Subverting Chinalyst – how not to win friends and influence people

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Commentary: Chris Devonshire-Ellis 

This month at Chinalyst, as can be seen from the “2007 China Blog Awards” banner to the right of this screen, a competition has been held in which people can vote for their favorite China blogs. It’s a good idea, and one that is overdue. These things take a bit of organising, and the good folks at Chinalyst have obviously worked hard to get the contest off the ground. The blogs have been seperated into different categories, with this particular one being entered in the Business section, along with other notable and respected blogs such as Harris & Moure’s China Law Blog, All Roads Lead To China, The Editors Blog at the China Economic Review and so on. With voting continuing, China Law Blog has been leading the way, with China Briefing Blog and All Roads Lead To China in hot pursuit. All well and good.

Now lets back track a little and go over a bit of ancient history. One particular firm based in China, with American ownership and an American Managing Partner has had, in the past, some small problems with China Briefing, and I understand, China Law Blog, not to mention run-ins with other firms in China and elsewhere.

The said firm, who we will not bother to mention, (although I am tempted to rename the Managing Partner Voldemort) has been involved in an unfortunate series of episodes with other China practices over the years. These have included metatagging of other firms, (a practice which subverts search engines to pick a particular site instead of the intended search, now a criminal offense in the US), for which a law suit was issued against a related accounting practice of theirs, the entire copying of one of the prominent China Blogs original site design, and various other ongoing problems that seem to arise from this firm with unpaid wages to staff, antagonism towards competing practices and so on.

Regrettably, the comments section of this firms own entry into Chinalysts competition was used to attack China Briefing. I reproduce some of the text here, all directed at myself:

Come Clean Mr. Ellis – We are Waiting Can Chris Devenshire Ellis Clear His NameHey, Chris Devonshire Ellis “the defense to libel is truth” Now I haven’t read the actual comments, I’m actually on vacation and the comments have been removed. But they don’t look all that pleasant do they? People who did see them tell me they all relate to a denial of law suits that I issued against the accounting subsidiary of the firm in question, and contained a lot of libellous statements. Apparently, I’m a ‘High school dropout’ for example. Quite what inspired these comments is anyones guess. Maybe just as a useful and currently highprofile forum to hurl some pent up abuse at me?

I have also heard of attacks and dubious comments concerning again, China Briefing, as well as ChinaLawBlog being made elsewhere on Chinalysts site. These have also now been removed.

Firstly, although China Law Blog and the China Briefing Blog are both closely competing for the coveted number one position in the Business Blog section on Chinalysts survey, there is no animosity between us. In fact, I post often on China Law Blog and Dan Harris there occassionally makes appearances here. We communicate nearly daily, and often help each other out. Plus our respective firms refer each other business. So I want to make that quite clear, a position I’m sure Dan will endorse.

Yet what concerns me is the attempt, by a competing ‘law’ firm in China, to willingly use Chinalysts bit of fun to try and subvert, create chaos and bad feelings, between other China practices. I’ve been called a lot worse than “a High School drop-out” in my time, but is someones else’s blog really the place to make such statements ? Its not, it’s utterly selfish, and to be frank, downright unprofessional. It says rather more about the individual and the management of the firm involved that it does about myself, China Briefing or China Law Blog.

I’ve had to put up with blog harrassment and nasty jibes from this person and his ‘law’ and ‘accounting’ firms for over three years now. Recently they seem to have been getting worse. I’m at a loss what to do about it, other than just “Sorry” to those who have been sucked into this nasty and ongoing campaign of spite, and to assure those who read this that there is no issue between ourselves, China Law Blog or Chinalyst. We support them all.

But having issued writs against the firm concerned for metatagging my practice, when just trying to protect my business, my employees and welfare against a competing firm who seems to think they can just take what they want and get away with it, in fact to stand up against a bullying firm who then hide behind Chinas loose regulatory code for licensing lawyers in China, it seems I must now be ‘punished’ for daring to stand up and take the bugger to court.

That happened over three years ago. (See the March 2004 issue of China Briefing in the archives section here for the details).

Yet in taking that step I find I am now subjected to an on-going campaign of abuse and harrassment, as is, apparently, any other practice that stands up to these bully-boy tactics with no respect for IP rights or professional consideration.

Dan Harris I am sure will have his say on this. But I can assure you that China Briefing and China Law Blog get on just fine. I just find it sad, that in an environment where everybody should be doing well and concentrating on business, one firm in China stands out as vindictive, nasty, selfish and quite willing to trample on other peoples property in order to continue to spin their web of spite and hatred towards those who maintain rather higher principles of ethics in just trying to run a decent practice.

For those of you who have been affected by this, I can only apologise. But really, couldn’t somebody please do us all a favor and put Voldemort and his cronies out of their misery by shutting them down? Enough surely, is enough. No-one needs this nonsense in our own profession in China.

3 thoughts on “Subverting Chinalyst – how not to win friends and influence people

    I have no beef with Chris or with this blog and Chris’s assertions of our relationship are quite true. But, I also have no beef with “the particular firm” mentioned in this post either and I have absolutely no reason to believe that particular firm had anything to do with the comments on Chinalyst against China Law Blog.

    I was initially very troubled (pissed off would actually be a more honest way to put it) with many of the completely false comments made about China Law Blog on Chinalyst by people who chose to remain anonymous. I got on Chinalyst and went after a couple of them.

    What really drove me nuts though (and something on which I did not comment on Chinalyst) was how people were making it out as though there is only one “best” China blog and all the rest are superflous. I have about 50 China blogs on my blogroll and I can defend every one of them as contributing to the discussion on China. There is no blog out there that even comes close to superseding all the others and I am not aware of any of them that would be silly enough to even try. Without sounding mamby-pamby, I think there are many best blogs out there, it all depending on what you are looking for. In fact, in my mind, the best blogs all have their own little niche and their own expertise. Those of us who constantly blog on China know this and that is why we so often cite to other blogs, carry stories from other blogs, and turn to other blogs for help on an issue.

    The comments on Chinalyst were taken down after I complained (whined would be a more honest way to put it) to Gilad who runs the Chinalyst site. I never asked him to take down the comments and as soon as I realized he had done so, I immediately wrote him and all but begged him to put them back up. So yes, I got skewered quite a bit on there, but in the end I know the truth would have won out. I want to be the last person to put a kabash on a vigorous (though fairly inane) debate. I am a believer in JS Mills’ marketplace of ideas and I am still pushing for Gilad to put the comments back up.

    I will say though that, like Chris, I appreciate what Chinalyst/Gilad is doing here and in general. And I have absolutely no beef with China Briefing whatsoever. Check my blogroll for proof of that.

    I wish the discussion on Chinalyst had been on a higher plane, but, as my 10 year old daughter would say . . . . whatever.

    Gareth Williams says:

    Well Ed as Voldemort made me piss my pants! Those guys are creeps. Keep up the good work both ChinaLawBlog and ChinaBriefing. You’ve nothing to worry about from the dorks about town. You folks are in a different class.

    Sam White says:

    Regrettably the people concerned do have a history of harrasment. Fortunately it is well known and most professioanls in China know to steer well clear. Its a shame they tried to cause upsets on the Chinalyst vote but it appears to have been dealt with. Chris & Dan well done in your handling of this.

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