Who is Chris Devonshire-EllisA couple weeks back I wrote a rather exhaustive (at least for me) post for CNET Asia titled “Human flesh search engines — crowd-sourcing ‘justice’“. In it I called the human flesh search engines a “rather uniquely Chinese phenomenon”.

I’d like to rescind that statement. Rather, I’d like to adjust it to say a “rather uniquely China-related phenomenon”. I suppose human flesh searches, acts of vigilante investigation into revealing the personal and presumed “private” details of an individual for some sort of mob justice, happen the world over. However, it seems it’s here in China they flourish.

Until recently, the only human flesh search that I had heard of to attack foreigners was the racy and recurring case of the Chinabounder – a (former?) expat in Shanghai who made news with his blog posts about banging the locals.

Two nights ago I was fiddling around with my new MacBook in bed (yeah, yeah) and saw the following tweet on Twitter:

“Underbelly of China blogging. Threats, accusations, scandal. You must read the comments & follow the links too. http://is.gd/imE6.”

The link takes you to a post called “Who is Chris Devonshire-Ellis?” at Wang Jianshuo’s excellent blog. From there, it was a slippery slide into the muddy realm where investigative journalism meets full-on character assassination.

Jianshuo’s post was spurred by some off-topic comments on an old post of his that were alleged to be libelous and defamatory towards Chris Devonshire-Ellis. Upon blogging about the exchange, and the e-mails he had received to delete the comments, Jianshuo then received phone calls from Chris’ lawyer demanding he take down the posts that spoke negative of Chris.

Let me interject that I don’t know Chris personally, but have been around this scene long enough to know who he is and to have digitally brushed shoulders with him. I have met friends and foes of his, but truly have no opinion or experience with him as a person.

Chris, for those that don’t know, is the founder and Senior Partner of Dezan Shira & Associates; and publisher of China Briefing, 2point6billion and China Expat.

Reading through the comments at Jianshuo’s blog, I noticed a link to a post at the Fear of a Red Planet blog called “Chris Devonshire-Ellis is NOT a lawyer . . . .“. Hard for that not to pique anyone’s interest, and with the wife now snoring softly beside me, I figured what the hell – lets see where this rabbit hole goes.

The post, from November 2008, does what’s on the box – brashly states and goes to some lengths to prove Chris isn’t a lawyer. After reading it though, I was inclined to ask myself: “Hold on a minute! Did he ever purport to be a lawyer?”

In short, kind of yes he did/does.

This ALA article [pdf] [alt. link] about a member’s trip to China calls him a lawyer directly. Granted, perhaps the author just got it wrong (happens all the time, believe it or not). But then the question does creep up – why would she think it in the first place? Perhaps it’s Chris’ LinkedIn page, which while never stating he is a lawyer, very clearly gives that impression (see this and this screen shot – highlighting added).

Or maybe, but not likely, the writer stumbled across this old archived version of Dezan Shira’s Web site which insinuates their group Chairman and CEO received a law degree from the University of Strathclyde.

Perhaps, and more likely, she was just reading materials produced by Dezan Shira themselves and came across this Investment Guide To Beijing, Tianjin and North China [pdf] [alt. link] from 2005, which states:

Regional Partner

Our Regional (and Senior) Partner is Chris Devonshire-Ellis, one of China’s most experienced lawyers with over sixteen years PRC experience. He is supported by our Regional team of Accountants and Business Registrations Managers.

(screen capture)

Or this HK Institute of Certified Public Accountants endorsed Info Cite 2004 course book [alt. link], which describes Chris thusly:

Chris Devonshire-Ellis. Senior Partner, Dezan Shira & Associates, Beijing. Chris is one of China’s longest serving lawyers with some 16 years China experience and is the founder of Dezan Shira & Associates, China’s largest independent tax consultants, as well as publisher of the acclaimed “China Briefing” magazines and books. Chris arranges effective Joint Venture and Wholly Foreign Owned Enterprise tax structures and profits repatriation at the pre-incorporation planning stage in addition to servicing other legal, contractual and tax issues for Dezan Shira’s clients – over 1,000 international small-medium enterprises from some 52 different countries. He is based in Beijing.

(screen capture)

NOTE: The above sources were discovered by commentators at the FOARP post mentioned above. All credit and critique belongs to them.

So, the big question that remains – after sorting out that Chris isn’t a lawyer, despite being quite content to let the professional community believe he is – where’s the harm? I honestly can’t say. With no intentions of using Dezan Shira’s services, I’ve no axe to grind with them, nor do I feel as a company they wouldn’t do a good job in the advisory role in which they market themselves as.

