Those that you work with heavily influence your viewpoint in China -- Michael Sylvester

Today I wanted to focus on a matter of perspective rather than the application of any specificglasses.jpg piece of legislation and how it applies to living, working and business here.
Sure, this is a bit of a strange place with it's decades of double digit growth, accidentally taking over the world economy with a huge checkbook and the occasional saber rattling with Japan over a few rocks in the sea between here and there.
Yet, at base how things work here, meaning not what you can get away with for lack of internal regulatory policing or training on the part of government officials, but what is defensible long-term in the stark light of day, is just not that damn differnt than anywhere else.
And if you want to argue about it because you have a story to tell and think China is just a black hole with no rules and is more of a mess than any other similarly powerful country, let's talk about horse meat in Europe for a minute or two...
So, getting back to the point...we have had hundreds of client interactions where a large majority of the problems clients encounter have more to do with who they hired to help them first than you might imagine.  Not as legal counsel, in a 'you should hire us' prodding way.  Not at all.
Rather, in the cosmic roulette wheel of hiring your first few Chinese National translators, assistants, business partners or whatever -- you might get lucky and you might not.  There are 36 black or red numbers on a roulette wheel and a green zero and double zero -- giving you about 38 to 1 odds of making the right choice.  Your odds of finding the right someone to guide you here are no better and are probably a lot worse.  Why?
Because everything you know about China, how it works, what it takes to succeed here, how to solve problems and how to get anything accomplished is a matter of perspective, theirs not yours.
But what if the extent of their knowlege ends with their English language competence?  Or they have years of experience in a type of business that is no longer allowed to exist here.  Or perhaps the worst of all possible choices, in our experience, those who used to live here and have come back.
The point is, if you find yourself in a situation where you are drowning in red tape, delay, business killing regulatory uncertainty and sometimes just plain nonsense -- stop.  Just stop and consider if what you are being told makes any sense at all.  
For, while the social, financial, legal and regulatory system here does have a few local twists that we need to deal with -- if it does not pass the sniff test -- someone may be covering up their own incompetence with making it sound too hard for you to be able to understand.
Not because it is too hard to understand, but because they do not understand.  Their perspective may be skewed, not yours.  
So, while we would advise against it, if you do choose to rely on and build your business on what you see by looking through a lens of someone else, someone you have hired -- even if what they say does not make much sense -- do so at your own peril.
Yes, it is different.  Yet, not so different that you can not understand.