With China and the US at loggerheads on trade, we asked three experts for the top three us legal risks for Chinese companies and executives this year. Richard A Mojica, Brian J Fleming and Collmann Griffin give their views
US enforcement actions against Chinese companies and executives made headlines in 2018, and into early 2019. In January this year, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) announced multiple charges against Huawei Technologies, and several related subsidiaries and individuals.
In 2018, Chinese companies and individuals that faced either criminal or civil enforcement actions included ZTE Corporation, Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit, Huawei, its CFO Meng Wanzhou, former Hong Kong government official Patrick Ho, and Macau-based billionaire David Ng Lap-seng.
Simultaneously, from May 2018, the US began rolling out tariffs on approximately US$250 billion worth of yearly imports from China, launching a trade war between the two countries that is ongoing. Then, in November 2018, then US attorney-general Jeff Sessions announced the DOJ’s “China Initiative”, a legal and prosecutorial initiative that ties together US objectives connected with intellectual property, international trade, anti-corruption and national security, and suggests that China-focused enforcement will continue for the foreseeable future.
The US has long been known to interpret its jurisdiction aggressively to target non-US companies and individuals, for example in the EU, Brazil, Venezuela, Turkey and Iran. In addition, the US has also long targeted US companies and individuals operating in China, for example by bringing dozens of enforcement actions against US companies and their Chinese subsidiaries in connection with foreign corruption and export controls. Never before, however, has the attention of US authorities been focused on Chinese companies and individuals as it appears to be today.
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Richard A Mojica is a member at Miller & Chevalier, and previously served as an attorney at the US Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Regulations and Rulings. Brian J Fleming, a member at Miller & Chevalier, and Collmann Griffin, an associate, co-authored this article