Suing someone in Mainland China or Hong Kong Michael Sylvester

Let's say that one of your transactions melts down and you end up losing half a million dollars on an outsourced manufacturing contract and you want to try to find a way to recover funds you advanced as a deposit.
 
Generally, the first thing that folks from the US do is to hire a litigation team in the United States to file a lawsuit in, let's say Ohio, and then they mail service of process to your supplier in Shanghai saying 'we'll kick their asses down the Columbus courthouse steps, hee hee hee...."  
 
Then what?  Well, then nothing.
 
Not only is such a strategy not very pragmatic, it actually violates both the Chinese and US law on international service of process.  Even attempting to collect evidence, or trying to take depositions -- where you try to collect enough information to support your claim -- can actually get your lawyer thrown in jail.  
 
And that whole service of process thing, where you have to send notice to the opposing party to appear for a court date -- while you are not going to get tossed in jail for mailing one -- don't hold you breath waiting for someone to answer you as it will most likley end up at the bottom of a bird cage -- because people here recycle everything...  And they are legally protected in letting a bird poop on it, ignore you and never answer or respond to you.
 
As such, if you really get a wild hair up your nose and want to proceed and sue 'those rat bastards' over there in China anyway -- then we'll have to set you up with a Letters Rogatory registration.

 
That is a treaty based process where you ask the Chinese Government to allow you to try to drag someone in China into a court in the USA.  These generally take about a year to a year and a half and cost something in the low six figures to put togther since you have to have a legal team here to try to process one for you.
 
And what response would you expect to get back from the Chinese Government?  Well, given that the US does not recognize the validity of China origin lawsuits, the Chinese government is not really open to recognizing the validity of US based lawsuits either in a tit for tat sort of way 
 
So, while the process is technically supposed to give you a remedy, the political parts of the China vs the US relationship have, in our ten years of being here, never really worked very well.   
 

So, rather than get your attorney tossed into a Chinese prison (although we have met a few that might deserve it) one way to deal with this issue is to recognize that the world is a big place and there are lots of different sets of rules that we need to remain mindful of at all times.  The best defense is often a good offense.  
 
There are laws and rules here that can prevent you from ever having to know anything about the few short paragraphs you just read through.  The short name for that comprehensive strategy is called 'follows the rules' as China has sketched them out.  This is a great place to do business, but is a very unforgiving environment if things melt down.
 
Oh and by the way, as noted in this header of this article, Hong Kong is about 99% similar to Mainland China in this regard.