. The coronavirus is ripping through parts of the country and impacting everything and China has done a poor job in dealing with it. When the virus first struck in Wuhan, the Chinese government focused on suppressing news about it, rather than suppressing the virus itself. Even today, it is not telling the truth about the numbers. When we say this, some people get angry. When we talk about Xinjiang and Hong Kong, people get angry at us. Way back in October, 2018, in Would the Last Company Manufacturing in China Please Turn Off the Lights, we started emphatically telling people that China had become far riskier and that they should be considering other countries to have their widgets made. Needless to say, this angered many as well. We had been beating that drum on social media before that and we have been beating it ever since. See e.g., our June, 2019 piece, Has Sourcing Product From China Become TOO Risky?
Without a doubt, the two biggest issues most companies that do business in or with China are facing these days are (1) where to have products made and what to do to prepare for the end of the coronavirus. The Coronavirus Is Wreaking Havoc on Supply Chains and companies that once depended fully on China are realizing they must diversify. Really diversify. But the coronavirus will eventually dissipate and that will create new opportunities for companies looking to do business in China or grow their business in China. And on that, we are really positive and optimistic.
We see China coming back better than before for foreign businesses. The Chinese government has been more encouraging of foreign businesses in the last few months than in a long time and we see that continuing. Some are saying the coronavirus will isolate China but we see it having the opposite effect. We see it leading to China opening up more to the world and becoming more flexible regarding foreign businesses operating on its soil. We constantly talk about these sorts of things on social media and we will be writing about them on here as well over the next few weeks. Despite all of China’s problems right now, we remain bullish on China overall.
In an effort to remain visible to our many readers in China, we are careful about what we write here on the blog. There are words we avoid using and topics we avoid discussing on here because we want our reach to include China and if China does not like something, its government has this “magical” ability to make it go away. And there is a lot China does not like these days.
Facebook and Linkedin and Twitter give us a a much greater ability to speak freely and because we have greatly ramped up what we do on social media.
Linkedin. We have a thriving China Law Blog Group on Linkedin that we maintain as a spam-free forum for China information, networking, and discussion. This group is always growing and now totals nearly 12,500 members. I urge you to join it.
We have had some great discussions there, as evidenced both by their numbers (some have gotten more than 100 comments) and by their substance. Our discussions range from people asking and trying to answer questions like, “why is it so difficult to do business in China” or ”what do I need to do to get my Chinese counter-party not to breach my contract” to the ethereal, like “when will we know China is taking innovation seriously?” Mostly though the focus is — not surprisingly — on doing business with China or in China.
The members of our Linkedin group are fairly evenly split between those who live and work and do business in China and those who do business with China from the United States, Australia, Canada, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and other countries in Asia. Some of our members are international lawyers and some are China lawyers, but most are businesspeople and some are academics (students or professors). We have senior level personnel (attorneys and executives) from large, medium, and small companies and tons of mid-level and junior personnel as well. This diversity enlightens the discussions, though, honestly, I sometimes wish the discussions were more rigorous than they are, but I attribute the lack of discussion rigor more to the location (a group on Linkedin) than to anything else.
What truly separates us from most (all?) of the other Linkedin China groups is that we remove anything that smacks of spam or is not relevant for those doing business with or in China. We have become so proficient at shutting down spam that hardly anyone even tries to sneak spam past us anymore. Our hewing to such a tight line on what we permit means we do not get a large volume of postings, but this also means we do not waste people’s time. If you want to learn more about doing business in China or with China, if you want to discuss China law or business, or if you want to network with others doing China law or business, I urge you to and join our China Law Blog Group on Linkedin. The more people in our group, the better the discussions. So please do join us there.
Individually, many of us post often on there about China matters and we are also all always accessible there. You can find our China lawyers and China trade specialists on Linkedin as follows, some of whom post there more than others:
My personal Linkedin page has just a shade under 10,000 followers and that has led me to post more often there on all things China. I welcome new followers and new connections, though I warn you that I tend to be slow in responding to connection requests. I promise not to overwhelm you with posts: I post roughly 3-5 times a week.
Facebook. Our China Law Blog Facebook page, is thriving as well and heading towards 25,000 followers (this is its number of “likes”). We use Facebook to post interesting, important and entertaining articles about China. Posts there get a lot of comments and discussion, often heated. We tend to be very open and opinionated and free-wheeling there. With so much going on with China and Hong Kong these days, our Facebook page has become a key source. I urge you to go there and “like” us so you can benefit from what we are doing there. Plus, I really want us to get to 25,000 likes!
I am also now posting a lot on Twitter at @danharris. I left Twitter for many years but I am now happy to be back as I enjoy the sheer immediacy of it. I most definitely do not hold back there but I also post on non-China things from time to time.I welcome more followers there as well. I also urge you to check out and follow Fred Rocafort from my firm on Twitter as well, (@RocafortFred). Until recently, Fred was living in Hong Kong/the PRC and his tweets (oftentimes in both English and Spanish) do a great job of bridging the various gaps between HK, the PRC and the West. Jonathan Bench (@jonathan_bench), who spent around five years living in China and now splits his time between Seattle and Salt Lake City, is also a frequent poster on Twitter about all things China and I urge you to follow him as well. We also have a China Law Blog feed, @chinalawblog and it would be great if you were to follow that too.
Many of us are also on WeChat and I will be doing a separate post on that once I gather up the requisite information on who among us is active on that social media platform as well.
We look forward to discussing China with you online!