This summer's Olympic Games are frequently cast as a coming out party for the world's fastest growing economy. It's not a bad metaphor. Like a lanky teenager trying to master a rapidly maturing body, China can appear a jumble of contradictions--at once aggressive and defensive, and brimming with potential.
Although China's economic ascendancy is undisputed, its insular culture has already made it something of an awkward host. Wary of foreigners and sensitive to criticism, China has struggled to manage ongoing international protests regarding the Tibet situation while trying to put its best face forward for the Games.
Dan Harris, a partner at Harris & Moure in Seattle and editor of the China Law Blog, says he's been getting calls from people who have been kicked out of the country and are desperate to get back in to run their own companies.
For his own purposes, Harris usually travels on a one-year, unlimited entry visa. "They're just not giving those anymore," he cautions. "You have to get a new visa every time, and it's very difficult to get one for more than 30 days."
"The Chinese are protecting IP for their own sake, not to appease us anymore. That phase is over," he concludes. "They send people to jail on the first offense now for counterfeit violations. We don't do that. I see Chinese feeling more and more confident of themselves."