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Asian voice: Ezra F Vogel

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Ezra Vogel attends the publication ceremony for Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China, Beijing, China, 18 January 2013.

Author: Richard Dyck, Tokyo

Ezra Vogel, among the world’s foremost scholars of Asian studies, died on 20 December of complications during an operation. Ezra was a robust 90 years old, actively corresponding with friends and colleagues until the day of his death. This sudden, unanticipated loss of a scholar and close friend was a sad end to a challenging year.

There was nothing in Ezra’s early life to portend his eventual rise to prominence as an Asian scholar. He grew up in Delaware, Ohio — a small town 20 miles from the state capital of Columbus. His parents, Joe and Edith Vogel, were immigrants from Eastern Europe, and the Vogels were among the few Jewish families in this Protestant Midwestern town. His father owned a clothing store in town, where Ezra helped out after school. He attended Ohio Wesleyan University, where he majored in sociology as an undergraduate. After two years in the army, he entered graduate school at Harvard, where he studied in the Social Relations Department under the renowned theorist, Talcott Parsons.

Ezra only began study of Asia after finishing his PhD, when he was granted a fellowship to do a field study of Japanese families. He and his wife, Suzanne Vogel, went to Japan, and after a year of language study, commenced a field study of six families in the suburbs of Tokyo, resulting in the book, Japan’s New Middle Class (1963).

He then returned to Harvard to study Chinese and prepare for field work on a study of the first two decades of Communist Party rule in Guangdong. In the days when Americans could not get access to China, he did the field work in Hong Kong, reading documents and conducting extensive interviews with Chinese refugees. This project resulted in the path-breaking book, Canton Under Communism (1969). Twenty years later, after foreign scholars were allowed access to China, he published a detailed follow-up, One Step Ahead in China: Guangdong Under Reform (1989).

Ezra left an impressive body of scholarship, covering Japan and China, as well as Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and Southeast Asia. He led in building the institutional infrastructure of Asian studies at Harvard, serving as director of the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies (1973–75) and the Asia Center (1997–99), and he played a key role in establishing the Reischauer Center for Japanese studies.

Ezra’s impact on Asia affairs spread beyond Harvard. Between 1993 and 1995, he served as the Director of National Intelligence for Asia in the Clinton administration. Together with Joseph Nye, he helped to reframe US security strategy for the Pacific region following the end of the Cold War by authoring the 1995 US Policy for Security in East Asia.

Ezra is probably best known, particularly in Japan, for his book Japan as Number One: Lessons for America (1979). He wrote this book after spending time in Japan in the 1970s, when he became concerned about social and political problems in the United States in the aftermath of the Vietnam War. It was a period of double-digit unemployment, massive trade deficits and the erosion of the competitiveness of American manufacturing. Along with other sociologists, including Ronald Dore and Robert Bellah, Ezra began to feel that Japan’s modernisation had developed differently, and in some ways better, than the West.

The book sold 50,000 copies in the United States. Along with similar books at the time, it alerted opinion leaders, particularly in the manufacturing sector, to look at Japan as a model. In Japan, the book sold 500,000 copies and held the record for non-fiction sales for decades. It earned Ezra a level of celebrity that lasted for the rest of his life. After his death, all major Japanese newspapers published obituaries and articles, with headlines noting ‘Ezra Vogel, author of Japan as Number One, dies’.

Ezra left full-time teaching in 2000, at the age of 70, not to retire but to devote full time to a major project which became Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China (2011). He conducted extensive interviews in China of Deng’s children and relatives and people who worked with Deng. He also interviewed leaders in the United States, Australia, Singapore, Japan and Europe who knew Deng. Ezra saw Deng as a national leader who achieved the most dramatic transformation of any country in the 20th century.

Although the work has received criticism for not emphasising Deng’s cruel excesses and those of the Communist Party, Ezra’s response was that these are included in the book, but he did not want them to overshadow China’s transformation. To…

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The New Company Law brings substantial changes with implications for new and existing foreign invested enterprises and stakeholders. Foreign investors must assess if adjustments to existing structures

Despite recent economic challenges, many organizations’ China operations provide unparalleled access to one of the world’s largest and most competitive global supply chains. Over the past 30 years, a significant number of foreign invested enterprises (FIEs) have been established in China. As of the end of 2022, the number of FIEs operating in China had exceeded 1.12 million.

Compared to their domestic counterparts, FIEs demonstrate greater caution regarding legal revisions and are diligent in making swift adjustments. This stems not only from the closer scrutiny FIEs face from regulatory authorities but also from their commitment to compliance and maintaining a competitive edge.

Clearly, there has been a shift in China’s corporate regulations—from merely encouraging an increase in the number of companies to focusing on attracting mature enterprises and higher-quality investments. While the transition from a broad approach to a more refined one may cause short-term challenges, it ultimately benefits the company’s long-term development. By returning to the original intent of setting registered capital, it not only protects the interests of creditors but also shields shareholders from the operational risks of the company.

In China’s foreign investment landscape, while most FIEs exercise commercial prudence in determining registered capital—factoring in capital expenditures, operational costs, and setting aside surplus funds—some opt for higher registered capital levels to avoid future capital increase procedures. This typically involves lengthy document signing and registration changes, lasting 1-2 months.

