Home > Uncategorized > On Recent Criticisms of Mr. Shaun Rein, An Advice On Moving Forward

On Recent Criticisms of Mr. Shaun Rein, An Advice On Moving Forward

February 23rd, 2011

There have been more than several near “simul-blog” criticisms of Mr. Shaun Rein’s recent articles circulating over China blogs.

Critics of Mr. Rein came to applaud, Defenders of Mr. Rein returned some criticisms.

I sat on the sideline and read some of the back and forth.  My thoughts below concisely as possible.  Some of which agreed by others on both side of the discussion:

(1) Mr. Rein is overly positive about China.  (I would agree with that.  Optimism and hope are nice, but not in objective analysis.  Too many Western businesses went into China and failed because of too much optimism and not enough realism.)

(2) Too many, not all, critics of pro-China analysts like to use personal attack labels such as “apologist” or “sucking up to CCP”, or “Propagandist for the CCP”, or even “I don’t know why you pretend to be ignorant”.

When such labels are injected into discussion, they cease to be reasonable discussions.  And by self-evidence, such labels are thoughtless and end the discussion with an ad hominem.

(3) Too many Western internet commenters use such labels habitually as if a valid argument.  That frankly only build the perception, rightfully or wrongfully, that the general Western public is ignorant and irrational.

(4) Pro-China analysts, are rightful in being dismissive of such individuals, who are incapable of civilized debate of a serious topic without reaching for an ad hominem.

(5) But some Western analysts are fair in their own opinions, and do not wish to be lumped in the general category along with the others.


So my advice and policy forward, I say here and in the future:  I want to discuss issues with facts.  If you don’t like my facts, bring your facts.  But if you reach for an ad hominem label to dismiss my facts, you are deserving of being called an idiot.  (Am I using a label?  Yes, Only when forced to respond in the language best understood in the art of idiots).

AND when I use the term “Idiots,” I refer to those who cannot discuss facts rationally, not those who can.


I hope HH here will NOT tolerate ad hominem comments as normal discussion.  (But apparently, China Law Blog and PekingDuck.org do).

China Law blog criticized Mr. Rein as shutting down the discussion by being dismissive of his critics wholesale.

I think tolerating ad hominem comments as normal discussions is in fact shutting down and degenerating discussion.  That was 1 problem with FoolsMountain.

Why do I think so?

Because you can’t trace back to who started all the insults.  History of insults will go a long way back, and it’s unproductive and irrelevant.

Want to get along?  Just shut down the insults.


And all you idiots out there with the twitching ad hominem trigger finger, you are not going your “democracy” arguments any good.

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  1. February 24th, 2011 at 08:43 | #1

    You raise an important issue and one with which all bloggers must deal: How do we police our comments?

    We all draw the line in different places.

    Though I strive to avoid ad hominem attacks myself, I do generally let them go through in the comments, so long as they are not “too harsh” and “too personal.” I just don’t see it as my job to “soften” the world.

    We obviously disagree on this but I definitely respect your position.

  2. SilentChinese
    February 24th, 2011 at 09:02 | #2

    Ah, but that’s self-censor ship!

    down with the freedom muzzling tyrants.

    I demand the right to say fu-k you on the airwaves!


  3. February 24th, 2011 at 12:19 | #3

    Here is a copy of a comment I recently posted on China Law Blog’s Shaun thread. It’s a comment that was posted two days ago, but that seems to have gotten lost somewhere, so I took the time to recompose again (even though I really don’t have the time). Here is a copy for our purposes, in case it gets mysteriously lost there again.

    Dan, here is my re-post of a comment I posted 2 days ago in your bid to seek “clarification” regarding my comments about IP.

    I feel as if we might going around in circles, so let me re-trace our conversation, starting with your quoting Shaun:

    Listening to many of the other speakers, I was surprised at their anger and fear towards China. I had hoped that rhetoric would dissipate after the mid-term elections last year. Many attribute China’s boom as a result of stealing American jobs and intellectual property, rather than efficient economic policies and hard work ethic.

    First, I question whether “many” really do attribute China’s boom to “stealing American jobs and intellectual property,” as I have never heard anyone draw that sort of causation. I find it difficult to believe that any of the speakers at Mr. Rein’s event actually said that the reason for China’s boom is its “stealing American jobs and intellectual property.”

    I don’t have time to respond point to point to your (in my opinion false) accusations…

    But I’d like to briefly touch on the issue of IP, as I think it will loom large in the future (if it has not already) of the relationship between U.S. and China. The American side unfortunately almost exclusively see IP as a win-lose proposition. Every IP China gets from America for free is an asset and revenue stream lost. When China uses IP from others without paying, China is stealing ideas and jobs to build its own economy at others expense. It never ceases to amaze me how we as a society got to such zero-sum thinking on the use of ideas when the reason we even have IP (as a policy) is because ideas are non-rivalrous and non-exclusive to start with!

