December 2, 2013
Now that we’re sliding into the cold and flu season, a quick post on medicine seems entirely warranted. I’ll start off with a personal anecdote. The other morning, I woke up with a headache. The heat has been on for only a few weeks, so my rapidly-aging body is still adjusting to the suddenly desiccated environment. One result is that a morning headache is fairly normal this time of year.
As are nose bleeds. Dry air and all, you understand. My problem the other day was that the headache prompted me to pop a couple aspirin, a drug that is (I forgot) a blood thinner. When I got to the office and the nose bleed began, it was quickly apparent that the flood gates had been thrown open, along with strategically placed chocks to prevent them from accidentally closing. Metaphorically speaking, of course – I didn’t actually have any foreign objects up my nose until much later in the morning.
Becoming concerned, I finally ended up at a “health clinic,” something I almost never do. Turned out to be no problem, but the doc gave me some Traditional Chinese Medicine, which I ended up tossing in the nearest trash receptacle.
Yes, it’s going to be one of those posts.
November 29, 2013
You might have read headlines saying that Burberry had lost its trademark rights in China. Not quite. Yes, it is embroiled in a complicated, but familiar, trademark dispute with a competitor, but it’s a bit early to close the book on this one.
The backstory here is that Burberry has been fighting with a Taiwanese competitor for nearly a decade. These guys use a similar tartan pattern on their products (you can be the judge regarding the similarity) and have not been all that successful with this IP struggle thus far:
Until this month, Polo Santa Roberta had trouble convincing officials in other venues of the merits of its argument. The maker of handbags and clothing often sporting tartan lost a dispute with Burberry in 2010 in a Hong Kong court. The judgment concluded that Polo Santa Roberta’s designs “were not novel at the time of registration” and revoked them from the city’s designs registry. (WSJ)
Hmm. Sounds like these guys went and filed a design. Novelty is a patent issue, and has nothing to do with trademark, so I bet that they went the design route because Burberry had already filed its mark in HK. Sneaky devils.
November 27, 2013
Longtime followers of China Hearsay will not be surprised to see that the topic forcing me off the proverbial blogging sidelines is religion, the question being whether China should use the “beneficial” aspects of organized religion to promote social harmony. This of course made my head explode and drove me to the keyboard. To be honest, though, this post is also the product of some self-inflicted mental ass-kicking. I’ve tried to make myself feel guilty about the extended blogcation, but thus far, I seem to be shockingly remorseless in that regard. Perhaps this post will get me back in the action.
One quick administrative note. I’m also now back on Twitter after some long-term VPN trouble that nearly drove me to tears. I’ve bypassed all that by using Buffer, which is ostensibly just a Tweet scheduler but also allows one to post while not being in direct contact with the social media platform, which requires a reliable VPN. I’m trying to simplify my life. Note, however, that using Buffer like this means that I’m not really on Twitter, so if you reply to one of my Tweets, chances are that I will not see it, or at least not immediately.
So, the article that finally jumpstarted my intra-cranial jelly was in Reuters and was entitled “China aims to harness religious beliefs to promote harmony.” I started groaning immediately after reading the lede:
August 28, 2013
A lot of folks are talking about the spectacle of expat investigators Peter Humphrey and Yu Yinzeng, who have been caught up in the GSK bribery scandal:
On Tuesday, the couple appeared on China’s central broadcaster CNTV handcuffed and wearing orange prison vests, their faces blurred, admitting to “buying and selling” information in the course of various fraud investigations.
“The information that we had on individuals was sometimes obtained by illegal means,” said Humphrey, holding his handcuffed wrists before the camera. “I’m extremely repentant for this, and want to apologise to the Chinese government.” (Guardian)
Yikes. There but for the grace of God go I. Sort of.
I’m not going to spend time talking about Humphrey’s case, partially because it scares the crap out of me. I would like to point out, however, that I’ve dealt with several “investigation” companies over the years on behalf of clients. Every one of them who claimed that they could do things like perform background checks on individuals (including stuff like police records) were doing so illegally. To be blunt, private companies, and definitely foreign ones, simply can’t offer those services in China. ‘Nuff said.
On to GSK. The fireworks are over for the moment. Some folks are in jail pending adjudication, fines will be levied, and other pharma companies are scrambling around doing internal investigations, hoping that they get their shit together before they hear the knock on the door.