In addition, I know that Dezan Shira does have a number of lawyers on staff (like, real ones) and have found no evidence that they have any unsatisfied customers – bar maybe this guy.

Truthfully, I wish the company all the best. On top of that, whatever his “official” qualifications are, consultants are consultants and advice is advice – caveat emptor and all that. Chris has been in China almost as long as I’ve been out of primary school, and the success of his businesses here does account for something.

Additionally, perceived as a lawyer or not, I doubt that Chris would have ever actually passed himself off in a professional capacity as a lawyer, and likely has only used such “presumption” for marketing his business and perhaps stroking his ego a bit. And what’s marketing if not the exploitation of the public’s assumptions? And what’s a successful business without a large ego at the helm?

And lest we forget, this is China. Laowai have been reinventing themselves in this country since Marco Polo pretended he was a senior official in Kublai’s court.

So, why post about it at all? Why, when I don’t have a personal stake in it (I’m not a client, a jaded business partner, a competitor, or anything else to Chris or his businesses), post about a person who has a history of going to great lengths to protect his image (false or not) online? Why put myself in a situation like poor Wang Jianshuo, who has been hassled with phone calls to remove his posts because they contain comments (not by Jianshuo) that are unflattering. Why, like some have reported, open myself to the possibility of receiving threatening e-mails telling me to take this down or else?

Well, in part because I believe in truth, and believe that truth should not be bullied from the light by men with means or power. But that’s a bit self-righteous.

I also mention this because it’s topical and entertaining in a voyeuristic sort of way. It’s interesting to see how far people will go to prove a point – as reference, check out FOARP’s recent post, and previous comments, about a China Briefing entry by Chris that toes the ethical line between making a point about business and using a tragic terror attack to promote your services.

But perhaps most of all, I am inspired to post this because I like Wang Jianshuo’s blog and it pisses me off that Chris would use the comments there to ask the moronic question: “Are indeed, the Chinese ready for such freedoms of expression?” in a 2point6billion post.

Chris tries to turn what is essentially some schoolyard name calling into a grandiose image of the fearful things to come. Using attacks, true or not, on him to justify the repression of a people’s liberty.

There are even somewhat disingenous attempts to justify such comments. Posted after libellous statements appeared on a Chinese blog run by a Mr. Wang Jian Shuo, justification not to remove such comments appeared as follows:

“I always use the rule set by Martin-Lurther King: people should be judged by their characters instead of anything else. I don’t delete any post because it is posted by foreigners, Chinese, black, yellow. The only guideline is, it is the right or wrong comment. I won’t delete any comments just because he/she is foreigner, or leave a comment there just because he/she is a foreigner.”

Apparently it’s OK to libel ‘foreigners’ and not remove offensive posts about them because, well, this is China, it’s a Chinese blog, and they are ‘foreigners’. So thats all right then. One rule for China, another for everyone else in the blogosphere. Or so Martin Luther King is supposed to endorse. It’s corrupt, and not a little sly.

The MLK quote was written on Jianshuo’s blog to explain his comment-removing policy. He very clearly states that he doesn’t remove comments based on anything other than whether it is right or wrong. How then does Chris twist that into some “us” verses “them” diatribe about MLK endorsing Chinese xenophobia and racism?

Thoughts? And, please, keep them un-libelous — I don’t have much credit on my mobile.

UPDATE – Feb 12, 2009

As can be seen below, there are 70-some-odd comments on this thread. Due to the fact I’ve received legal threats from Chris Devonshire-Ellis as well as threats stating he will attempt to have this site blocked in China (being that he’s buddies with the vice minister of MIIT – see his site for the official palm squeeze) I’ve decided to take the comments down.

This was not an easy decision, and I held out on doing so for as long as I could. I have a strong belief that people should have the voice and forum to speak on whatever topic they desire. However, the tipping point in my decision was that ultimately the comments were not about this post; instead they were a long, long collection of complaints about Chris and his business. And though some of them are very likely true – as they were not all refuted in several comments Chris himself gave – some were no doubt untrue. And though “untrue opinions” about a public figure is a long way from “libel”, Chris doesn’t seem to see it that way.

As much as I’d love to be a beacon of free speech, I don’t have the time or wherewithal to deal with Chris’ threats nor can I guess what is true and what isn’t – apparently an ability Chris believes I hold, as he refused on every occasion I asked for him to simply tell me which comments were libelous so I could remove them. He never did.