    A cursory search of Internet also give you these two reports.

    http://www.economicpopulist.org/content/if-you-cant-build-economy-steal-one (If You Can’t Build an Economy, Steal One)

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5006911 (U.S. Attache: Piracy in China Hurts Growth)

    There are many others. I don’t think Shaun’s quote about IP is that far off at all.


    I don’t think Mr. Rein’s quote about IP was far off either. I think those who say IP protection is getting better in China have a point and those who say it is not getting better also have a point. I actually tend to side with Mr. Rein on this as I think it is getting better. It has certainly improved in the last five years. But that is my point. My point is that it is a pretty close call so there is certainly no need to belittle those with whom we disagree.

    Here I thought we went off on a little tangent with you bringing up China’s “progress” on IP …

    My comments about IP is not about the “progress” China makes on IP. IP represents a set of policy tools with benefits as well as costs. In my view, it’s up to individual societies to set how those tools are used (or not used) as benefit the unique circumstances of each society. My comments are addressed to those “norms” – which are so casually bantered about here in the U.S. (what I read in NY Times, WSJ, etc.). I think Shaun’s observation about those are right on.

    Allen, if a country like China signs on to international IP treaties, as China has done, then it is not entirely up to them as to what IP laws they have and how they enforce them. Then you say “Shaun’s observations about those are right on,” but Mr. Rein never addressed those policy issues at all. He simply attacked those who claim China does a poor job protecting IP. I want to make clear that I do not disagree with all that Mr. Rein said; in fact, I agree with much of it. What I disagree with is his being so lose on his “factual” support and on his presenting all those who disagree with him as either idiots or Charlatans.

    Which brings to my last comment which has disappeared, the gist of which goes:

    I’m glad Dan we went off on a little tangent here, because it highlights one of the disconnects in perspectives between developing and developed worlds. While people in the developed worlds would like to formalize knowledge as a distributive (win-lose) IP trade issue, developing worlds would like to focus on knowledge as an empowering, transformative tool, going back to IP policy roots of treating IP not as a natural right, but as a tool to promote development.

    From the developed world, IP trade disputes is really a financial dispute in the same league as squabbles over price of steel, chicken, wheat, fertilizer, etc. From the developing world, it is a dispute about livelihoods, about access to knowledge (http://www.cptech.org/a2k/) and actuating a development agenda (http://www.wipo.int/ip-development/en/agenda/).

    OK I admit China is not really a developing country per se. It is probably unique in itself in its pace of development as well as its sincere desire to adopt IP to promote development. Still that does not mean the developed world’s use of “piracy” as the only means of characterizing any “free” use of ideas to be correct. As I alluded to in my first comment, knowledge and ideas are naturally non-rivalrous and non-exclusive, all the rules we make about knowledge is meant to promote development – and to the extent they do not, those rules should have little normative pull and should be changed.

    Rather than my going on more tangent, let me refocus on conversation to the very first point again, you taking issue with Shaun’s characterizing America perception of China stealing jobs and IP.

    As you know, we’ve just had an election cycle, where China has been trashed as stealing all sorts of things from America – jobs, IP, whatever. Many have written about it (see, e.g., http://www.zonaeuropa.com/20101010_1.htm, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/10/us/politics/10outsource.html, http://www.voanews.com/english/news/usa/US-Campaign-Attack-Ads-Take-Aim-at-China-105062199.html, http://ncp.pcaaca.org/presentation/highly-charged-political-rhetoric-trade-politics-scapegoating-china-during-2010-us-midt).

    Viewed against this background, if Shaun does not see much improvement, I think he has all the right to point out what he thinks as American misperceptions.

    You also took issue with Shaun’s use of the word “rhetoric,” but the truth is that mass media has already written about this “rhetoric” (http://www.reuters.com/article/2010/11/03/us-usa-elections-china-analysis-idUSTRE6A21K420101103) before Shaun.

    You are right on one thing though, when Shaun says, “Many attribute China’s boom as a result of stealing American jobs and intellectual property, rather than efficient economic policies and hard work ethic,” he probably does not mean “everyone,” as in Commerce Secretary Locke or Barton Biggs. As you already stated, Locke as is a pretty measured man.

    But again I don’t think Shaun did. It was you who mentioned them by name, attributing them to Shaun, when Shaun only used the word “many.”

    Maybe I am missing something here, but I feel that throughout you are making up presumptions, attributing them to Shaun, and then attacking Shuan as if they had been made by Shuan all along.

