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Why More U.S. Expatriates Are Turning In Their Passports...Toxic Citizens


Time Magazine Helena Bachmann / Geneva Tuesday, Apr. 20, 2010

Chicago native Ben loves his country and is proud to be an American. Yet the longtime resident of Melbourne has just relinquished his U.S. citizenship. "This is not something I did lightly or happily, but I saw no other choice," says Ben, a businessman who became an Australian citizen two years ago.

His words resonate with another American expatriate, John, a business owner based near Lausanne, Switzerland, who like Ben asked that his last name be withheld for fear of alienating his family in the U.S. "Giving up my U.S. citizenship is a genuine option," says the Ohio native, who recently received his Swiss passport and is considering relinquishing his American one. "I am at a breaking point — being American costs me time [and] money, but mostly aggravation."

Maybe China is like Antarctica? The Big Bang Symphony

Big Bang.jpgJust heard a great interview by Lucy Jane Bledsoe, an artist and writer that has been to Antarctica three times.  She has also just released a new book that is worth a look.  During this interview, she was talking about what draws a person to the bottom of the world...

The first time you go down there, you do it for the money.  The second time you go is for the adventure.  And the third time you go is because you do not seem to fit in anywhere else anymore.

That sounds a lot like living here.  I mean, I didn't necessarily choose to be here for coming up on a decade.  In fact, it even sounds funny when I say it, "Yes, I am an attorney and I live in Mainland China."  But after while, you just get used to everywhere else feeling well... less.  Of course, less dirty, less crowded, less chaotic.  

US tax law changing again...

D4zGs3aKpKDmAa5rA9bfNfQHAjmdJO6mpeJ85j.jpgOn Friday, 20 March, Congress passed and President Obama signed HIRE-FATCA. Among other things, both offshore banks and brokerage houses as well as U.S. tax return filers are now required to report annual information regarding accounts maintained by U.S. citizens and green card holders. Penalties for not reporting are rather severe. In ‘user-friendly’ English, Mr. Lipsher will review the new provisions of the law and the extended obligations of U.S. tax filers.

Google threatens to leave China: Part II

Ok, so now that Google has stopped censoring it's China content and has started routing everything through their Hong Kong servers what is the end result?  
Zip...nada...diddly squat...
Nothing has changed.  There is a cool bit of flash on my desktop that tells me that I've been sent to Google Hong Kong rather than Google China, but there are no changes on what we have access to.  Yesterday and today are exactly the same...
So, if the idea was that Google was going to promote internet freedom in China by taking a stance and challenging the Chinese Government -- well congratulations ladies and gentlemen -- you pushed a few buttons, re-routed your traffic and just pissed a lot of people off all for no reason...
And that's probably what should have happened at this stage.  Why?

Gold Purchases ruled out to diversify Forex reserves


BEIJING — The government is unlikely to buy large amounts of gold as a means to diversify its $2.39 trillion in foreign exchange reserves, a senior official said, while stressing that “the US treasuries market is very important for China”.

It will be another golden decade if...

From Zhu Qiwen of the China Daily in the Business Section yesterday.
"Three decades of nearly double-digit growth have made China into a unique economic miracle. Will it be able to continue its long-term growth story into the new decade?  
The V-shaped rebound of the Chinese economy last year has seemingly convinced many observers to givetheir vote of confidence for the largest developing economy.
With its beginning as a poor developing country hampered by poverty and underdeveloped economies, China has ascended to the world's largest exporter and the third largest economy with a per capita GDP of about $3,500 by 2009.
There were plenty of bumps along the road. Yet, even the worst global recession in several decades did not stop the Chinese economy from expanding by 8.7 percent last year.

Mergers & Acquisitions are different in China, so lots of the questions you may want to ask are not going to apply here

Our office is in the middle of a handful of existing entity restructuring or merger.jpgcorporate acquisition matters and it is rather odd how many times we find ourselves saying, "Yes, we understand the question but no that concept does not apply here..."  In fact, sometimes the Chinese system will have no equivalent.  And when you do try to impose a Western style legal idea here, they may smile at you politely, but privatley they are likely to think you are being a bit silly.

Sometimes that is because the legal system here is at a certain state of development and those concepts have not yet become commonplace.  But that is not what I am talking about here.  They know that part.  It is their system and they know those faults much better than we do and steps are being taken to resolve things like food safety testing, financial transparency and the like.

South African pigeon is 'faster than broadband', where in China, we can use our cell phones in elevators, tunnels, etc...

winston.jpgA Durban IT company pitted an 11-month-old bird armed with a 4GB memory stick against the ADSL service from the country's biggest web firm, Telkom.

Winston the pigeon took two hours to carry the data 60 miles - in the same time the ADSL had sent 4% of the data.

Telkom said it was not responsible for the firm's slow internet speeds.

The idea for the race came when a member of staff at Unlimited IT complained about the speed of data transmission on ADSL.  He said it would be faster by carrier pigeon.

"We renown ourselves on being innovative, so we decided to test that statement," Unlimited's Kevin Rolfe told the Beeld newspaper.  The full story is carried on the BBC if you want to read more about Winston the data transfer pigeon.

China cracks down on drunk driving and you might do jail time...even if you are a foreigner

China drunk driving.jpgThe foreign community should take a moment and learn a bit about the new drinking and driving enforcement policies here in Shenzhen and nationwide.

Recently the local authorities in Shenzhen have stepped up controls and if drivers are caught with a blood alcohol exceeding the 0.08% limit, they risk jail sentences and fines.

Under these new policies, which have been enforced strictly in the past weeks, driving under the influence of alcohol can result in a 15 day detention as well as a driver's education program and fines.  That means jail, folks.  Chinese jail.

Arbitration is better than a Chinese Court; China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission (“CIETAC”)

cietac banner.jpg

When signing a contract with a Chinese supplier or a buyer or a seller – or virtually any kind of contract that you can think of where at least one side of it touches China – what happens if something goes wrong? Well, one way to ensure that you have a chance of knowing the answer to that question is to insert an arbitration clause about how to solve any dispute in the future should one arise.

For many years, we have recommended that our clients choose the China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission (“CIETAC”) instead of People’s Court. Arbitration has long been a favored means of resolving commercial disputes here, with CIETAC being here since 1956.   Compared with other methods of dispute resolution, arbitration has the following advantages:

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