August 20, 2013
I’m sorry, but this is the big China scandal of the week, an accusation that a big investment bank hired family members of the rich and powerful? Seriously, is this some sort of journalistic practical joke from The Onion?
I report, you decide (if this is silly):
[T]he Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is looking at whether the bank’s Hong Kong office hired the children of powerful heads of state-owned companies in China with the express purpose of winning underwriting business and other contracts, a person familiar with the matter said. (Reuters)
Sorry for stating the obvious, but is there any investment bank out there (not to mention ginormous multinational) who doesn’t engage in such practices? Seriously, these companies literally ooze with the kids of the rich and powerful.
August 6, 2013
Until now I haven’t written anything on the corruption scandal rocking pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline, partially due to other commitments but also because I didn’t really see an interesting angle. Let’s face it, this is not the first corruption story to hit the China foreign investment community, and it will not be the last. Neither is this exactly breaking news for China’s healthcare sector, which is swimming in this sort of thing.
August 4, 2013
The post title, lame as it is, represents the sum total of all levity I can bring to this topic. This issue is about as dry and tasteless as . . . well, you can see where I’m going with this.
Let’s get the facts out here as quickly as possible, then I just have a couple general comments. The panel ruling in this case seems fairly cut and dried, and the US Trade Representative’s office came out with a useful press release that is straightforward, relatively free of spin, and quotable.
August 1, 2013
A strange funk seems to have descended on the English-language China Blogosphere, or at least those blogs that I usually follow (i.e., the ones focusing more on news, business, politics, economics and law). Maybe it’s something to do with the air quality here in Beijing, which is no doubt simultaneously making us lethargic, asthmatic, and less likely to blog — it’s quite possibly making us sterile as well, although I haven’t verified that one personally.
Some time ago, the stalwart Sinica podcast devoted an episode to “Death of the China Blog,” and I think things are even worse now. Speaking for myself, I had two two-week business trips, a very busy end of the 2nd quarter, and the complete failure of my laptop as impediments to regular blogging. No excuses, just an explanation.
July 1, 2013
If you’re an environmentalist and into renewable energy, you might want to sit out this discussion about IP theft allegedly perpetrated by China’s wind turbine behemoth Sinovel. This story hits on some familiar themes, including misappropriation of U.S. IP by a Chinese company, tough competition in the clean energy sector, and even our old friend cybersecurity. Well, the last topic is a bit of a stretch; there was no hacking going on here, just some old fashioned unauthorized downloading of software.
June 25, 2013
To be clear, it’s not so much the lawyers who are cheap, just legal fees, at least compared to the U.S. and EU. This is the topic of “Asia’s Low Legal Stakes,” a recent article in The Asian Lawyer. Now wait, I know what you’re thinking. During this busy time of the year (for me), I’m barely managing to bang out a post once a fortnight, and this is what I consider to be important news?
Perhaps not news, but I did find it thought-provoking. Although I have problems with some of the generalizations in the article, the discussion does tell us a lot about business in Asia and how different cross-border deals are over here.
June 14, 2013
The most recent blah blah blah about NSA whistleblower Eddie Snowden, now running about somewhere in Hong Kong (I’m guessing Lamma Island, with all the other hippies), is that he may defect to the PRC with all his ill-gotten intelligence booty. To which I question: with the Cold War decades behind us, what does it mean to “defect” anyway?
June 9, 2013
China will continue to create fair, justified and open conditions for foreign businesses, Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli said in Chengdu on Thursday.
Zhang made the remarks while meeting with attendees of the 2013 Fortune Global Forum, which opened on Thursday in Chengdu, capital of southwest China’s Sichuan province. (Xinhua)
You see one of these stories every month, with a Chinese leader making the same “Don’t worry, we like you” speeches to foreign investors. Seems to me that if you think this sort of PR is necessary, it means that there is an underlying problem that might need to be addressed.
Unless of course you believe that there is a vast conspiracy in the international community to bad-mouth the foreign investment environment in China through the spreading of vicious lies, in which case, never mind.
June 2, 2013
I missed quite a few good China stories during my trip to India, but this proposed takeover of Smithfield Foods by Chinese meat powerhouse Shuanghui (also trades under the oleaginous name Shineway) is probably the most important one in the cross-border biz world. This deal will be valued at $4.7 billion, making it #1 in terms of Chinese overseas direct investment in the U.S.