  4. China Barista
    February 25th, 2011 at 01:31 | #4

    Dan Harris has a history of getting at people who are China commentators. I think he organised a right old go at Chris Devonshire-Ellis a couple of years back – much of which was entirely distasteful. He also tends to use/rely upon the unsavory character FOARP to do much of his dirty work in twisted truth, making dubious statements and peddling gossip. Now its Shauns turn.
    The thing about Shaun (and CDE) is that both have legitimate businesses in China. Harris doesn’t, and his Law Firm, Harris & Moure, is not licensed to practice China law by the Chinese Ministry of Justice either. Which makes much of his blog misrepresentational.
    The blog community has to stick up I believe for those who are here, have committed, do pay their taxes in China and walk the walk. Dan Harris patently does not. So why do we listen to him?
    In my view, a bully with a serial bad attitude about going after some of our better China hands, whether you agree with them or not. There’s no courtesy from China Law Blog, and Harris, just spite and meaness. I find it, and him, increasingly distasteful.

  5. r v
    February 25th, 2011 at 05:53 | #5

    It’s not surprise that some blogs would do the “one eye open, one eye closed” for those who do the trash talking for them.

    Hence, it is important for this HH forum to not let that happen on either side.

    I do think that China Law Blog and PekingDuck show their slant openly when they let the anti-China trash talkers roam free on their forum. (And PekingDuck’s Richard even openly agrees with SKC and cheers him on when SKC uses ad hominem attacks!)

    I won’t go into the issue of who has more credentials or relevant experiences, we are all different.

    But in the end, Mr. Rein’s dismissive attitude to his critics are nowhere as insulting as the constant streams of personal insults tolerated on China Law Blog and PekingDuck.

    So, I do not see how China Law Blog can tolerate the personal insults in the comments, and then go after Mr. Rein for being unfair.

  6. r v
    February 25th, 2011 at 06:01 | #6

    I suppose Mr. Rein should just open a blog, and let some pro-China trash talkers roam free, and let them insult China Law Blog and PekingDuck.

    Mr. Rein can just then claim it’s not his job to “soften” the web.

    Seriously, that would seem to be the most equitable balance.

    Would that generate more rational discussions, or shut every thing down?

    And there are two kinds of ad hominem attacks, one with the direct insults, and the others who agrees with and cheers the insults.

    Neither make very good conversation.

  7. February 25th, 2011 at 08:10 | #7


    You are missing the point. I allow in both anti-China and pro-China comments. I get emails and comments from both sides regarding my allowing in views from the other side. I am fine with that.

  8. February 25th, 2011 at 08:29 | #8

    “I allow in both anti-China and pro-China comments.”

    It’s not the comments. It’s the extent of whether you allow pro-China commentors to make “personal insults” as much as you allow anti-China “personal insults”.

    Purely as hypothetical: Would you allow a commentor to come into your blog and call someone as being “paid by the US government” or perhaps “US government sponsored anti-China terrorist”?

    Just asking for clarification. I don’t imply anything. and it’s your forum policy.

  9. pug_ster
    February 25th, 2011 at 09:24 | #9

    Richard said himself that his blog site PKD is a hate site. Last June when he put on a post about the June incident, he allowed some a*hole to use personal insults against my family while censoring me when I tried to post something to defend myself. His website makes Chinasmack look tame.

    I’m going on the record here and defend Dan’s Chinalawblog site. He avoids those controversial topics like Huntsman/Jasmine Revolution and he tries not to take sides. I do find information in his blog site original and interesting to read.

    People like Chris Devonshire-Ellis and Shaun Rein are going a lightning bolt in some Chinese blogs because their opinions are not within the Western Mainstream. They post their opinions in Chinese blogs so their opinions deserved to be criticized, much like how some of us are criticizing Dan’s and Richard’s blog. However, people like Richard take to a whole new level, making personal attacks against them is totally Childish.

    Dan, although there is one advice I can give is that you should try to moderate the comments in your site. Some people are going to make nasty comments and you should tell people not to do that. Failure to do so makes you almost just as guilty.

  10. February 25th, 2011 at 10:25 | #10


    You have sent me a couple of emails with increasingly frustrated tone. I am not sure you have received any of my replies and just want to make sure you have received those emails (and that they are not somehow sent to spam). Don’t want a misunderstanding to fester because of technical difficulties…


  11. February 25th, 2011 at 14:53 | #11

    @China Barista

    I am beginning to see what you are saying. In this prior post, I even complimented the CLB as a stand-out amongst all the English language ‘China’ blogs.


    I agree whole-heartedly with Allen in #3 above.

    Also, it’s great that everyone is sharing their experiences about the various unsavory practices in the ‘China’ blogsphere.

  12. February 25th, 2011 at 16:02 | #12


    I have resent all the emails to the hotmail email address as you requested. My offer for a phone conversation to clear things up stands too if you think it’s necessary.


  13. Rachmaninov
    February 25th, 2011 at 20:28 | #13

    Dan Harris, and his increasingly vitriolic China Law Blog are conduits for an out of control ego who allows other people hiding behind pseudonyms to personally attack businesses and blogs that compete with Harris’s own. He’s not a China guy at all, and his pretense at being one is becoming tiresome and boorish. The man is divisive and irritating, and I feel he contributes very little to the China blogosphere apart from inane commentary and insults.

