Just read a Bloomberg News article, “Proview Using ‘IPad’ Name is Harmful: Apple,” that quotes me on the Apple-Proview dispute, as follows:

“It’s not really trademark law, it’s about whether the trademark was legally transferred or not,” Dan Harris, a Seattle-based lawyer with Harris Bricken who handles cases on intellectual property in China, said before the hearing. “Proview Taiwan agreed to sign over the trademark, but Proview Taiwan didn’t own the trademark.”

I see the case as being about authority. Authority to sell the iPad trademark. Who had the authority to sell the iPad trademark to Apple back when Apple (acting through a third party intermediary) thought it purchased the trademark for iPad in China back in 2009?  Let me explain.

If you bought the Brooklyn Bridge from me, you would not own it. Why not? Because I cannot transfer title in the Brooklyn Bridge to anyone because I do not own it in the first place. This analysis should be the starting point for analyzing the Apple-Proview case. I say this because it appears that Apple bought the iPad China trademark from a company that did not own it. Apple (again, acting through a third party intermediary) bought the iPad China trademark from a Taiwanese company called Proview Electronics Company, Ltd. (“Proview-Taiwan”) at a time when a Shenzhen company called Proview Technology Shenzhen Co, Ltd. (“Proview-Shenzhen”) actually owned it.

So the big legal issue in China is not really a trademark issue, it is an ownership and authority issue. The ownership of the trademark when it was allegedly sold is not really in doubt; it was owned by Proview-Shenzhen. The real question is whether Proview-Shenzhen authorized Proview-Taiwan to sell the iPad trademark to Apple and that is mostly what is being argued in the Chinese courts.

To modify the Brooklyn Bridge analogy, let’s say that you bought a house from Mr. Jones and it turned out that Mr. Jones did not own the house, but rather, his wife, Mrs. Jones, owned the house. If Mr. Jones and Mrs. Jones were in the midst of a divorce and she had told him not to sell the house and had told you that she owned the house and so Mr. Jones could not sell it to you, your claim to own the house through the purchase would probably be pretty weak. But let us suppose that Mr. and Mrs. Jones were happily married and Mrs. Jones was right there during the negotiations for the sale of the house and never said a word about how she was the one who actually owned it. Well your claim to own the house would be a lot stronger.

The Apple-Proview case is dealing with similar factual issues, as can be seen in the Bloomberg article. In other words, it looks like a factual mess.

And that is not the only factual mess. Remember how I keep saying Apple used a third party intermediary to try to buy the China iPad trademark. Well, Proview-Taiwan is suing Apple in the United States about that, claiming that the way Apple sought to buy the iPad name constituted fraud and unfair competition. My initial reaction upon hearing of this lawsuit was to assume it had little validity. I assumed this because it is quite common for big companies (small ones too) to try to buy something through a third party intermediary so as to avoid revealing to the seller how much the desired item may really be worth and I had never heard of a lawsuit being brought over that.  But in reading, “How Apple snookered Proview to get the iPad trademark,” I am not prepared to just laugh off that lawsuit.

So what should your takeaway be from the Apple-Proview case? Nothing more than that you need to be sure that the company with whom you sign a contract is the right company. I know this sounds basic, but this sort of thing happens more than you can imagine in international deals.  I personally have worked on at least two joint venture deals gone bad where the American company had signed an agreement involving the wrong party. In both cases, the American company thought it had a deal to be the distributer of the Joint Venture’s products outside China, but in fact, the agreement actually said that the American company would be the distributer for its Chinese joint venture partners’ products. And since the Chinese partner did make products that the American wanted to distribute….

For more on the Apple-Proview case, check out “Apple v. Proview. China Trademarks And So Much To Learn” and if you want still more, go over to China Hearsay, where Stan Abrams has written nearly a dozen posts on this case. And for you law-geeks out there, click here for a copy of the just-filed Amended Complaint (along with some interesting exhibits) in Proview’s U.S. litigation against Apple.

 

A reporter called me the other day on the Apple-Proview trademark kerfuffle. She kept wanting me to give her a quote on what foreign companies should take away from this dispute and I kept parrying with her, unable to give her just one. I kept finding myself saying “it’s probably more complicated than that.”