May 25, 2013
I’m not so sure about that, but here’s an update:
The U.S. Public Company Accounting Oversight Board announced a deal Friday with Chinese regulators to access documents held by Chinese auditors, defusing but not fully resolving serious disputes with China.
The Memorandum of Understanding with the China Securities Regulatory Commission and China’s Ministry of Finance will let U.S. and Chinese regulators request and get help from each other in obtaining documents for their investigations.
May 25, 2013
China’s relationship with India has been in the news over the past few days, mostly because of the visit of Premier Li Keqiang to Delhi. Coincidentally, I am also in Delhi at the moment (been here for a week, studiously avoiding this blog thus far). I’m here
negotiating the border dispute visiting some colleagues and negotiating a couple deals for my employer.
This is the point where I am supposed to point out all the differences between the two nations and explain why/why not the bilateral relationship is going in the right/wrong direction, as the case may be. If I throw in some amusing observations about how and to what extent Indian culture is different from China, all the better, particularly if I can refer to toilet habits and/or diet — even better, an eyebrow-raising story about a severe case of Delhi Belly (no, I have been lucky so far).
To be honest, though, my view of the country so far has been from behind either a car, plane or hotel window, and whatever I bloviate about would be useless crap. So I’m not going to bother. Well, one exception: yes, it has hovered around 46 degrees here this week, but it’s not as bad as it sounds since it’s rather arid here at the moment. In other words, it’s a dry heat.
Instead of empty travelogueing, I’ll try to catch up on my news and maybe even try to throw out a post or two this weekend about what’s going on at home. You know, something I actually know about.
May 14, 2013
You recall the fun and games when the Chinese media went after Apple as part of the Consumer Day “celebrations,” right? CCTV led the charge, followed by various Op/Eds and in-depth reporting on the U.S. MNC’s product warranty policy. Whether Apple was in violation of the law or not, it certainly was slammed upside the head with a great deal of negative PR, which made fanboys around the world cry “Leave ‘em alone already!”
When the perception is that Apple has been unfairly targeted, it means, among other things, that the next time someone criticizes Apple in China (by “someone,” I mean an official someone), it will look like a continuation of a witchhunt. To some degree, I think Apple, at least for a few more months, has a bit of a free pass when it comes to China attacks, at least in the eyes of folks offshore and probably local cultists.
May 7, 2013
No one is talking about murder yet, but it’s just a matter of time. The latest food quality scandal in China is humming along steadily at the moment, with accusations flying, arrests being made, and protestations being hastily issued by restauranteurs and others in the food biz.
All this turmoil just because mutton was replaced with rat and fox meat to save a few shekels? Apparently so. As of last month, we only had to worry about whether our lamb was being fried in “gutter oil,” but that’s now old news. These days, you need to worry about whether that “lamb” that’s being fried in gutter oil is in fact lamb or some other animal, perhaps one with whiskers and sharp, pointy teeth.
May 5, 2013
The annual Special 301 Report on worldwide intellectual property protection was recently released by the U.S. Trade Representative’s office. I always look forward to this, not only to see what the China section looks like to catch up on big-picture IP issues, but also to get a snapshot of the bilateral situation between the two countries.
This year, it seems to me that the language shows just a bit of frustration on behalf of the USTR authors, which I find leaking out from between the lines. They tried very hard to be as diplomatic as possible, but perhaps just a little too much. I’ll let you be the judge.
May 4, 2013
Um, wow, not sure where to start with this one. Look, I think you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who has consistently written for as long as I have that China’s IP situation is improving, that it isn’t as bad as most folks think, and that the stereotypes are generally unfair.
But I also temper that with frequent acknowledgements of the many problems over here with the IP protection system. The situation downright sucks in some geographical areas and industry sectors, and depending on the product and type of IPR in question. When apologists fail to fess up to the problems, they come out sounding pretty lame.
May 1, 2013
As someone who has been writing legal newsletters (or similar) for about 15 years, I speak with authority on this subject. I’ve also helped to train a boatload of lawyers with respect to drafting a variety of documents, both formal and informal.
The problem is that most lawyers are wholly unfamiliar with the concept of “audience.” Let me use the example of acronyms, since this will help me get to the point that much faster. Say you’re a private practice lawyer writing a brief email to your client, specifically an in-house lawyer who specializes in PRC corporate law. Would it be acceptable to use “MOFCOM” to indicate the Ministry of Commerce in that email? I would say yes.