  14. Qingdao Ren
    February 26th, 2011 at 01:39 | #14

    Harris & Moure are not licensed to practice or advice on Chinese law, meaning Dan misrepresents himself as was pointed out. But I know what they do. I live in Qingdao, where it’s fairly common knowledge that Dan subcontracts his China work to the local law firm YouHua.

  15. February 26th, 2011 at 21:49 | #15

    @Rachmanino, Qingdao Ren,

    Appreciate your sharing these info.

    I find it extremely shocking CLB peddling Peking Duck and FOARP to attack Shaun Rein. Those two are career anti-China nut jobs. Dan Harris should know better. Oh well.

  16. Alex Lehman
    February 27th, 2011 at 07:40 | #16

    Dan Harris and Steve Dickinson are my friends.

    China Law Blog is written by Steve Dickinson too. Steve Dickinson has been living and working in China for longer than just about any foreign lawyer. Something like 20 years ago he was teaching law at Beijing University. Dan runs nearly all of his writings by Steve before they go live. Everyone reads CLB and that’s because it is great and also because it gets so many different viewpoints in its comments.

    There are no American lawyers licensed to practice Chinese law in China so making it sound as though Harris & Moure is being deceptive is pretty off the mark, unless you say the same about all foreign firms in China.

    It is also unfair for people to slam CLB as though it is responsible for what others like FOARP and Peking Duck say. I like how CLB is so open to comments and you are the same way and I think that is good. I think you disagree with this comment but I compliment you for publishing it anyway. But the more you attack bloggers like Peking Duck and FOARP who are anti-China, the more you are driving away any readers who are not coming here pro-China already.

    Dan and Steve are two of the nicest, most generous people your could ever hope to meet and they are constantly trying to advance other blogs by linking, complimenting and giving publicity to other blogs.

    I searched CLB for “Chris Devonshire Ellis” and [… deleted by Allen for furthering personal attacks initiated in other forums to this forum]

    I know I am going a bit overboard here but I think it important that readers of this blog know these things. There are two sides to every story and I appreciate you letting me tell the other one.

  17. February 27th, 2011 at 19:23 | #17

    @Alex Lehman #16,

    I personally know over ten lawyers who are American citizens, educated in the States, and licensed to practice law in China. Maybe 20 years ago you might be right, but not as of 2011.

    As for slamming CLB for referencing junk as excellent commentary, of course CLB can be slammed for making poor judgement (although I don’t think we have slammed CLB for that yet – it’s really not in our interest to be petty).

    As for Chris – I prefer not to allow personal attacks on people who are not here to defend themselves; hence I have deleted part of your comment. I have no interest in allowing this blog to be a vehicle for furthering potentially libelous personal smearing.

    With respect to Dan and Steve being two of the nicest, most generous people, I hope so, too. The world can never have too many nice, generous people.

  18. February 28th, 2011 at 00:23 | #18

    Steve is licensed in china. He is licensed as a foreign law consultant. Foreigners cannot sit for the china bar but they can be foreign law consultants and that is what Steve is. I have never heard of that firm in Qingdao that supposedly does all of our work and we have never used them for anything. Lime all foreign firms, we do retain Chinese law firms to handle those matters that require a Chinese national licensed lawyer, but we have never worked with that firm that someone claims does all our work.

    Thanks Alex for your overly kind comments.

  19. February 28th, 2011 at 01:18 | #19

    @Dan #18,

    Thanks for correcting my mistake in #17. I just chatted with two of my friends in China and confirmed both are licensed to practice in California as well as as China but are not U.S. citizens. So I take back my statement that I know lawyers who are American citizens, educated in the States and licensed to practice in China.

    My mistake arose because reading my friends’ bio on their law firms, they had described themselves as “American lawyers practicing in China” – and in the alum directory from my school, there is a section “American lawyers practicing in China.” In both cases, I had taken “American” to mean “U.S. citizen.”

    However I stand by my comment that Alex is wrong in #16 to say that “There are no American lawyers licensed to practice Chinese law in China” – as my friends are really American lawyers licensed to practice in China – unless of course by “American” Alex means as I incorrectly did “American citizens” as opposed to lawyers belonging to an American Bar.

  20. Bai Yan
    February 28th, 2011 at 05:29 | #20

    Questions for Dan: does Harris & Moure – aka China Law Blog – have a license to practice in China? Are they recognized as a firm Licensed to practice Chinese law by the Chinese Ministry of Justice? Do they pay tax in China? Do they have their own registered office in China?
    There’s plenty of US law firms in China registered with licensed by the MOJ. But if Harris & Moure are not – then whose office in China is Steve working from?
    Because if you are not registered as a firm in China I am afraid that is illegal and you are taking money away from properly registered Chinese practices who have invested in their indemnity and who are licensed. Where is the Harris & Moure registered office in China please we can visit to see you?
    It’s reasonable question.
    I think these questions are reasonable given the circumstances.
    Thank you.