If you posted a comment, for which ever side of this debate, I thank you and I’m sorry. I still have all the comments and would be happy to provide you with the text of your comment if you’d like to post it elsewhere. Also, trackbacks and pingbacks are still open on this thread, so you’re welcome, and encouraged to use your own blog to voice your thoughts on this issue and trackback here to have a link to your post displayed.

UPDATE – Nov 2, 2016

Recently it came to my attention that Chris Devonshire-Ellis has written about myself (and several other writers that had been publicly critical of him) as well as this blog post on his personal blog (screenshot). For 7 years the notice below had appeared here in place of this post. At the time, Chris had begun to harass me and threatened to use what clout he had with Chinese officials to cause problems for me and this site. Not wishing to get in a scrum with someone who, whatever his faults, clearly had deeper relationships and pull than I; I removed the post. With that, I had felt the issue was closed, but despite leaving China several years ago, apparently Chris did not. In his recent post (dated April 1, 2016), he mis-represents this post (and by extension, myself) as advocating the tracking down of his daughter. While Chris’ daughter is mentioned in the comments below, first by him and then by others questioning if he actually has a daughter, no comment says anything about trying to physically track her down, as he alleges. So, as the original content of the post was never legitimately contested, and the comments are now being referenced by Chris, I feel it is necessary to repost the original post and all its comments. Comments, however, are closed to new submissions.

The original notice, which had sat in place of this post for the past 7 years.

NOTICE: Unfortunately, due to threats of legal action by Chris Devonshire-Ellis, this post and its comments have been taken down.

Though I am confident that the contents of the article are not in any way libelous, as Ellis claims, his threats did not limit themselves to seeking a court decision on whether or not they were libelous. Instead they indicated that Chris would personally attempt to get this site blocked in China and have myself and the other authors of this blog harassed by the local PSB (under the allegation that we are in some way acting as “investigative journalists” by blogging about being expats in China).

Though it pains me to remove it, I also feel whatever truth was in the original post is not worth the hassle and headache Ellis promised to make of it. I do however feel it is my responsibility to post this notice to let all our readers know what happened to this post. Please accept our apologies.


  1. I don’t know anything about this guy either, aside from what I’ve heard — and hearsay shouldn’t play into this equation, as much as it might color my or anyone else’s opinion.

    Opinions aside, I have brushed shoulders with China Expat once, and that was regarding some of my content copied & pasted on their site. But after a two or three tedious emails, I brushed the dirt off afore-mentioned shoulders and moved on to other things. Battlestar Gallactica is not going to watch itself, after all.

  2. Funny how libel threats against old comment threads that would otherwise be buried in the tubes, tend to only open old wounds. Good to see the practice in question demonstrating their understanding of blogs and new media.. good luck in China guys!

  3. Nice analysis of the LinkedIn site, but what I find most interesting about it is that it lists his degrees as an LLB (isn’t that a law degree?) in law and theocracy, but it never mentions where he got the degree. Is it because he does not want anyone to be able to go to that university to find out either that he never went there or something (what?) else about him? Did anyone out there go to university with this guy?

  4. VERY interesting article, this coming from someone who has never brushed shoulders physically or digitally with any persons mentioned.

    But considering all the links and reading involved with this post I have to say – you have way too much time on your hands! (or at least you must not sleep)

  5. Chris Devonshire-Ellis threatened me a while back when I did a post comparing an article from the Economist Magazine and a post (since taken down) on China Briefing and not finding many differences. I ended up dropping my post so as to not have to deal with him any further and I know of at least two other China bloggers (China Esquire and Silicon Hutong) who have gone through similar situations with Mr. Ellis. As far as I can tell, nearly everything written about him has been by foreigners/expats, making all the more disconcerting his linking all this to claims that China is not ready for freedom.

  6. @Mark – Law degrees in the UK are designated LLB (not so in the US?).

    @Ryan – I’ll admit that my motivation for writing that post was somewhat similar to yours for writing this. I had heard about CDE from Sinocidal, and with a bit of checking found that comment on Wang Jianshuo’s blog and then it all started to snow ball. The fact is, he does encourage a false image of himself, he has made claims about possessing qualifications which he does not have, he does allow people to refer to him as a lawyer. Then I started to receive emails from people who had been hassled by him, and that really got my goat.

    Now, I’ll admit, the guy does appear to have a good deal of enemies, and some of the things written about him seem to be pure mud-slinging. I don’t encourage any of this kind of commentary – but he hasn’t denied any of it. I also didn’t ask anyone to go digging around for information on him – but I cannot say that what was found was not interesting. Finally, he is someone who is paid to give advice at least partially on the basis of the qualifications he claims to have.