Joint ventures (JVs) often impose stricter payment deadlines for registered capital in their articles of association to ensure both parties’ simultaneous contributions align with operational needs. Conversely, wholly foreign-owned enterprises (WFOEs) tend to favor flexibility in payment deadlines, often allowing full payment before the company’s operational period expires.

Given these circumstances, despite the generally stronger capital adequacy among foreign companies compared to domestic entities, many FIEs could be affected by the new capital contribution rules.

This article is republished from China Briefing. Read the rest of the original article.

China Briefing is written and produced by Dezan Shira & Associates. The practice assists foreign investors into China and has done since 1992 through offices in Beijing, Tianjin, Dalian, Qingdao, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Suzhou, Guangzhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong. Please contact the firm for assistance in China at china@dezshira.com.

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Foreign Tourist Groups on Cruise Ships Fully Permitted Visa-Free Entry in China

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China will allow visa-free entry for foreign tourist groups arriving by cruise ship at 13 ports along the coast, starting May 15, 2024. Visitors must stay with the same ship and in permitted areas for up to 15 days. This policy aims to boost tourism and facilitate high-quality development in the cruise industry.


China’s immigration agency announced that it will grant a visa-free policy for foreign tourist groups to enter China by cruise at all cruise ports along the coast of China, starting May 15, 2024. The tourist group must remain with the same cruise ship until its next port of call and stay within permitted areas for no more than 15 days.

Effective May 15, 2024, the National Immigration Administration (NIA) has officially implemented a visa-free policy for foreign tourist groups entering China via cruise ships. This progressive move aims to enhance personnel exchanges and foster cooperation between China and other nations, furthering the country’s commitment to high-level openness.

Under this policy, foreign tourist groups, comprising two or more individuals, who travel by cruise ship and are organized by Chinese domestic travel agencies, can now enjoy visa-free entry as a cohesive group at cruise ports in 13 cities along the Chinese coast.

The tourist group must remain with the same cruise ship until its next port of call and stay within China for no more than 15 days. The eligible areas for this policy are coastal provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities) and Beijing.

Furthermore, to support cruise tourism development, seven additional cruise ports—Dalian, Lianyungang, Wenzhou, Zhoushan, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Beihai—have been included as applicable ports for visa-free transit.

The recent implementation of the visa-free policy for foreign tourist groups entering China via cruise ships is poised to have several significant effects. The policy will provide crucial support for the cruise economy and the overall cruise industry. By facilitating smoother travel for foreign tourist groups, it acts as a catalyst for high-quality development in this sector.

Additionally, under this policy, international cruise companies can strategically plan their global routes by designating Chinese port cities, such as Shanghai, Xiamen, and Shenzhen, as docking destinations. This move is expected to attract more cruise ships to Chinese ports, ultimately bringing in a larger number of international visitors to the Chinese market.

This article is republished from China Briefing. Read the rest of the original article.

China Briefing is written and produced by Dezan Shira & Associates. The practice assists foreign investors into China and has done since 1992 through offices in Beijing, Tianjin, Dalian, Qingdao, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Suzhou, Guangzhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong. Please contact the firm for assistance in China at china@dezshira.com.

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China’s New Tariff Law: Streamlining and Standardizing Current Tariff Regulations

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China’s new Tariff Law consolidates import and export duties, clarifies rules for imposing counter-tariffs, and sets a December 1, 2024 effective date. It codifies existing practices on cross-border e-commerce and rules on the origin of goods into law, impacting trade relations.


China’s new Tariff Law consolidates rules on import and export duties that were previously implemented via several legal documents and makes important clarifications and additions to prior regulations. Among other changes, it stipulates provisions for the Chinese government to impose counter-tariffs on imported goods, codifying these powers into law for the first time. We outline all the notable updates to the China Tariff Law and discuss the implications for the country’ current trade relations. 

On April 26, 2024, the National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s legislature, adopted the Tariff Law of the People’s Republic of China (the “Tariff Law”) after several rounds of revisions.

The new Tariff Law will replace the Import and Export Tariff Regulations of the People’s Republic of China, which fall under the purview of the State Council, and adopts many of its provisions.

Previously, Chinese law had not stipulated legislative powers to implement countervailing tariffs, although China was nonetheless able to impose counter-tariffs on trade partners through other means.

China’s new Tariff Law comes into effect on December 1, 2024.

China’s Tariff Law elevates several existing provisions and practices to the level of law. For instance, Article 3 of the Tariff Law clarifies the obligations of cross-border e-commerce platforms for tariff withholding and implementing consolidated taxation.

The Tariff Law also solidifies the rules and regulations on the origin of goods, stipulating that the application of tariff rates shall comply with the corresponding rules of origin. Although this has been previously implemented in practice, it is the first time this has been codified into law.

This article is republished from China Briefing. Read the rest of the original article.

China Briefing is written and produced by Dezan Shira & Associates. The practice assists foreign investors into China and has done since 1992 through offices in Beijing, Tianjin, Dalian, Qingdao, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Suzhou, Guangzhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong. Please contact the firm for assistance in China at china@dezshira.com.

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