  21. China Barista
    February 28th, 2011 at 07:20 | #21

    Great questions by Bai Yan.
    Here’s why:
    1) Foreign (and Chinese) businesses in China have to provide registered capital to operate, this becomes their limited liability status. Certain firms in professional services have to provide additional capital in order to obtain licences, especially those dealing with finance (law and accounting practices for example).
    2) There are in fact many foreign law firms in China – and they should ALL be registered as a legal requirement with the Ministry of Justice. Baker & MacKenzie, Deacons, Coudert Bros, Freshfields, Clifford Chance – international firms all, plus many, many other foreign law firms – are all registered with the MOJ. Also, if you check any of these law firms websites, their China offices, addresses and phone numbers are all provided. Harris & Moure do not seem to appear on any China MOF registration – but perhaps Dan can enlighten us as to why?
    3) I took the opportunity (before anyone snipes at them, and I suggest this is more about Harris & Moure than the actual legal status of Rein or DE) at looking both at Shaun Reins firm and CDE’s firm. You can find them here: Shaun: http://www.cmrconsulting.com.cn; Chris: http://www.dezshira.com
    Both sites list full China addresses and phone numbers (in Shauns’ case in Shanghai, in CDE’s case, ten seperate locations). My GUESS is they’re both capitalised and registered with licenses in each of their offices. And if anyone wants to check, their office addresses and phone numbers are available, so you can pop around and visit to go have a look or ask to see them. Thats reasonable. Does the business name (they have to provide their foreign name in English) on the license match with what you see? It’s simple to check – they must hang them on their office wall at reception in each office.
    4) I looked at Harris & Moures website here: http://www.harrismoure.com – this is the firm that publishes and provides advice and opinion through China Law Blog. There’s no China office listed, just one in Seattle. That’s strange for a firm representing itself as a China professional services firm. This is where Bai Yang’s observations become important, because it possibly means:
    a) IF Harris & Moure have no China presence, but have advised US or other international clients on matters of China law, those clients will find they have no insurance cover if that advice turns bad. The onus is on businesses to hire appropriately qualified and licensed legal counsel, not their insurers.
    b) IF Harris & Moure are not registered with the Chinese Ministry of Justice, it means they are not regulated by the Chinese legal authorities. This has three main implications:
    i) The Chinese authorities themselves do not recognise Harris & Moure as legitimate providers of Chinese legal (or any other) advice;
    ii) There is no recourse for clients given bad or incorrect advice to complain to the responsible (Chinese) regulatory body (ie: the MOJ);
    iii) There is no registered capital, insurance bonds or other assets held in China by Harris & Moure to indemnify them against any client claims.
    5) Dan mentions Steve is a “Foreign Law Consultant” in China. But he must be working from an office. It is illegal to work from your home, you MUST register with and abide by the Chinese indemnity and registered capital laws, and you cannot obtain that from a residential address. If Steve or Harris & Moure are working from an office in China – then where is it? In fact, more to the point – WHOSE is it? WHOSE license is on that office wall? Is there one?
    6) Bai Yang is right to ask. This information should be in the public domain anyway. So these are valid questions for Dan Harris:
    i) Where is Harris & Moure’s China office?
    ii) What is their registered office address in China?
    iii) What is their China license number?

    I’m sure it would be interesting to know, and I’m sure some readers would like to take the opportunity to visit the font of great China wisdom and China Law “published” (their website says that) opinion from China Law Blog’s authors – in China. And see the credentials.

    You can do that it appears with Shaun Rein and CDE. Which is why I find it both fascinating that Dan Harris and China Law Blog and their cronies (FOARP, “Alex” Lehman et al) find it such a blast to denigrate those individuals. Attack is the best form of defense, after all. But – Shaun and CDE seem to hold up to scrutiny, and publish their offices and full contacts online. I’d be very surprised if they were not licensed – both have been in China so long if not you’d have thought the authorities would have caught them by now. But – check their offices.

    But where is Dan Harris’s, Harris & Moure’s, and China Law Blogs authority, registration licence, China registered capital, China legal and insurance indemnity; and registered office in China to back that up? Where is any of that on their corporate firms website? Its nowhere to be found. An oversight? Or something more devious?

    I think THAT is now the key question in this ongoing debate.

    Perhaps Dan Harris would like to answer these questions, WITHOUT diverting the topic to other people or their businesses and what they might or might not have said or done. This is your stage Dan, you made it, you now live in the spotlight. Some answers from you please. As was quoted: “It’s not unreasonable”.

    So where’s your China office and China law license? Rather a lot of us would now like to know, please.

  22. February 28th, 2011 at 07:25 | #22

    I would warn against commentors from using personal insults such as “cronies”.

