January 2012

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SOPA vs The Great Chinese Firewall? Michael Sylvester

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While there is such a thing as a Chinese firewall, even here it is perfectly legal to have a VPN that allows you to browse anything, anytime, anywhere.  

Meaning, it is expresely permitted to mask your online activity. As long as the State does not make any money on getting you that online access.  We even pay for ours with our Chinese credit card...   Interesting, especially when happening the same week that China topped 500 million online users.

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Chinese legal topography. There is a way to get from A to B. Michael Sylvester

Remember back in school when you first saw a topographic map?  Some were even those threemap.jpg dimensional plastic things as big as a table that showed the lakes, rivers, mountains and such. They were like little models of the world that you could touch.  Totally cool when you're six. 

Well, I was always fascinated with them and when I was old enough to start sailing, it was a pretty easy transition to understanding the outlines of a coast, the depth of a channel, where the reefs were, etc... So, it is pretty cool that I make those for a living now here in Mainland China.

My maps come in the form of legal opinions, rather than in the fancy three dimensional colored plastic versions I first saw back in elemantary school - but they are maps, of a sort, just the same.

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Picking your battles in China...Michael Sylvester

Sometimes, it does not matter who is right or wrong.  Life happens.  And while it is ok toskunk.jpg lose your patience or your sense of humor for a few minutes every now and agian - there are times when you are swept up in a series of events that are going to beat you whether you like it or not.

We do a pretty good job of keeping these to a minimum with our clients.  But, every now and again you just get sideswiped.  When that happens the only thing you can do is recognize you have to pick your battles and move on.

A tree branch falls on the power lines during a snow storm?  Get out the candles and call it a romantic night at home.  A freighter runs aground in New Zealand?  Send all your customers a link to CNN and figure out how to push the restart button.

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China is not behind an iron curtain, but it might help you to think it is sometimes...Michael Sylvester

iron curtain.jpgChina is not behind an iron curtain, not formally anyway but it might help you to think it is sometimes...

For while there is a formal legal and financial system here, it is written to deal with the way the world works here...not where you come from.  This should not be a surprise but it still seems to cause great consternation when we are dealing with our clients.

Their law is written for their world and world view and particular circumstances and is not anti-anything really...

Yes, China is part of the world economy and things can ebb and flow into and out of China much more seamlessly than ever.  However, money flowing in or out crosses the border.  So, rather than worry about what you might be able to get away with inside China, the State here manages the choke point or bottleneck and leaves much of the rest alone as development charges on.