When in China do as … no; “comply with the law, damn it”

Alistair addressing an international business conference in Beijing in 2008
Alistair addressing an international business conference in Beijing in 2008

Powell Tate Australia’s Executive Vice President and Director of Special Projects Alistair Nicholas is quoted in The Australian advising companies to abide by local laws

when they operate in China.

Alistair’s comments were included in an article by The Australian‘s China correspondent Rowan Callick analysing the Crown Casino affair. His comments were based on his 13-years of experience in China, including seven years running his own business in that market.

Alistair told The Australian that the “most obvious” lesson of the Crown case was the need to “comply with the law, damn it.”

Alistair warned against listening to advisers who say that because China is a guanxi (relationships) culture laws could be skirted. He highlighted that many suggest that because Australia has a good relationship with China Australian companies are immune from Chinese laws.

He told The Australian: “The Crown case, of course, proves this is a nonsense. [China’s] application of the rules may be arbitrary, but that is all the more reason to comply by them. Chinese laws are not applied until they are applied.”

Alistair also said “It is essential for foreign companies to read the tea leaves accurately. In many of the high-profile cases that involve criminal proceedings against foreigners, their companies have failed to pick up warning signs of a crackdown that either is pending or has already begun.”

Alistair said it was imperative that foreign companies planning to enter the China market engage China-based law firms, management consultancies or public affairs firms that can provide intelligence and insights on China business. He also recommended that they consider joining their country’s national chamber of commerce in China and appointing a China advisory board.

The full article can be read here. Note that The Australian requires a subscription to access this article.

 

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