    Please confine your comments to factual discussions, and avoid subjective and insulting labels against people.

  23. China Barista
    February 28th, 2011 at 08:07 | #23

    Huh? “crony” (pl: cronies) actually means “long time friend” – there’s no insult.
    See: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/crony

    Dan’s answers please, instead of this perpetual evasion or distraction.

  24. February 28th, 2011 at 08:24 | #24

    As long as you clarified your comments as not insulting.

  25. China Barista
    February 28th, 2011 at 09:14 | #25

    Not me dude, the entire dictionary definition. “Crony” or “Cronies” is not an insulting term. Now, about Mr. Harris’s credibility when it comes to China? He has a pop at Shaun and others from his ivory tower in Seattle – but does he REALLY have any licensing cred or money invested in China? China Law Blog and by proxy Harris & Moure are quick to throw rocks at other peoples greenhouses – but will his own withstand it?

  26. February 28th, 2011 at 09:21 | #26

    Several buddies of mine work in multinational law firms practicing in China. My understanding is that people who work in such firms do not need to be licensed to practice in China, as they mostly advice on international aspects of business deals – which are mostly done under American or well established international law. There are tons of American attorneys working in China in such capacity. To open an office in China though, you have have a partner who is a lawyer licensed to practice in China – and there are rules you must meet (not sure exactly what) in addition to finding a Chinese lawyer.

    With that said, I want to say that one can definitely bring value to the table being an American lawyer focused on issues relating to China without having license to practice in China. Law can be so specialized. Merely having a consultant who can bridge the gap in expectations of an American business wanting to do business with China with realities of Chinese law can be of tremendous value.

    @China Barista and Bai Yan and others, let’s keep the focus of this thread on Dan’s criticism of Shaun. This is not a thread on Dan’s law firm or practice. If we have questions about his law firm and his practice, I am sure we can address his firm privately and directly, and he will provide satisfactory answers to any of the questions we might have. As for FOARP, you probably know in what regard I hold him. But let’s not label him but challenge him substantively when he does venture here now and then. As for Alex, I haven’t noticed anything he has said to be offensive. If he takes time to articulate his perspectives here, I think we ought to welcome him.

    In my understanding, Dan has a legitimate China Practice and is well regarded among many in the business. While I am dismayed with his recent post, as an attorney who has staked his career building a China Practice, he serves an invaluable bridge connecting the American with the Chinese people. He is a person people who care about China should engage with, not distance from, no matter how misguided we might think some of his opinions might be.

  27. February 28th, 2011 at 10:35 | #27

    I agree with Allen. I also think that questioning someone’s credentials is too personal, in that it generates no substantive discussions, and tend to boil down to rather pointless debates about who knows China more.

    Dan may know something that we don’t. I may know something he doesn’t. The point is to talk about what we each know, or what we think we know.

    On that note, however, I noticed that Dan’s practice tend to center around advising American clients on doing business in China.

    At least on that aspect, Dan’s perspective may be more focused on the American perspective, looking TOWARD China, and less about the Chinese perspective.

    Not to say that the American perspective toward China isn’t important, it is a point of view among many points of view.

    I have yet to meet many US lawyers advising Chinese companies doing business in US. (I talked to a Huawei US attorney recently about the Huawei problems in US, perhaps I will write about that later).

    I think there needs to be the exchange of points of views in this respect.

  28. China Barista
    February 28th, 2011 at 19:28 | #28

    @Allen, your statement: “In my understanding, Dan has a legitimate China Practice and is well regarded among many in the business. While I am dismayed with his recent post, as an attorney who has staked his career building a China Practice.”

    Thats my point. You can’t build a China practice without the required China licenses or an office in-country. He may have built a US practice with an office in Seattle, but a China practice – I don’t think so. Which why I’d like some clarification on the legalities and his actual position. He seems rather quiet on the subject, and if all is above board, why should that be? Let’s give him the chance to tell the truth about his “China practice.”

  29. February 28th, 2011 at 21:52 | #29

    @China Barista #28,

    I can see how you can see Dan’s advertising his “China Practice” as somewhat deceptive as he really is still an outsider looking in. But the fact is that so many of my other colleagues also call their practice “China Practice” doing similar things. The China Practice is definitely a term made for American clients, not Chinese clients. But as far as Americans are concerned, it’s a legit name for the practice.

  30. Bai Yan
    March 1st, 2011 at 03:15 | #30

    I think it’s deceptive and that Dan uses the analogy to promote his practice and expertise both he and it are not. The point raised about client indemnity and insurance claims is valid if his clients view that they too have been oversold. Dans silence on the matter speaks for itself.

  31. pug_ster
    March 1st, 2011 at 08:23 | #31

    China Barista, Bai Yan – I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Dan not being licensed to practice law in China. Many law firms outsource their work to another law firm if the client their law firm does not have a strong presence in that place. This happens all the time here in the US. Most of the major law firms probably have associates or partners who has a bar in New York, DC, California, Illinois, but not much else. So if the client needs a legal counsel in another state say Maryland, these large law firms probably work with a smaller firm that has a major presence in that State.

