New beginnings

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First of all, from all of us at China Business Law Journal, our very warmest wishes to all our readers for a happy and prosperous Year of the Snake! The great thing about the new year is it’s a time to start afresh, clear out the dead wood and herald new beginnings. And for our first issue in the Chinese new year, we have some exciting new sections to introduce.

cblj-1302-prologueFirst, our new Dispute Digest section will be a regular monthly addition to China Business Law Journal, reflecting the tremendous growth and future potential of this important practice area. Dispute Digest has been produced in collaboration with some of the region’s top arbitration centres and respected industry professionals. It’s also our first forum, and we invite you to share your views on the articles included, or simply your own opinions or case histories. We encourage you to take part and help us make the section a true pulse for this exciting area.

Second, octogenarian David Buxbaum launches our new Profile series of features. Buxbaum is a US lawyer who arrived in China a few weeks after Richard Nixon’s historic visit, and stayed. As a foreigner who has personally shared China’s journey over four decades, his views on the country’s legal development and eras long past are fascinating and quite unique.

Elsewhere in this issue, our Year of the Snake special, What’s up in 2013? canvasses the fears and hopes of in-house counsel and presents some interesting opinions. Counsel working for domestic and multinational companies point to regional tensions and the change of leadership as key political issues that may impact upon their companies and their work. The speed of regulatory change in China is a universal concern. Other issues include labour law and IP regulatory changes, as well as compliance and antitrust. It’s interesting to see how much more attuned domestic in-house counsel are to international events and cross-jurisdictional developments, a sign of the times as China-based businesses expand and the world becomes smaller.

Old comrades explores the opportunities and pitfalls of trade and investment between China and Russia. With bilateral trade growth of over 11% last year, key areas like high-technology industries and R&D are beckoning Chinese interests. Russia’s Far East, with abundant resources and access to shipping, is a hotspot, offering tax incentives for new businesses and luring infrastructure developers via PPPs.

But there are concerns. Russia’s recent accession to the WTO may well be hobbled by the nation’s efforts to establish a regional intergovernmental network in the form of a Customs Union, and eventually a Eurasian Union. WTO regulations do not dovetail with the regulations of the latter two, and these contradictions may impact on trade with China and other partners. Finally, China has come a long way in understanding the cultural nuances of the West, but there are great gaps in its relationship with Russia, and this can ultimately affect transactions.