John is joined by Leslie Zhang Weihua, Vice President and General Counsel of United Energy Group, China, one of the largest independent oil and gas companies in the world. They discuss Leslie’s extensive experience in international legal affairs, including his experience as general counsel for both large state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and private companies in China. They discuss the differences between providing legal services for SOEs and private companies, including the additional procedures SOEs must follow in making business decisions, the strategic issues in addition to return on investment that SOEs must consider and how rate sensitive SOE’s procurement procedures are and how that applies to hiring counsel. They also discuss the expectations that Chinese clients have with respect to counsel finding creative solutions to regulatory issues, the rates paid for unsuccessful legal projects, and responsiveness in providing legal analysis. They also compare Chinese and Western law firms with respect to training, expertise, and specialization while noting the ongoing expansion of Chinese firms into international work and the Chinese government’s policy of encouraging the continued development of international arbitration centers in Hong Kong and Singapore. Finally, they discuss the role lawyers can play in improving relations between the United States and China including the importance of recognizing the risks and costs of decoupling.
Published: Jan 4 2024