    I would assume that Dan is doing the same, work with clients here in the US and contracted out the expertise to a Chinese law firm who has a major presence in that province.

  32. March 1st, 2011 at 11:58 | #32

    @pug_ster #31,

    Does China actually have provincial laws or just national laws? I suppose they must have provincial laws, but I wonder if the laws are so substantial as to require different bars across provinces as here we have across states in the U.S.

  33. March 1st, 2011 at 13:49 | #33

    China has both local laws and national laws, but there is only 1 court system, not the dual track court system in US.

    I don’t think there is any difference per se between the local laws and the national laws. They occupy different subject areas, and local laws cannot supersede national laws.

    Generally, local laws require some review at the national level before they can be enacted. (sometimes there are instances of bypassing the proper procedure, or overlooked conflicts).

    If there are local laws that conflict with the national laws, the lower level courts do not have the “judicial review” power as in US, rather they must refer a “judicial question” to the higher level courts, (while rendering a judgment using the most relevant local laws), until the highest court level review panel can make an “interpretation” on the conflict, and the opinion is the promulgated down to the local courts.

    (Mind you, the “opinion” from the high court does not reverse any decisions that were already rendered at the lower level. Such opinions cannot be used retroactively. But rather the opinions are used to guide future decisions in the lower courts).

    There was a rather famous case of a local Chinese judge who tried to use “judicial interpretation” to render a judgment contrary to the relevant local laws, essentially ruling that the local laws are unconstitutional.

    She was suspended for a while, and barely allowed to return as a judge.

    (The Chinese legal system is very similar to the French and the German system, from which it is modeled).

  34. pug_ster
    March 1st, 2011 at 14:36 | #34


    I don’t know much about the Chinese court system and I assume that Raventhorn is correct. FYI, I’m not a lawyer, but used to work for a large multinational Law Firm for a couple of years.

    For my own personal business, I do require services from a lawyer from time to time and I don’t go to a law firm because they simply cost too much. I work with this “Consultant” who has extensive knowledge of the business that I deal with but not a lawyer. She simply contracts out a lawyer when I need service from them…

    The law firms mentioned above simply charges too much because they usually deal with large S&P 500 companies and/or large multinational companies.

  35. March 2nd, 2011 at 05:40 | #35

    I think we are seeing a drop off on China Law Blog comments as result of the recent (lengthy) open air criticism article about Shaun Rein, especially for the vitriolic insulting comments that flooded both CLB and PekingDuck.

    I believe it is very apparent that allowing such insults into comments is counterproductive. Rational commentors have no wish to be drawn into flaming wars. And Since CLB and PekingDuck tolerate and do not moderate insults, rational commentors don’t want to make comments.

    I think HH’s policy is a good balance.

  36. China Barista
    March 2nd, 2011 at 08:22 | #36

    I think the issue with China Law Blog and Dan Harris is that there’s no admission from them that they’re not actually licensed in China. Having Steve as a “foreign consultant” in Qingdao or Shanghai or wherever, is no substitute for them not having invested in any China practising license. Neither Dan or Steve, or China Law Blog, or their firm Harris & Moure are licensed to practice Chinese law or give opinions about it. However their blog entries and those of their friends strongly implicate they are.

    That’s misrepresentation.

    The reason thats relevant is because they attack people like Shaun, who is licensed to practice (in his case, market research) in China. He has licensing, financial and commitment credibility. Attacking guys like that when your own China status is shonky is rather beyond the pale.

    On a related note on dodgy lawyers, did anyone spot this news about Lehman Li & Xu, the foreign invested law firm in China owned by Ed Lehman (a contributor to CLB I may add). Busted in LA for fraud and misrepresentation, and currently being sued by US clients. The press release is here:

  37. March 2nd, 2011 at 08:25 | #37


    I considered applying for a job at Lehman Li & Xu.


  38. Mark McDonald
    March 2nd, 2011 at 20:33 | #38

    I left a comment on China Law Blog concerning this matter. However, when my comment was approved I found it had been deliberately edited to reflect the views of Dan Harris’s position, and was not in fact my original text which stated an opposite view. China Law Blog is altering reader comments to suit its own agenda rather than publish what readers are actually saying.

  39. Alex Lehman
    March 2nd, 2011 at 23:13 | #39

    [Deleted by Allen]

    Alex, don’t be a jerk. I welcome people to articulate intelligent perspectives, not to do more smears and make innuendos about others – and not to link to irrelevant junk on the Internet. If you want to be an asshole, do it in the privacy of your home, not this site. Let this be a warning. You are not welcome if you want to be petty and an imbecile.

