One million words and a partridge in a pear tree

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Rather more than just a blog, another year passes at China Briefing…

Well, as many of our readers head off about now back home for Christmas and New Year festivities – safe journeys to you all – we’ll have a quick round up of the numbers here at China Briefing and what we did.

Blog vs. News
As you may have noticed, we’ve quietly dropped the blog identity. We’ve felt that blogging about China law and business, while often fun, isn’t representative of what we do. We’re in the business of serious comment on China business, and to do that properly and with integrity you need to have resources, to be in-country and to have access to our own people on the ground. Which we do, with over 150 staff assisting us across China from nine Dezan Shira & Associates offices. So this section of China Briefing has been re-branded as news. Other people can comment about comments – but it’s original content that counts, and that’s what we’re about. Hopefully you’ll see the distinction and appreciate the upgrade. The Blog is dead. Long live the News!

Numbers of China Briefing magazine printed in 2007
Did you know we produce a monthly magazine? We do, it has professional legal/tax content and a free subscription (well hey, it’s Christmas). You can access that here, and we’ll send the pdf to you free of charge each month. The print version is distributed around China, and this year we printed 261,700 copies. Online subscribers internationally to the pdf issue are over the 250,000 mark (but as a pdf it doesn’t show on search engine analytics, which kinda bugs us).

Numbers of China Briefing issues during 2007
Ten issues a year? Actually we produced 53 different issues of China Briefing magazine during 2007 – the ten English language issues plus issues in French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Greek. If you want to subscribe to China Briefing in these languages, you can visit here. We’re hoping to add Arabic, Russian and Sanskrit from 2008 for our markets in the Middle East, Russia and India.

Published books in 2007
Yup, we also publish books. OK, mainly boring ones about China law and tax, but someone has to…China Briefing published eleven technical guides during 2007. That’s a second edition of our “Guide to Establishing Representative Offices,” a first and second edition of our guide to establishing WFOE’s, plus a translation in Spanish, a guide to establishing joint ventures, our “Guide to China’s Business Taxes” (two editions), a “Small-Medium Enterprise China Business Bible” and the history of Dezan Shira & Associates. You can view all these titles and access content descriptions here. In terms of sales: the metaphor descriptions “Hot Cakes” and “Stuff off a Shovel” apply.

Coming out in the first two months of 2008
Our guide to China M&A, a second edition of our JV guide, the 2008 China tax guide and five regional investment guides covering the entire country, before March.

Other media
Yes – there’s more!!!! The hard working production team at China Briefing is also responsible for the following:
China Expat magazine – daily blog, monthly print magazine / archives all about business travel and culture in China.

India Briefing magazine – like China Briefing, but curry flavored – our China-India bilateral website. Sort of like Hu Jintao goes to Bollywood, but even cooler.

Did we forget to mention Mongolia? Yes we did. You can check this out, as a labor of love: The magazine is the biggest selling English language monthly in the country, while the travel guide is out-selling Lonely Planet’s by a factor of 4-1. Really. Toktoy!

China Briefing’s Top Ten News Stories For 2007
These subjects, from the most visited down to number ten, generated the most individual views:

New catalogue for foreign direct investment (we scooped everyone by 24 hours)
China’s glass ceiling (on how it’s political system is beginning to prevent growth)
Software intangibles and the Olympics (problems with getting this in place)
Foreign analysts considering China plays as globally relevant (and why this is a mistake in a closed market economy)
The roulette wheel: Due diligence, due diligence, due diligence (The 6 D’s, and why they are important)
Yingkou Port in Northeast China (why it’s very much one to watch)
VAT rebates cancelled or reduced (the news and implications as it occurred)
China’s troubled skies (infrastructural and financing problems among it’s aviation industry)
Should manufacturers move inland to avoid processing trade restrictions? (we weigh it up)
China’s border with Vietnam (the implications for both countries as they open trade)

China Briefing’s most viewed magazine issues for 2007
The top three magazine issues in terms of downloads (readers) this year were:

November – Analyzing Chinese Financial Reporting
January – Individual Income Tax
and surprisingly, a classic issue from 2006:
Common Mistakes & Misperceptions When Investing In China – And How to Avoid Them
The past three years of China Briefing magazine archives can be viewed here.