Let me back up a bit. As many of you no doubt know, Apple is in a massive trademark fight with a Shenzhen-based company called Proview. Near as I can tell, the facts are as follows:

  • Proview-Shenzhen registered the iPad trade-name before Apple had ever manufactured an iPad.
  • Proview-Taiwan (a Taiwanese company that is not the same company as Proview-Shenzhen) entered into an agreement with Apple (or, more accurately, a company acting on Apple’s behalf) to sell its Asian iPad trademarks to Apple.
  • Apple claims that agreement with Proview-Taiwan included the PRC iPad trademark, but Proview is claiming otherwise.
  • Apple sued Proview (I think Proview-Taiwan, but I am not sure) in Hong Kong and the Hong Kong court ruled that Apple is entitled to use the iPad trademark on the Mainland.

Here is where it gets so complicated and here is how I see it:

  • Proview-Shenzhen still shows up as the owner of the iPad trademark in China.
  • It is not clear if Proview-Shenzhen ever contracted with Apple to give Apple the China iPad trademark or any sort of license to use that trademark.
  • It appears that Proview-Taiwan did enter into some sort of trademark sale or licensing agreement with Apple (again, actually the company acting on Apple’s behalf), but since Proview-Taiwan did not own the PRC trademark for iPad, there are some real issues as to the validity of such a sale or license.
  • Did Proview-Taiwan have any interest in the PRC iPad trademark such that it could transfer or sell that interest to Apple?
  • Did Proview-Shenzhen ever agree to sell or license its iPad trademark to Apple?

What I find really difficult to believe is that Apple and/or Apple’s attorneys would have done a deal to acquire rights to the iPad trademark in China without having done real due diligence on that trademark. Basic due diligence would have revealed that the PRC iPad trademark was registered to Proview-Shenzhen and at that point, Apple would have required Proview-Shenzhen (not Proview-Taiwan) sign on to the contract to assign or license the PRC mark. So the first thing to be learned from this (maybe) is to do your due diligence and make sure that when you are buying something or securing a license to something that you are in fact doing so with the company that is actually authorized to sell or license that item.

This all came to the fore when Proview-Shenzhen started asking trademark officials in various Chinese cities to start pulling iPads from store shelves because those iPads infringe on Proview-Shenzhen’s trademark.  Some cities are pulling iPads from store shelves and this is obviously not good for Apple. [Full Disclosure: I have a disproportionate percentage of my retirement savings wrapped up in Apple stock]. Some cities seem to be refusing to do so, in what appear to be political, not legal, reasons.

Now Proview-Shenzhen is saying that is going to ask China customs to block exports of Apple’s iPads from China because they infringe on Proview-Shenzhen’s trademark. The media (and even Proview-Shenzhen itself) seem to believe this will not happen because it would look so bad for China politically. This is where the real lesson lies. If you are not Apple, I can pretty much assure you that all of your iPads would be off the shelves in China by now and they would also not still be leaving China via export. The real lesson then is on how to prevent this from happening to “your” trademark and that lesson is really quite simple. If you want to avoid your product getting pulled off shelves in China and/or prevented from leaving China, make sure that the trade-names and trademarks you put on your product (or on its packaging) are actually registered (or licensed) to you in China. And just to be clear, “in China,” for purposes of China’s trademark law, does not mean in Hong Kong or in Taiwan or in Macau or in the United States or in Australia or in any other country. If you want China trademark protection, you must register the trademark in China.

For more on China trademark law, check out the following:

Here are some articles for those who want to read more about the Apple-Proview fight:

Just don’t say we didn’t warn you.

UPDATE: Stan Abrams over at China Hearsay has two great (recent) posts on this dispute. The first post, “Apple vs. Proview: The Assignment Agreement!” contains Stan’s analysis of the Trademark Assignment Agreement between Apple (actually it’s stand-in entity) and Proview. Stan does a great job of analysing the Assignment Agreement, which really is by far the key issue involved in the case. I completely agree with all that Stan says about the Agreement and I add one thing to it. If you think you can properly assign a Chinese trademark without using an experienced attorney to draft the contracts and oversee the agreements you are wrong. And if you think that after reading Stan’s post, you are flat out crazy.

The second post, “What Have We Learned About China’s IP System? Answer: nothing,” posits that the issues in this matter involve a commercial dispute, not IP. I generally agree with this. The heart of the issue is how you secure ownership or rights to someone else’s trademark.