    Further, since you left a non-working email address, please regard the following as a personal email addressed to you:


    Don’t be an ass. If you want to write intelligent things, you are welcome. If you want be libelous and talk about what FOARPS is interested in, you can do it on his website.


  40. March 3rd, 2011 at 01:14 | #40

    Chris Devonshire-Ellis recently weighed in with an Op-Ed commentary, “What Constitutes a “China Practice”?,” indirectly criticizing the China Law blog on misrepresenting itself.

  41. March 3rd, 2011 at 01:38 | #41


    Thanks for pointing this out.

    Alex’s tremendous interest in Chris and tireless efforts to continue to link FOARSP’s junks has gotten me interested in reading what Chris has to write. In many ways I do agree with what he writes. Foremost I do believe that many people outside China write about China from a very biased view. I also believe that many of the blogs about China spew pure hate.

    I’m sure there is also something personal between Alex, Dan, and FOARSP on one side and Chris on the other, but I frankly don’t care. Although for now, I think some of the ideas – though not necessarily the conclusion – raised by Chris are legit.

  42. Alex Lehman
    March 3rd, 2011 at 05:15 | #42

    Thanks for deleting all of my comments. You allow people to come on here and make things up about Ed Lehman (no relation to me) and Dan Harris (also no relation to me) but I apparently am not allowed to defend them. I was curious what Mark McDonald was talking about so I went and looked at the comment he left on the CLB Shaun Rein article and here it is:

    Mark McDonald – February 26, 2011 8:56 PM http://www.chinalawblog.com/2011/02/chinacurrency.html#26099

    “Shaun Rein is based in China, lives there and runs a China market research practice there. He writes on what he sees and thinks. It may not be mainstream, but he is breathing the subject. Shaun Rein is criticizing Americans who live in the United States and have little or no China experience. When it comes to China, who do you think knows the subject more intimately?”

    I do not see how this “reflects the views of Dan Harris’s position.” Mark, would you please tell us more.

  43. Alex Lehman
    March 3rd, 2011 at 05:32 | #43

    For more on what it takes to run a real China practice go here:


  44. Bai Yan
    March 3rd, 2011 at 05:38 | #44

    I don’t think the Ed Lehman think is made up. If you follow the link it quotes the case numbers.

  45. China Barista
    March 3rd, 2011 at 09:47 | #45

    Its interesting this two sides. I see angry and violence and nasty things from China Law Blog supporters, but rational calm debate from Chris and Shauns supporters, no nastiness even if provoked. Like the difference between stupid and educated and thugs and gentlemen.

  46. colin
    March 3rd, 2011 at 10:41 | #46


    Completely agree that the Pekingduck is completely biased on China, and that it is a hate site. Typical western hypocritical and condescending viewpoint, being passed off as a china expert. He definitely has an axe to grind. I quit following the blog after one incident in which he reviewed a book about the cultural revolution. It was about the horrors of the cultural revolution, typical china demonizing stuff, but the problem was that it was fiction. My comment that the book was fiction, and the whole point was to sell by demonizing china, was quickly deleted.

    I’ve said this before. It’s extremely ironic that he goes around chiding the tyrannical nature of the chinese government, when he himself is a tyrant on his blog. His mind is made up on china. The ccp is evil, and it must fall. Give the people democracy, and they’ll have their utopia. Of course they have no solution or explanation for how the former will actually lead to the latter.

  47. Peace-Out
    March 3rd, 2011 at 15:25 | #47

    This whole thing is so funny. On the one side we have Chris Devonshire Ellis (a/k/a China Barista) and on the other side we have, wait, there isn’t anyone on the other side. Poor Chris. Seems he has been missing doses of his lithium and drinking to excess again.

  48. China Barista
    March 3rd, 2011 at 16:14 | #48

    @Peace-Out: I wish!

  49. Bai Yan
    March 3rd, 2011 at 19:23 | #49

    I still don’t understand Alex Lehman or CLB hate at CDE either. He’s not even in China, he’s in Mongolia. See here today (actually quite of interest): http://www.2point6billion.com/news/2011/03/04/mongolias-wolf-economy-comes-in-from-the-cold-8749.html

  50. The Last Blog
    March 3rd, 2011 at 21:46 | #50

    I think what we can say is that if for some reason Dan Harris decides he doesn’t like or agree with you, he’ll slag you off on his China Law Blog, and his followers will make life miserable for you on other peoples blogs as well. That’s exactly what all this looks like.

  51. March 3rd, 2011 at 23:21 | #51

    Even though this is not exactly my thread, I’m going to start deleting comments that perpetuate this uninteresting virtual war of words between CLB and CDE. If you have things to add about Shaun’s article or Dan’s take, please by all means comment. Otherwise, please spare our server some load – more importantly, my eyes from reading more junk.

  52. March 3rd, 2011 at 23:42 | #52

    Allen – how about we close off comments for this post. It’s time people move on.

Comments are closed.