I constantly get emails asking me (often in an accusatory or conspiratorial tone) why the China Law Blog didn’t write about such and such. As tensions with China increase, the number of these emails have also increased and I am going to respond to a random bunch of them here so I can simply link back to this post when I get such emails next.
Here goes, with the typical question in bold font and our typical answers in regular font:
1. Why do you never write anything bad about China? Is it because you are concerned it will hurt your business?
What are you even talking about? Would it surprise you to learn that we often get emails asking me why I never have anything nice to say about China? Anyway, in answer to your question, we never think about whether a post is China-positive or China-negative, We simply write it and let the chips fall where they may. In fact, we have been accused of being negative when we write what we thought was a positive piece, and being Pollyannaish China pandas when we write what we considered a negative piece. In other words, the spin is often in the eyes of the beholder. I will say that my views of China are that I love the place (but not its government) and it is central to our firm’s business and because of that, I may be too critical of it sometimes and not critical enough of it other times, but I am trying.
2. Why do you hate China? Why do you only have bad things to say about China? Is it because you know the United States is falling and China is rising?
See above. You greatly overestimate us if you think that we think so deeply as to be influenced in our day to day behaviors by something so abstract as countries rising and falling. If you want to psychoanalyze our writing, you would probably be better off using what we had for lunch that day as opposed to geopolitical positioning.
3. Why didn’t you write about this or that murderous/horrible incident that happened in China today? Why do you never examine China’s moral rot?
I get these emails whenever there is a mass killing in China and I got a ton of these when there were the kindergarten poisonings in Hebei. There are many reasons we don’t cover stories like these, starting with the fact that we really don’t have anything to say about them beyond the trite and obvious. We are not philosophers. We are not journalists. We are not ethicists. We are not sociologists. If I were to write about something like child poisonings (which, sadly, happen pretty much everywhere in the world), about all I would say is that I have two kids of my own and so I can imagine how awful the parents of the two kindergartners killed must feel and as a parent, I feel for them. Since hundreds of millions of people almost certainly feel the same way, my writing that wouldn’t contribute a thing.
4. Why do you always criticize China and never criticize the United States?
Because this is a blog about China, not about the United States. If you want a forum for criticizing the United States, start your own blog and go ahead and call it USLawBlog.com.
5. Why don’t you ever link to my blog?
We have one criteria for what we write about and to what we link and that is what we think would best serve our readers. Yes, I know we are sometimes wrong on that, but we do the best we can and that’s all we can do. So if we don’t link to your blog it is because we were not aware of it or we did not think it would best serve our readers.
6. Why do you never link over to any foreign blogs/foreign sites? Why don’t you do anything to counter the Western bias of your blog?
Two reasons. One, I admit a strong preference for good writing, and, let’s face it, native English speakers generally write in English better than non-native speakers. Two, this blog does have its own viewpoints on China and on everything else and that viewpoint is a Western one. Having said this, however, we are always seeking pieces from contributors from outside our law firm and one of the reasons we seek those people is to bring divergent views to our site. Admittedly, however, we are more focused on getting the views of someone who really knows China retail (just by way of one example) than someone who really knows how to examine China’s social structure from a non-western perspective. And that is simply because of how we see our mission and our audience.
7. Why do you always do posts linking to stories/posts/articles written by your friends? If I see another post about _______, can I shoot you?
I plead guilty to this one and I can’t help it. I have biases like everyone else. Also, my friends often bring their stories/posts/articles to my attention so some of this is just a top of mind thing. And no, you can’t shoot me; isn’t sending me a harsh email enough?
8. Why do you write about things other than China law? Why do you write only about China law?
Our focus is and will always be on China law issues as they relate to foreign companies doing business in China. We sometimes stray from that either because we feel like it or because we think the issue has bearing on doing business in China or with China.
9. Why do you always end your posts by asking “What do you think?” Don’t you think that is a little bit stupid because everyone knows they can leave a comment without your asking that question?
First off, we don’t always do that. But we often do that because we want to emphasize how important we find it for there to be discussion. We do that because we want everyone to know that no matter how confident we may seem in whatever points we make in our posts, we are not 100% certain of much at all. We do that because we are convinced that when we do that we do get more discussion. We do that because it is one of our signatures. And we do that even though I know it is a little bit stupid.
What do you think?