A few months ago I was talking with a Korean lawyer friend of mine about where Korean companies are locating in China. He talked of how Qingdao and Dalian were still really popular with his Korean clients, but that some of them were looking at Chengdu and a few other places “more inland.” They were looking to cut costs. I told him of how very few of our clients were seriously looking to inland China.

Boy was I wrong.

Within about a week of that conversation, we were hit with a flurry of companies looking to move out from places like Suzhou and Shenzhen and Dongguan to places like Yantai, Chengdu and Datong. Two of these companies have already begun the process. Note though that I intentionally used the ambiguous term “move out from” as opposed to “leave” because in none of the cases is the company going to shut down any operations. At least not yet. Their plans are to open ancillary facilities elsewhere, see how those go, and then, based on that, decide what to do with their existing facility or facilities.  

These companies are reluctant to shut down their existing operations entirely, in part out of a concern about how the local government at their existing locations will respond. Though the local government is not legally entitled to prevent these companies from leaving, it is “entitled” to make things difficult on them by making very sure that they are caught up on all of their obligations to the government (i.e. taxes, etc.) and to their employees.

So in both instances, rather than moving the WFOE (Wholly Foreign Owned Entity) from one place to another or shutting down the WFOE in one place and opening a new WFOE in another place (or even trying to open in the new place as a branch of the old WFOE), both companies have chosen to keep their old WFOEs and form new ones in their new locales. Both are of the view that if they reach a point where moving their operations fully to the new locale makes sense, they can at that time consider whether to close down their old WFOEs or merge the old and new into one WFOE.

What do you think?

If you are not reading the McKinsey Quarterly, you should be. It is an absolutely superb source of information regarding China and, in particular, China as market. It is consistently one of (if not the) best sources for free in-depth analysis of the China market.

One of its recent issues has an article, entitled, “Is your emerging-market strategy local enough?” [free registration may be required]  Its subtitle explains the article: The diversity and dynamism of China, india, and Brazil defy any one-size-fits-all approach. But by targeting city clusters within them, companies can seize growth opportunities. The article then goes on to analyze and discuss China’s “22 distinct urban clusters,” dividing them between “mega,” “large” and small. The following seven qualified as mega:

  1.  Beijing-Tianjin-Shijiazhuang
  2.  Qingdao-Jinan
  3.  Nanjing
  4.  Shanghai
  5.  Hangzhou
  6.  Guangzhou
  7.  Shenzhen

I like this approach. A lot. For more on it, you can also check out this Harvard Business Review article by the same authors, entitled, “A Better Approach to China’s Markets.”

What do you think?

Just got back from watching Mike Daisey’s one man play, “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs” at the Seattle Repertory Theater.  It was an absolutely amazing show and I highly recommend it. It was hilarious, thought provoking and, near as I can tell, unfailingly accurate.  I cannot recommend it highly enough; it is truly a must-see.

To grossly summarize the play, Steve Jobs is an “asshole-visionary” who has done amazing things at Apple, but in doing so, willfully ignores how Foxconn, which makes “all of our shit” grossly mistreats its workers, some of whom are as young as twelve. Daisey spent weeks in Shenzhen talking with factory workers and factory owners there to gather up material for the play and what he describes completely jibes with what I have seen there.  His recounting of meetings with factory owners in conference rooms with business cards and interminably boring Powerpoint presentations definitely was totally spot-on and had me laughing so hard I could barely stop. As Daisey so aptly puts it, Powerpoint is to communicate with other people in the same room as us.

During the show, I thought often of the book, The China Price, by Alexandra Harney, which I have previously discussed here and in this post on the ten best books on China business.  If you watch this play or read that book, you are forced to conclude that factory life in China is mostly brutal and that Western notions of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) have had very little impact on that. Daisey talked a lot about how the Western media is failing to report what is really happening there because as he put it, governments seek to block information getting out because that works.

At one point in the play, Daisey referred to a Wired Magazine article, written soon after the Foxconn suicides, as having been written by “useful idiots.” My problem with applying that term to Westerners who are always so quick to whitewash what is really going on in China is that few of them are idiots. Rather, they are calculating businesspeople who have chosen to come down on the money side of the equation.

What do you think?

UPDATE: A number of commenters have rushed to defend Foxconn with the argument that it treats its workers better than many/most other companies in China. My response to that is that I do not believe Daisey would necessarily say otherwise. I think he focuses on Foxconn simply because it is so big and because it is so representative of what goes on in China’s factories.

