The lunar new year this time around was a bitter-sweet time. On the one hand, the signing of the first round of trade deal between China and the US brought rays of hope to the economy that has been battling the long-drawn trade war, but on the other hand the new year had a bleak start with the COVID-19 virus outbreak, bringing the country’s economy to a near halt.
The pandemic has China and the rest of the world paddling in uncharted waters. While businesses in China are pinning a lot of hope on the central government’s bold legislative reforms that are changing the face of the Chinese economy and further opening its doors to the world, they are wary of the challenges that lie ahead of them in the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In our cover story Flight of the Black Swan, we interviewed senior in-house counsel and lawyers from across China to map out the opportunities and challenges that await us in 2020. The compilation of the proposed Civil Code, which is set to be the basis for regulating businesses and society, has attracted much attention, while the Anti-monopoly Law, which started soliciting public opinions at the beginning of the year, is expected to raise the threshold of corporate compliance. The new Securities Law, which will improve the protection of investors and increase punishment, and the Foreign Investment Law, which signals the shift towards creation of a level playing field for domestic and international businesses, are much anticipated.
However, the COVID-19 outbreak has disrupted the business plans of domestic enterprises. With the global supply chain blocked, the manufacturing industry in China is facing tremendous difficulties, and the pressures of risk management of investment companies is increasing. The legal issues arising from the pandemic has forced companies to explore invoking the force majeure clause in their contracts. At the same time, the crisis is also an opportunity to test the resilience of enterprises. As the saying goes, “fire tests gold”. While consumer travel has reduced sharply affecting retailers and other services companies, it has created new opportunities for internet-based businesses.
In A Secret War, we review the history of, and the progress on, the protection of trade secrets China and the US from the perspective of legislations. The prolonged Sino-US trade war has paused after the first round of agreements, which has addressed some disputes concerning intellectual property. The focus of the IP agreements between the two nations will be on protecting trade secrets. The feature gives you insights into the hot topic and cautions that the number of civil and criminal proceedings related to trade secrets in both the countries are likely to increase under the new regime.
In this issue, we are happy to bring to you our inaugural edition of the Rising stars award. After extensive research, our editorial team has identified some of China’s most outstanding young lawyers in the past year. Our awards introduce to you some of the most promising young talent, who are raring to take centre stage in the country’s legal market.