    Voyeurism? I don’t know. His statements are all available on line, and the evidence necessary to contradict them is all online also. I’m sure he would rather people didn’t pry, but this doesn’t actually mean that his privacy is being invaded.

    I guess the real lesson is that long-term it is just impossible to get away with lying about your qualifications online, and that if you do it is bound to catch you up eventually. It is Chris’s defensiveness that is costing him here, the more he hassles people to remove content pointing out his untruths, the more he actually highlights those untruths.

    Chris – if you feel you’ve been dealt with unfairly, you can still send me an email at fearofaredplanet@yahoo.co.uk .

  7. @Rick: I remember that – seems somewhat on par with what Dan is saying about the Economist article.

    @Mark and FOARP:

    LLB – Refers to Bachelor of Laws, the term used throughout much of the English-speaking world (though not the United States, where the term Juris Doctor is broadly used) to refer to the academic degree leading to professional practice in law. The LL.B is most often a three-year degree pursued after the completion of an undergraduate / bachelor’s degree. Possession of an LL.B. or J.D. degree is a requirement for candidacy for the bar association or law society, and often for participation in an LL.M. program. (source)

    @Josh: Haha, for me it was mostly just a whole lot of copy and pasting. The boys at FOARP did the heavy lifting.

    @FOARP: My honest to goodness opinion on the whole thing is that CDE simply built a business around a lie and then wasn’t able to take it back. I can’t count the number of teachers I’ve met here who have lied about their qualifications, that it happens in other industries doesn’t surprise me.

    I absolutely agree that it’s the way that he’s dealt with the situation that has largely gotten him to the point where whatever his credentials are in the real world, online he’s perceived by most as a thin-skinned bully.


    I really do think though that whether he has a law degree or not is way beside the point. We all know just how little we actually know fresh out of college or university. Piece of paper or not, it’s the real world that gives us the knowledge and know-how to do the things we are able to do. If Chris can give good legal advice without a 25-year-old piece of paper saying he can practice law, I see absolutely nothing wrong with that.

    However, if he is lying about his qualifications, my only worry would be that if he can lie about some things, why wouldn’t he lie about others.

    I echo FOARP’s comment:

    I guess the real lesson is that long-term it is just impossible to get away with lying about your qualifications online, and that if you do it is bound to catch you up eventually. It is Chris’s defensiveness that is costing him here, the more he hassles people to remove content pointing out his untruths, the more he actually highlights those untruths.

    Chris’ organization(s) seem to have a decent handle on what new media is all about, as they use it voraciously to promote their business. But they’re missing the boat on what social media is and the effects it can have. That sense of becoming part of a community, and part of a conversation.

  8. In Mr. Ellis’s defense, I think it only fair that I pass on here what he sent to me via email when I asked him about why an old version of his company’s website listed him as having a degree from London University:

    “The archive dates from 2001 and was amended precisely because it was incorrect. The site at the time was in relative unsophisticated infancy and had been actually compiled and put up online by an intern, if I recall. When it emerged data was wrong, it was corrected. That is reasonable behavior. There are no claims that are publicly available that I attended “ London University”. (In fact I’m not even sure if there is such an institution) and I have not made any other statements to have done so. If I had intended to deceive, it would be on my profiles elsewhere. But it isn’t.”

  9. His representatives apparently threatened ShanghaiExpat.com because members had posted negative comments about him and / or his company. At present, if one tries to post on ShanghaiExpat the name of the website that he owns, ShanghaiExpat’s system automatically censors the name. I know this because someone tried to start a thread asking whether anybody reads china-briefing.com on the forum. When he couldn’t post the name, he wrote it as “china – briefing”, and asked why the other iteration wouldn’t display. A moderator explained that their site now treats “china-briefing” as it would an explative because of the prior threats of legal action. Unfortunately, Shanghai Expat has since deleted the thread in which this was discussed; however, if you go to ShanghaiExpat and search “china – briefing”, you’ll see that Google archived part of the original post.

    Whether he has attorneys working for him or not misses the point. Anyone who knowingly creates or perpetuates (whether through action or inaction) a false belief that he or she is an attorney is misrepresenting him / herself. Based on such misrepresentation, it is fair to question the validity of any and all of their work.

  10. Yes, I’ve met him in person (far too often) and he *very much* leads people on to think that he is more than what he is. That being said, I’ve also had many friends who have used his services only to find the information false/useless (or simply copied/pasted). Perhaps its simply that his enemies are more vocal. Certainly, trying to make a marketing move out of tragedy is always disgusting, even more so when not warranted ;p


    Just to nip this in in the bud – going forward, any anonymous comments will be deleted.