A reader sent me a link to a just out PC Magazine article on Foxconn, entitled, “Foxconn Factories: How Bad Is It?” Pretty bad, according to the article.

I realize it is easy to criticize Foxconn without providing any solutions, but that is not the point of this post. My only goal with this post is to put out there the way things are so as to make it more difficult for people who should and do know better to act as though things are otherwise.

UPDATE:  3-18-2012  Turns out Daisey “stretched” the truth.  For a great post explaining how he did this and the effect of what he did, I recommend China Hearsay’s, “Would-be Apple Killer Mike Daisey Goes Down in Flames.

A loyal reader emailed me a Fortune Magazine list this morning of “China’s 5 Best New Cities for Business” and asked me what I thought of it.  

If one ignores the fact that none of the five cities is new, it is a great list. The list was developed as follows:

Fortune China recently conducted its fifth annual Emerging Business Cities survey, hearing from 1,278 Chinese senior managers who ranked 50 selected cities based on the overall business environment, the cost of doing business, the local talent pool, and the quality of life. They think the following sites have the potential to become the next generation of mega-cities. 

The following five Chinese cities made the cut, in the following order:

  1. Suzhou
  2. Qingdao
  3. Shenzhen
  4. Ningbo
  5. Dalian

I was delighted to see Qingdao at number 2 because it is one of our favorite cities as co-blogger Steve Dickinson is based there and because so many of our food-related clients have set up their China operations there.  We are also big fans of Dalian and have done a considerable amount of work there related to the software/hardware and shipping industries.  Shenzhen and Suzhou should need no introduction because both cities have been manufacturing centers for a considerable time (particularly Shenzhen which was essentially China’s first foreign manufacturing center for foreigners). I have been to Ningbo but once and my firm has done but a very few deals there so I am not terribly familiar with it, though I usually hear nothing but great things about it.   

These are all excellent cities for business, no doubt, but none of them are exactly undiscovered or “new” and none of them are cheap either.

What do you think?

 

A recent San Diego Union Tribune article, entitled, Santee go-kart maker cuts costs with shop in China, but move still tricky, is a great example of how small manufacturers can thrive in China. The article’s theme is that China outsourcing is not just for big companies and its focus is on Electra Motorsports in Santee, California, and its owner, Kevin Heath.

Last year, Electra set up a machine shop in Shenzhen to manufacture electric go-karts. Electra now employs 20 people in Shenzhen and setting up there cut its operating costs in half. Heath’s original “dream was to have this great American workshop,” but, according to Heath, “by the time workers’ comp [compensation] and everything else is done with me, we could have a $3 million or $4 million business and still end up with nothing.” Electra’s cost for machinists to build the go-karts has gone from $50 to $60 an hour to $5 to $6 an hour. Of course, its shipping costs are far higher and obtaining the factory, business licenses, export permits and other approvals “was a very complicated and tedious job.”

The article goes on to note the recent surge in small and medium enterprises (SMEs) setting up operations in China and talks of how venture capital (VC) firms are telling their small start-up companies to have a global strategy. “They are saying, ‘We want to see now how you’re going to reduce costs and increase your efficiencies.'”

Smaller companies have historically been cut out of China because they lack the resources necessary “to keep up with changes in governments, laws, intellectual property and piracy,” but that “has changed in recent years.”

Electra’s Shenzhen machine shop is about 10,000 square feet right now, but Heath plans to add 18,000 square feet and offer his low-cost manufacturing services to other small businesses.  Electra has already started making foam surfboard blanks for a local (California) surfboard maker and conveyor belt equipment for a San Diego construction-equipment company. Sales last year amounted to $1.2 million, Heath said.

We too have been seeing increasing numbers of American and European small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) leveraging their China knowledge to make money off other American/European SMEs seeking to take advantage of China, but without their own capabilities to do so. China is very difficult for small companies inexperienced in the ways of China business and many of these companies can save money and reduce risk by dealing with the pioneers already doing business in China. Our own law firm does this to the extent that about a third of our China work comes to our China lawyers from American and European law firms that do not have their own China legal practice.

I would love to hear of other examples of companies who started doing business in China for strictly “internal” reasons, but ended up using their China knowledge to expand into manufacturing, outsourcing, or consulting for “outside” companies.

