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Jan 16, 2012

Looking for a China Business Expert? Get a China Old Hat

Dan Harris, of one of china law blogs, had a post on Chinese students in the United States that was commented on by Hidden Harmonies, a blog I follow.  The Hidden Harmonies blog notes that:
Dan Harris over at China Law Blog made a bold post today relaying complaints students at the University of Washington have for their fellow international students from Mainland China. He qualified that the complaints were directed at students from China and not of students with Chinese ethnicity. He also qualified the students whom he got the complaints were “sophisticated, intelligent, and well-traveled.”  . . .
Harris could have found a few Mainland Chinese students and get their take. Why doesn’t Harris have some Mainland Chinese students at University of Washington who he can readily talk to as he did others – after-all, his firm specializes in doing business in China.
You’d expect his firm smart enough to have Mainland Chinese students who understands Chinese law and studying international law (or something related) at University of Washington to intern for his firm. Without balance from the Mainland Chinese students perspective, the article panders to the nasty views in America towards ‘China.’ The complaints read a lot like the China bashing that exists in the mainstream American press; ignorant, some truths, and some lies.
I agree with Hidden Harmonies.  The post by Dan shows the problem with most "experts" on China.  Most experts are sitting in America and occasionally catches a flight to China.  To be fair, Dan does have one American lawyer living in China who speaks fluent Chinese.    However, without a presence in China and without living and breathing China, how can one understand the unique nature of doing business in China?  You must have an understanding of the Chinese from more than just books, blogs and a few visits each year.

This is not meant as anything negative to Dan.  Dan is wonderful at what he does and I have a great deal of respect for him because of what he built.  However, the problem reflected in the quote above is a problem common with those that take, primarily, an American viewpoint (because of, often, a lack of Chinese experience) to issues related to China.  This viewpoint, sometimes, leads to issues for clients of law firms.

I don't pretend to be an "expert" on Chinese Law.  However, my partner is a true China expert.  As you can see from the profile to the right, you can clearly see what my function is with regard to this blog.  I am the minion of a true expert on China Law - Frank Caruso.

I am not an expert, because I have been sitting in Korea for the last decade.  Like Dan, I don't speak Chinese (I have been with Dan and his Chinese is as good as mine -bad), don't spend much time in China (like me, I fly out from Korea a few times a year to China)  and have few interactions with Chinese other than the many "westernized" business flock.  I have met few Chinese law students and had few interactions with the Chinese (other than businessmen).

My partner (head of China Practice Team), however, speaks Mandarin, has Chinese staff, has lived in China for over a decade and even represents Chinese clients.  He has even been an adviser to the Chinese government.  He lives and breeds China and is, thus, a true China Law expert. 

Read Frank's posts and you will see the less textbook approach to issues and also more nuanced understanding of the Chinese and the unique way they do business.  Frank, as he likes to say, lives, works, loves and hates the "jungle."  His affectionate name for Shenzhen, China. 
IPG is engaged in projects for companies and entrepreneurs doing business in Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Korea, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, Vietnam and the U.S.