China-US Business Companion

Finding the Best Websites for Doing Business in China, U.S.

Posted in Uncategorized

There are hundreds of organizations, alliances, groups and resources for doing business in China for the American business person, and vice versa.  I find that the best websites are government based–sooner or later in either country you will have to deal with that nation’s government and laws, so might as well start at these reputable sites to do your research.  Check out the Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China’s website for the best information about China’s current economic initiatives and business trends.  For up to date information on China’s foreign policy, the website for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is helpful.  For visas and immigration to China, start by looking at the website of the Consular General in your home country and area, such as the one in New York.  

Likewise, for information about U.S. trade, economic policy, foreign affairs and so forth can be found by logging into the massive umbrella site, which has numerous sites of interest.  And please, as an immigration lawyer I must caution you against non-government sites for visa and other immigration information.  Some of these sites can be downright misleading.  Your best bet is to go to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services website–the site has everything you need to get information about different processing, obtain forms, and get contact information.

China Leads in the Olympics

Posted in Business Travel Abroad, Visa Issues

Seventeen gold medals and counting…China is leading the pack at the 2012 Olympics in London.  From weightlifting to fencing, Chinese athletes are going for and getting the gold, but the United States close behind with fourteen gold medals to date.    China:  “Hey world, our first place gold medal finish in 2008 was not just due to home court advantage!”

While most of us are watching the Games excitedly from TVs and the Internet, many have travelled to London to see our athletes compete.  To deal with the congestion in London, the US embassy in London has increased its visa appointment capacity by extending its hours.  But visa wait times in London have been creeping up –the delays are only relevant if you are trying to get out of the UK to the US for work or an extended time.  Thankfully, American citizens to just want to visit the UK don’t need a visa, but in most cases nationals of China are required to get a visa to visit the UK.   The UK Border Agency provides more info if you are still aiming to catch the Olympics and Big Ben!

A slower growth rate is nothing to be scared of

Posted in Business Travel Abroad, Uncategorized


China’s second-quarter of 2012 GDP rate has slowed down to 7.6%. For a country used to a double digit economic growth this might be worrisome: foreign demands have decreased (especially with the European crisis), wages increase by an average of 10% per year yet the blue-collar workers’ pay (albeit it drives up consumption) is too small to drive up China’s significant economy and cheap credit (as the sub-prime have shown) produces dangerous liquidity bubbles.

As China’s growth slows, the world worries” claimed but should it really?

The Chinese government is well aware of the impending actions that need to be taken, yet there is a discussion on which approach should be chosen. On the one hand, it is believed that a stimulate package, like in 2008, would remedy this problem. On the other hand, observers -such as the British Jonathan Fenby- and some Chinese leaders believe that Chinese economy is at a turning point: it needs to rethink its economic model.

The latter options seems more pertinent. Ever since Deng Xiaoping launched his “Second Revolution” (i. e. the economic reform) in 1978, China adopted a capitalist market. At the beginning of the reform, China finally entered in an industrialized area. The evolution the Chinese economy is experiencing may be compared to the one developed countries experienced. After the Glorious Thirty, the economic model of the Western countries shifted to what is now referred to a “post-industrial area”. The service sector was greatly developed at the detriment of agriculture and industry. Even more, the GDP growth rate slowed in a context of economic crisis (i. e. the oil price shock). Sounds familiar?

Thus, “the world should not worry”, for China might just be entering in a new stage of Deng’s reform.

China, world’s new green powerhouse?

Posted in Business Travel Abroad, Uncategorized

China ripens into a green power -if not superpower. According to latest International Energy Agency (IEA)’s report, in 2017, China will represent 40% of worldwide renewable energy. That is five times more than what is expected of the United States and seven times more than India. Still according to the IEA in 2011 it already was the biggest wind market, providing 1.000 GW of wind power. Such capacity had the potential of decreasing carbon dioxide emissions by 1.5 gigatons per year.

During its speech in Denver, Colorado, the United Nations General-Secretary Ban Ki-moon brought up renewable energy issues. He said that renewable energy had the ability to lift the poorest nations to new levels of prosperity.

Therefore renewable energy is not a simple global warming alternative but a development strategy as well. China had previously turned to other energies to provide for its economic growth. In 2010 it was the biggest coal importer, and then in 2011, according to BP Statistical Review of World Energy, it became the biggest gas consumer.  This turnaround can only benefit China.

Ban Ki-moon foretold countries that move quickly down a clean energy will be the economic powerhouse of the 21st century.” This advice did not fall into deaf ears.

Can They Refuse Me Entry At the Airport?