The words
Well we didn’t attempt to physically count them all, but they’re well over a million. That’s about the equivalent of three Harry Potter novels…the thick ones. And while we may not be as popular as the Wizard from Hogwart’s, China Briefing’s books do outsell him in Hong Kong, where he manages 10,000 copies each volume. We do more with our technical guides there than he does of stories about magic; and thousands of our books sell internationally.

So there you have it, a year at China Briefing. Thank you to all our readers here on our daily news service, to all the subscribers to the magazine(s) and to all of you who bought our books. Next year will be a blast as well.

Finally – we wish you all a Very Merry Christmas – and here’s a partridge in a pear tree

Merry Christmas!!!

Best wishes from all at China Briefing.

16 thoughts on “One million words and a partridge in a pear tree

    Martin Gordon says:

    I am sure I am not alone when I can tell you I collect every single issue of your magazine for several years now and buy all your books. It is a very good service you provide and the books are very good value. Well done on your hard work and keep it up for us businessmen in China during 2008.

    Mike C says:

    Nice job guys. I have no idea why you are so determined to give me so much interesting, useful, and valuable information for free, but I’ll take it. Best of luck in the new year.

    Fidelmeister says:

    What does this mean? Does it mean this site is going to go dark? Does it mean there will be no more comments? How will the site change in the future. I confess I just don’t get it.

    Chris Devonshire-Ellis says:

    The blog has been rebranded as news but will remain in the same format. The reason for this is that our research on similar blogs showed most of them (honorable exceptions to AllRoadsLeadToChina and ChinaHearsay) effectively just comment on other peoples comments, some with very little real China knowledge, whereas China Briefing provides news and information updates, it’s a far more serious and credible product. China Briefing is in fact a fully fledged news and media business, having published magazines for eight years now and a series of best selling books in multiple languages. However, we felt the blog identity was damaging the credibility of this with an assumption that the brand was just a daily blog and was obstructing the real assets of hard news information, original content, reporting and other publications that we have. The function of the daily news however will not change, it’s just that we want to get away from being categorized with all the low-end China blogs (some of which, quite frankly are appalling, rather devious, or one sided – we are consequently dropping all blogs from our blogroll) and back to what we do best – reporting on topics that affect China business. So daily reports will still appear here, you’ll be able if you wish to comment on them as before, and the print and electronic subscription to the monthly magazine will continue to be free. Hope that clears that up – and thanks for your support. The China blog is dead. Long live credible China News !

    Chris Devonshire-Ellis says:

    Mike C – we give it away because we can afford to – and to showcase the capabilities of our consulting practice, Dezan Shira & Associates ( The cost of the free print magazine (which runs into hundreds of thousands of dollars a year) is offset by our booksales – we sell a lot of books – while the whole exercise both promotes Dezan Shira as a firm as well as being what China Briefing has now become – an industry standard China legal / tax / business educational and informative media platform in it’s own right. Most firms treat marketing as an expense. We treat ours as a business, and make money from it both directly in terms of sales, and indirectly through driving foreign investors who appreciate the quality of our material, to our consulting practice. You win, as you get free or inexpensive information through the daily news, our magazines or our books, China Briefing wins, as it develops into a quality publishing brand with real income, and Dezan Shira & Associates wins as we obtain clients from the facility. Not just win-win, but win-win-win!

    It gives our competitors headaches though in trying to keep up, however I’m OK with that….bless ’em.

    Trevor White says:

    Chris and your team – a truly inspirational job. I had no idea you produced so much! The magazine is very well received (I’ve been a subscriber for four years) and I also regularly read the blog…or should I say NEWS??!!! I see you are breaking into India and although thats not in our plans I am sure if you keep the same quality as you have been with the China Briefing you’ll do very well. Thanks for your support of our business in China via your free updates – it’s a terrific service.