What are you seeing out there?

I usually avoid writing on the really big China issues, figuring they get enough coverage elsewhere.  I am veering from this now because there is still more to be said about the recent Shenzhen prostitute “shaming” incident.

When I first saw the pictures of the prostitutes with their heads bowed, I instantly thought of Bull Connor:

One of the most enduring images of the Civil Rights Movement is that of Birmingham firemen and policemen using water hoses and police dogs against African-American demonstrators in 1963 Birmingham. The episode came during the first week of May, following a month of peaceful demonstrations by Birmingham’s African-American community against their city’s segregation ordinances. Civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., who described Birmingham as “the most segregated city in America,” organized the demonstrations with the help of local civil rights leader Fred L. Shuttlesworth and others. “Bull” Connor tried to stop the growing demonstrations, and gained lasting infamy when he resorted to using the water hoses and dogs. Televised reports of police dogs lunging at African-American citizens and people being washed down the streets by water from powerful fire hoses dramatized the plight of African-Americans in segregated areas. The events in Birmingham helped mobilize the administration of President John Kennedy to begin efforts leading to the most far-reaching civil rights legislation in history, the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The name “Bull” Connor thus came to symbolize hard-line Southern racism. Ironically, Connor’s heavy-handed defense of segregation in 1963 Birmingham actually hastened the passage of America’s Civil Rights Act.

Those pictures of Bull Connor and his henchmen spurred America to live up to its laws and its ideals.

The Wall Street Journal talked of China’s views on the shaming incident:

The prostitutes’ parade through Shenzhen was unusual for another aspect: It has touched off a lively public debate. A Shanghai-based lawyer wrote an open letter to the National People’s Congress claiming the march was illegal. Bloggers weighed in in cyberspace. On a Sina.net online survey conducted a few days after the incident, more than 69% of those logged in disapproved of the public condemnation, compared to 25% who supported it.

The majority see the shaming incident for what it was: a feeble attempt by the government to exercise moral authority. The sex trade is one of the blots on modern China, but it will take more than public humiliation to curtail it.

The Pandagon Blog, in its post, entitled, “Panty Sniffing Moral Scolds,”[link no longer exists] had this to say about the incident:

You’d be hard-pressed to find a better image of prurience that motivates moral scolds. The police of Shenzhen are trying to conduct a vice crackdown, and this is their brilliant idea on how to handle prostitution — march suspected prostitutes and johns into the street and read their names out loud so everyone can get a sick thrill out of shaming them. Regardless of how you feel about prostitution, this is unacceptable. The problem associated with prostitution that should concern people is the way that most women involved are being mistreated and exploited, not the dirty but oh-so-tantalizing sexy sexness of it all. The little stunt is just an extension of the same mistreatment and abuse that prostitutes get on the job, only this time the dogpile of abuse has a stamp of social approval on it.

Feministing, in its post entitled, “Sex Workers Publicly Shamed in China,” [link no longer exists] noted the uproar the incident is causing:

This is pretty frigging horrifying. But thankfully, it didn’t go unnoticed–it sparked a furor led by Chinese bloggers.

…But the event has prompted an angry nationwide backlash, with many people making common cause with the prostitutes over the violation of their human rights and expressing outrage in one online forum after another.

Sentencing Law and Policy Blog, in its post, entitled, “A Chinese shaming stirs controversy and debate,” [link no longer exists] also noted the uproar:

Whatever one might think about the specifics of this punishment in China, it is notable that a public shaming sanction has prompted a national and international debate about Chinese crime and punishment.  I doubt that the Chinese (or NY Times) buzz would have been as great if all these defendants were simply locked up or fined.

China Rises, in its post, entitled, “Public Shaming’ in Shenzhen,” linked the Shenzhen shaming to “rule-of-law issues in China:”

It might seem a stretch to link this event with rule-of-law issues in China. But there is a link. The story didn’t just fade away. A variety of people are seeking legal redress, and Shenzhen is feeling the heat. The South China Morning Post reports this morning that some police who carried out the raid “may face disciplinary punishment” amid an outcry that the vice parade was a human rights violation.

The Washington Post, in its article, “Public Shaming of Prostitutes Misfires in China,” talked extensively on the public outcry:

But times have changed, the Futian Public Security Bureau discovered. Instead of being praised for cracking down on vice, the Futian police came under a hail of criticism for violating the right to privacy of those who were paraded about in public.

