Accolades and challenges


The global economic performance in 2017 in general was a delight for market observers. Many of the major economies have seen better GDP growth rates. China’s GDP, also better than expected, grew at an annual rate of 6.9%, the first upswing since 2011. The vigour of Chinese economic activities was also reflected in our annual award coverage for Deals of the Year.


The reform of Chinese state-owned enterprises has been actively ongoing. One of the most significant examples was the mixed-ownership reform of China Unicom, the first of its kind undertaken by a central state-owned enterprise that attracted private capital from Chinese internet giants. Technology companies were also active in merging and building partnerships, bolstering their presence in both domestic and international markets.

However, trade conflicts are still a highlight, and this topic is bound to be more arresting in 2018 as addressing the export-import imbalance is always top of the agenda with the current US administration. The results of some investigations into Chinese companies’ trade behaviour will soon be unveiled, and it is not difficult to anticipate the conclusions. Successful cases in 2017 may give some insights to exporters caught in such investigations in 2018.

In Legal begets AI, the final article in our three-part series on technology, we look at how the emergence of artificial intelligence is reshaping the landscape of the traditional legal services market. The story looks at programs and IT products that are being created and adopted by some pro-technology law firms to enhance their services and stay ahead in this new field of competition. You will also read about insights from tech start-ups on what artificial intelligence can offer to help law firms at this moment, as well as the future growth potential.

Compliance alerts is also a must-read this issue. Chinese companies are closely watching what the Trump administration has done, or plans to do, about China, but they may not be fully aware that the current US administration’s actions against other countries may also have indirect but strong effects on them.

The Trump team’s new sanctions, export controls and anti-money laundering measures directed against Russia, North Korea and Iran will also be enforced against companies and financial institutions that do business with, or otherwise support, those jurisdictions. It is therefore very important for Chinese companies to understand US law and their potential exposure to the rapidly changing enforcement risks.