    Tony Ellis says:

    Well done to China Briefing and all the best for the new year. I appreciate your hard work and philanthropy in providing a much needed source of good quality China business commentary to foreign businessmen involved in China trying to make sense of it. Congratulations and have a successful 2008

    Zhang Ling says:

    I sort of agree about the blog standrads. I do read them for poples opinion but I come here when I want to find out the real situation and articles about the new regulations. But I’m happy you keep the comemnts here on your news/blog! Anyway I think a lot of peopels learn from this site more than others I expect.

    Colin White says:

    The China blogs on business and law out there are OK but a bit limiting, and usually written by just one person, often it seems to me an American lawyer, mainly with IP and China risk fixations. Thats alright, but it makes the content rather limiting. What I think the difference is with China Briefing and this site is that it’s not just limited to one man’s views, there’s several people contributing and it does cover law, tax, business and occasionally a bit of light culture thrown in. It also, as far as I have been able to find, the only site that regularly has regional news of other cities (presumably because Dezan has offices there) and coverage of other countries that are affected by or affecting China, such as India and last weeks Vietnam coverage. It’s a good mix, and by far and away the most professional of these sorts of sites that are available. I don’t think anyone else can realistically touch China Briefing in terms of China business content when you count up the news service here, and all the magazines and books. Plus most of it’s free. The best business commentary and advice deal in China if you ask me, and I’m not surprised, China Briefing simply has been at it for far longer and has more resources to throw at the subject of China business than any of the one-man blogs, good as they may be. It is a different animal. Anyway, great work guys and keep it up. I’m looking forward to the China M&A book and already placed an order in for it – when is it expected?

    Chris Devonshire-Ellis says:

    Hi Colin, Good to see you here. The “China Briefing Guide to China Mergers & Acquisitions” is at final proof stage – I will read the whole thing through (again) this weekend, and then it will go to print next week. We’ll be able to ship after the New Year. Our legal services team have been working hard on it the past four months. Priced USD25 plus p&p, from Full content details etc will be posted on the site and in the magazine as soon as it goes to print. We have a lot of advance orders for that particular title, I think it’ll be a popular one. Thanks


    Fidelmesiter says:

    This all strikes me as rather strange and I have to wonder if perhaps this is not a case of your picking up your ball and going home after not having made the impact you expected. There are a number of excellent and very influential Chinese blogs out there and if you had stuck with it, you too might have reached that point. I do not believe you will achieve much of an audience of people coming here for “news” rather than going to the Financial Times or the Guardian, or wherever. Those newspapers have hundreds of trained journalists and it shocks me you think you can compete with them. How will you do this? In any event, I wish you the best of luck.

    Chris Devonshire-Ellis says:

    Fidelmeister – not having made an impact ? Hardly. We printed over a quarter of a million copies of the magazine in 2007, have over 250,000 online subscribers to the magazine and sold about 60,000 books. This news (blog) section is only a small part of what we do. China Briefing is a business with a multi-million dollar turnover in it’s own right. Thats a bit different to blogging. As I said, nothing much is changing – it’s just that blogs in our view are generally a low end form of media and we’re more news oriented. You just have to look at the next entries to see that: The Hong Kong Spin, China and Kazakstan, and Getting Prepared For Your Annual Audit. I don’t see any blogs dealing with those and neither the FT etc. China Briefing has it’s own niche.

    Mark Pegler says:

    Good you’re keeping your blog / news whatever you want to call it is fine by me. Great mag also – and looking forward to your fortchcoming books.

    David Watters says:

    The best China business online library bar none. Well done and keep it up, lads.

    Frederick Langham says:

    Your right the China blogs are mainly rubbish with people trying to be experts and promoting themselves as such in commenting on other peoples stories.

    Mark Pegler says:

    China Briefing is definately where it is at !!!!

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