Posted in Business Travel Abroad

Answer:  Yes.  The United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at every international airport in the United States have the authority to refuse entry to any non-citizen based on a number of grounds.  One common and frequently misunderstood ground of inadmissibility is lack of temporary intent.   Even well-meaning reputable business persons who travel to the United States on the Visa Waiver Program or the B-1 visa can be told to turn around and take a plane back to their home country.   Why?  Coming to the U.S. on the Visa Waiver or B-1 visa requires temporary intent to the satisfaction of the reviewing officer.   So even if you have no intention whatsoever to stay in the U.S,. or work here, certain factors can work against you:    frequent trips to the U.S., any overstay on previous visits, no return ticket back home, lack of concrete plans in the U.S., lack of funds to visit the U.S. without working, etc., etc, etc.   Some say it all comes down to the officer’s (mis?)perception of the evil glint in your eye to overstay your visa and engage in unauthorized work with abandon.   Whatever the grounds, visitors should note that CBP does have authority to refuse entry and will use this authority without sympathy for your travel plans.

Who is Eligible for L-1 Intracompany Transferee Visa?

Posted in Business Travel Abroad, Visa Issues

Answer: Certain types of employees of a multinational company, who have worked at least one year at an affiliate company abroad can be eligible for the L-1 intracompany transferee visa. The employee must have been a manager, executive, or specialized worker and must be coming to work as such in the U.S.

The L-1A visa is ideal for those, like Chinese nationals, who are not eligible for the E-1 or E-2 treaty investor visa (due to lack of required treaties between the US and China). The scenario usually plays out like this: Mr. Li, an owner of a business in China, is the CEO or another type of executive/manager of his company. He seeks to invest in the United States.   A corporation is formed in the US that is affiliated to the Chinese corporation. The now multinational corporation sponsors Mr. Li to transfer to the US to work as manager or executive. Petition is made with the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), and if approved, Mr. Li and his family attend visa interviews at an embassy in China. Later, Mr. Li has the option of being sponsored for permanent residency based on his status as managerial/executive transferee.

The above is a very simplistic layout of the L-1A visa for managers or executives for new US business. There are many exceptions, rules and details that are part and parcel of any visa petition with the USCIS and embassies (Department of State).

Surviving in China: Separation of Work and Personal Life

Posted in Business Travel Abroad

As the Director of China Business Development for Cozen O’Connor, I spend half of my time in the US and half of my time in China. People often ask me about the cultural, social and professional differences between China and the US, and how I adapt to each country when I travel. Well, the differences are so numerous on so many different levels I usually just smile and try to walk away from that question. That said, if you are an American and want to survive in China you better get a realistic understanding on these cultural, social and professional differences between China and the US.

After having been back in Philadelphia for a few weeks now, and just sitting in my apartment quietly on a Saturday without any calls or interruptions from my Blackberry, I feel very relaxed, at peace, but, at the same time, also a bit uneasy due to the lack of business activity for almost 15 hours. See, in China there is no separation between business and personal life. The cell phone is ringing at all hours of the day, seven days a week. Everyone talks about deals, new business opportunities and great ideas to make money all the time. Every meal is a gathering of friends, business partners, successful entrepreneurs, important contacts in government agencies etc…

When you first arrive in China the warmness of these people, the big dinners and ‘ganbei’s, and all the talk about business opportunities can be very exciting. However, after having big lunches and dinners every meal and talking about business opportunities at all hours of the day it becomes exhausting. The ability to focus on the right project in China is the key to success. I suggest that if you are going to China to work or to find new and exciting opportunities. Please! Pace your self, find and focus on the right projects, save time for personal space, be selective with who you spend your precious time with and energy on. You will last a lot longer in China.

Chinese Language Assistance in the US

Posted in Business Travel Abroad

In order to welcome the growing number of Chinese business travellers to the U.S., a number of businesses such as hotels are providing language assistance.  According to a recent New York Times article, hotels like Marriott, Hilton and Starwood are providing bilingual staff, menus written in Chinese, and other language assistance.

Law firms are also catering to their current and potential Chinese business clientele, by hiring attorneys and staff who have Chinese language capabilities.  Meixian Li, Director of Chinese Business Development at Cozen O’Connor and blogger on this site, is able to communicate fluently with our Chinese clientele.

B-1 Business Visitor Visa

Posted in Visa Issues

Chinese nationals who want to visit the U.S. for business purposes can enter in on a B-1 Business Visitor visa.  This visa allows the businessperson to come to the U.S. to attend business meetings, functions, conferences and negotiations.  While the B-1 doesn’t allow employment, it is a convenient way to enter the country to scope out business opportunities and meet with colleagues.  B-1 visitors should be prepared to explain the purpose of their trip to border officials upon deplaning, and evidence of funds during the stay is also helpful.