Lawyers Go Global – Go Guangzhou
The mission trip to Guangzhou (Mission) was the inaugural trip of Lawyers Go Global which took place from 8 to 12 April 2018. Thirty practising lawyers with varying seniority and expertise joined this four-day trip, led by the President of the Law Society, Mr Gregory Vijayendran.
This Mission aims to provide participants with a macroeconomic outlook of China (eg, the challenges faced and the legal landscape in Guangzhou and Guangdong), as well as networking opportunities with lawyers from the Guangdong Bar Association.
Day One (8 April 2018)
Upon arrival, we were welcomed by our local tour guide as well as good weather! Within the 45-minute journey, we mastered practical tips from our tour guide on how to stay safe, places to visit and the delicacies to try in Guangzhou.
Participants were required to use WeChat as the de facto mode of communications as WhatsApp was blocked in China. WeChat is an all-in-one application that houses messaging, social media and payment functions. As tech-savvy Singaporeans, it did not take us long to learn how to use this new application.
After a quick freshen up in the hotel, participants were whisked away for an evening of rest and relaxation. First stop was dinner at one of Guangzhou’s famous Cantonese restaurant, Bingsheng Pinwei Restaurant where we were introduced to local Cantonese cuisine. Dinner was a lively affair where participants mingled and got to know one another.
With satisfied stomachs, we adjourned for a 70-minute cruise along Pearl River, the third largest river in China. The route took us through iconic and breathtaking sights such as Canton Tower, Guangzhou Bridge and Haixinsha Bridge etc. A relaxing post-dinner activity indeed! The beautiful photographs included in this article would better depict the experience of this cruise.
Day Two (9 April 2018)
Visit to Sino-Singapore Guangzhou Knowledge City
Sino-Singapore Guangzhou Knowledge Centre (SSGKC) is a joint project by Guangdong and Singapore which was launched in 2010 to serve as a model for economic transformation and industrial upgrading.1For more information on SSGKC, please visit their website at http://www.ssgkc.com/P02_01.asp (last accessed 4 June 2018). The master developer of SSGKC is Sino-Singapore Guangzhou Knowledge City Investment & Development Co Ltd which is a 50-50 joint venture between Guangzhou Development District Administrative Committee and Ascendas-Singbridge.
The session began with the opening address by both Mr Gregory Vijayendran and the Deputy Director-General of GKC Development and Construction Office, Mr Cheston Xu. Thereafter, Chief Executive Officer of SSGKC, Mr Ng Kok Siong and Regional Director of Enterprise Singapore, Ms Pamela Tang shared with us on GKC development plans as well as an overview and strategy for Guangdong respectively. Ms Tang also shared about the Singapore-Guangdong bilateral relations.
Senior Vice-President of the Industry Development Team, Mr Nee Pai Chee brought us on a guided tour of One Hub, Singapore Manufacturer Innovation Centre and ACE Singapore Centre.
We were also privileged to be first to visit the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) in GKC. The IPO has three main functions namely consulting, training and evaluation. Mr Xu Bo from IPO also shared about the processes of registering for a patent in China.
Day 3 (10 April 2018)
Visit to Guangdong Lawyers Association
In October 2017, the Law Society of Singapore (Law Society) has entered into a cooperation agreement with the Guangdong Lawyers Association. This visit to the Guangdong Lawyers Association therefore serves as a reciprocal visit to have dialogues on subjects of mutual interests. Both the Law Society and Guangdong Lawyers Association exchanged ideas and had fruitful discussions on topics such as legal trends and development, Belt and Road initiative, training programmes for lawyers as well as ideas for collaboration between the Law Society and Guangdong Lawyers Association.
Despite time constraints, conversations continued during the lunch hosted by the Guangdong Lawyers Association. We were overwhelmed by the hospitality extended to us by the Guangdong Lawyers Association and we look forward to the next opportunity to host them in Singapore.
Sharing Session on Investment Risks and Prevention in People’s Republic of China by Mr Kevin Zhang, Partner of Kingpound Law Firm
Mr Zhang shared with participants the importance of understanding business norms and practices before doing business in China. He also explained further on the types of investments in China as well as risks associated with policy, management matters, legal representatives, intellectual property and employment.