The swift outcry, in newspaper interviews and on the Internet, provided a dramatic illustration of the distance this vast country has traveled since the Cultural Revolution, when many people embraced such tactics and even those who opposed them were afraid to speak up for fear of retribution

This shows that the public has a stronger sense of human rights and privacy protection,” said Kang Xiaoguang, a sociologist with the Rural Development Institute at the People’s University of China.

“Twenty years ago, this kind of parade would have been greeted with unanimous applause,” he said. “But now it gets more criticism than support because more people realize their rights should be protected. And of course, they have more channels to voice their criticism, like the Internet.”

But nobody has seen fit to speculate on its long term impact, so I will.

Something like this has to have an impact, however small.  China’s government is obviously not a democracy, yet it still both wants and needs its people to view it as legitimate.  Its people generally viewed the Shenzhen shaming as illegitimate.  Because of this, the power to parade prostitutes has probably been taken from the government and that means new power lines have been drawn.  Whether this line will extend beyond just this one thing remains to be seen.  But this incident ought to at least give the Chinese government a little more pause before trampling on the rights of its people.

A morally vapid redneck racist helped advance civil rights in the United States and some dumb power-hungry bureaucrats in Shenzhen may very well end up doing the same thing for China.

What do you think?

China Daily (h/t to ChingDangVu Blog) just did a story on a comparison study of the quality of life in China’s cities.  Like so many of these studies that come out of China, both the methodology and the accuracy is murky, but it does make for fun reading so here goes:

1.   Shenzhen

2.   Qingdao

3.   Hangzhou

4.   Ningbo

5.   Shanghai

6.   Wuxi

7.   Yantai

8.   Suzhou

9.   Dongguan

10.  Dalian

The survey consisted of 287 cities and combined an objective ranking with a subjective online poll.  “The ranking was judged using a series of criteria, such as residential incomes, consumption levels and the traffic situation. Education, social security, medical facilities, public security, the environment, culture and leisure, and the unemployment rate were also included.”

Beijing fell from fourth last year to 14th this year and was deemed to have the worst traffic.  However, at 80.09 years, it topped the country in life expectancy.  Lu’an, in Anhui Province, is the worst place to live in China, according to the survey.

It is hard to know how accurate this sort of study is, but since I am often blogging about how much I like Qingdao and Yantai, (two cities in which my law firm has done a surprisingly large amount of work) it was good to see those two cities do so well in this study.  None of the cities in the top ten list were a major surprise to me, but I was a bit surprised Shenzhen came in first.

Twice in the last month I have done posts on how Tianjin is booming, but none of that can compare to this week’s announcement by China’s State Council that Tianjin’s Binhai New Area (BNA) has been “designated an experimental zone for comprehensive reforms and will be built into a third economic powerhouse after Shenzhen and Pudong of Shanghai.”

Those who are familiar with Shenzhen and Pudong can truly grasp what this is likely to mean, though the word is that relatively less government money will go to Tianjin than went to Shenzhen and Pudong.

Specific plans for Tianjin include the following:

The statement said that the area, covering 2,270 square kilometers, will become the gateway to North China, a modern manufacturing and research base and an international shipping and logistics center.

The new coastal area, dubbed “Pudong of North China”, will launch a series of reform initiatives including financial reforms, land administration methods, a bonded area and preferential tax policies.

Binhai will open more of its financial institutions to foreign investors and adopt pilot reforms in sectors related to financial services and the capital market.

It will also launch experimental schemes in the venture capital market, foreign exchange administration and offshore banking.

The high-tech enterprises in the area will get a 15 percent tax cut, while the central government also decides to earmark funds to aid the construction of the area.

Tianjin Dongjiang Bonded Area, covering an area of ten square kilometers, will be set up in the new area with focuses on international distribution, global procurement and export processing.

China clearly has ambitions to turn Tianjin into a financial (including venture capital) and high tech center.  I find it intriguing that the People’s Daily article quoted above refers to “a series of reform initiatives including … land administration methods.”  I am very curious as to what this will mean.  Private ownership of land?  Greater property rights for foreigners?

For more on Tianjin as China’s next boom town, check out “Tianjin, China — Second Tier City With A Bright Future” and “Tianjin, China — Flying High.”