Tea Networking Session
This networking session was attended by Law Society’s participants as well as approximately 30 lawyers from Guangdong. This networking session had no hard-and-fuss agenda and encouraged free-flowing conversations amongst the attendees.
Day 4 (11 April 2018)
Visit to Higher People’s Court of Guangdong Province
First stop of the day was a visit to the Higher People’s Court of Guangdong Province. Representatives from the Court facilitated a tour for us around their premises including the lawyers’ lounge which was their equivalent of our Bar Room. There was also a room with facilities for litigants-in-person, as well as an exhibition area documenting the developments of the Court.
The President of Higher People’s Court of Guangdong Province hosted the Law Society’s delegation and shared about the legal system in China to help participants understand their legal system and processes. Participants also took the opportunity and asked questions in relation to arbitration matters as well as courts processes for specialised matters such as maritime disputes.
Visit to Guangdong General Chamber of Commerce
Before the closing dinner, we made a final stop at Guangdong General Chamber of Commerce (GGCC).2For more information on GGCC, please visit their website at http://www.ggcc.org.cn/index.aspx (last accessed 4 June 2018). GGCC plays a vital role in the Belt and Road initiative and is a membership driven organisation with three main functions: business and commerce, providing support to promote members’ products and providing support to major events.
Participants were given a tour of GGCC’s premises and also shown how GGCC conducted their own mediation services and arbitration court, which was quite impressive. We learnt that GGCC placed high importance on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as they believed in exercising responsible behaviour even as the organisation goes through internationalisation in order to achieve a competitive edge. There were also discussions on potential collaborations in relation to the Belt and Road initiative with the intent to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes.
Closing Networking Dinner
The Mission concluded on a high note at the closing dinner, hosted by the Law Society. As a gesture of appreciation, the Law Society extended invitations to representatives of SSGKC and Guangdong Lawyers Association. Chatters and laughter continued to liven up the atmosphere as we gradually concluded the final day of the Mission. Mr Vijayendran also gave a short and succinct thank you speech drawing analogy from a famous Chinese proverb by Confucius “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” and further elaborated that this Mission served as an advancement for everyone in practical ways.
This Mission not only opened doors to knowledge and potential opportunities in Guangzhou but it also provided a remarkable platform for Law Society’s participants to know one another in a different setting. The Law Society would like to take this opportunity to express its appreciation to participants, Enterprise Singapore, Ministry of Law and SunCaged Consulting.
Comments from Participants
“It was a huge privilege to be part of the inaugural mission to Guangzhou. It was indeed eye-opening to see the numerous developments, including the Guangzhou Knowledge City, which have transformed the city and to experience the energy and zeal of its people. The opportunity to interact with the judiciary and lawyers of Guangzhou during the mission was also invaluable and it has already led to new connections being made with some of the lawyers I met.
Personally, the trip was also momentous because many generations ago, my forefathers left Guangzhou to seek new opportunities in faraway countries such as Singapore; I have now made the journey to Guangzhou for the same reason.”
Bernard Yee, Director, ResourceLaw, in alliance with ReedSmith
“Legal globalisation: Go, Glow, Grow!”
Jenny Lai, Sole-Proprietor, Jenny Lai & Co
“The Mission to Guangzhou provided a platform to link up with our legal counterparts in China and offered insights into emerging business opportunities that I can share with my clients. It is a stepping stone for me to enhance my international connectivity and cultural awareness to stay relevant in an increasingly globalised legal market.”
Kelvin Koh, Associate Director, TSMP Law Corporation
About Lawyers Go Global
Launched in April 2018, Lawyers Go Global is a concerted effort by Enterprise Singapore, Ministry of Law and the Law Society of Singapore. Lawyers Go Global programme aims to connect Singapore legal expertise with global opportunities via three aspects: overseas missions trips, trainings as well as branding and marketing. It also aims to help Singapore strengthen its position as an international legal hub.
The Law Society will continue to organise mission trips to achieve objectives in line with Lawyers Go Global. For enquiries on Lawyers Go Global, please email [email protected].