    I believe and support that every person has the right to say their piece, but I don’t feel anyone should take up talking about someone else while hiding behind anonymity. If you’re going to speak about this issue – grow a pair and put your name to it.

    I’m also not looking for any legal issues to arise from this – so know that your comments are your responsibility, and if you post libel, your name, e-mail and IP address may be required to be surrendered.

    I’ve seen a number of these conversations turn into stupid mudslinging matches, and that’s not going to happen here. If you have facts, link to them or otherwise stand behind them with your name and contact information.

  12. I’ve met Chris a couple of times in person. Robust sort of character. Shorter than I imagined. Seemed reluctant to get into conversation on current affairs, didn’t really strike up a conversation.

    Not that it matters. I’m sure building a business in China in 1992 was not easy, especially a service-related business when registration for many business scopes was less than easy. At that he’s succeeded and is now trying to do the same in India, also a challenge.

    What matters most, and what I’d attribute to the company’s success, is the people he has working for him. The local office I know employs good people and has built a generally strong operation precisely because of these people.

    It’s worth pointing out that no foreigner is allowed to practice law or accountancy in China no matter how many other countries they’re passed the bar in, and I understand Dezan Shira do not do so.

    It is a fact they have taken content and passed it off as their own several times and from several sources. For a company whose main business is giving other companies advice that’s poor due diligence and internal QA, whether blamed on an intern or not.

  13. @Ryan, “If Chris can give good legal advice without a 25-year-old piece of paper saying he can practice law, I see absolutely nothing wrong with that.”

    Being a lawyer, I absolutely disagree with your statement. Like doctors, lawyers are professionals and we must pass a rigorous bar exam to be admitted to practice law not to mention that we’d have to adhere to a set of strict ethical standards (for example, how to properly handle client funds) to maintain good standing.

    Without board certification (for doctors) or bar admission (for lawyers), there would not be any standard by which a client can judge if a doctor or a lawyer has minimum level of competency to practice his/her trade.

    That said, self taught lawyers do exist, but these cases are extremely rare. I know of one law professor who was admitted to the bar without ever attending law school, but that’s after years of extensive legal related experience (without holding himself out as a lawyer!).

    In most cases, people practicing law without a license are poorly trained and are not qualified. If they were, they’d probably already sat the bar somewhere and be admitted.

  14. @Kate: Perhaps it’s my own, admitted, ignorance over what “practicing law” entails. I am only saying that legal advice doesn’t necessarily need to come from a lawyer, as I view this as different than actually practicing law – which I, perhaps wrongly, assumed to mean going to a court of some kind.

    Is it required that legal advice come from a lawyer? I realize this likely differs from country to country, but as a general rule?

  15. This chestnut again. And again, and again. To be honest, I disapprove of this “trial by blog” phenomena. However, let me perhaps make some points. I am only going to comment this once:
    1) Dezan Shira & Associates is not a law practice. We are a licensed tax practice in China and are in full compliance with all legal requirements as laid down by Chinese law;
    2) We do provide some legal services, mainly administrative, in accordance within the remit of our buisness license;
    3) We have a significant in-house team of expatriate and Chinese lawyers who handle such work;
    4) I personally fulfill all legal requirements to act both as Senior Partner and the Legally Responsible Person in China to fulfill my duties within the firm;
    5) I am however, not the Managing Partner for China, my colleague Alberto Vettoretti is; my responsibilities these days focus on our India Practice development;
    6) As far as I can recall, we have never had any compliants against plagarism within our media business (a company we have maintained now publishing – for free – business information about China for the past ten years)
    7) If anyone has, they may direct such comments to Andy Scott, the Managing Editor at andy.scott@china-briefing.com
    8) If anyone has any issues as concerns my own capabilities, they may either take them up with the appropriate licensing authorities in China and make an official complaint, or if they feel they have justifiable legal complaint against me, they may issue a writ and have it out with me in court; litigation lawyers may contact me at my website address which is quite visible at http://www.dezshira.com
    9) Neither myself nor any of my businesses have ever been sued in China;
    10) We however have had occasion to instruct lawyers when things get a bit out of hand in peoples behavior towards us; we have issued writs against one or two of our competitors in the past. Some bad blood and grudges do exist against us as a consequence;
    11) There are other direct competitors (some of whom I see have posted above) for whom attempts to either attack me personally or my firm are in their best interests;
    12) Internet commentary of the type which concentrates on delving into a persons credibility, includes the posting of defamatory material, the using of anonymous names or public domain email accounts are deliberately introduced as a means to ensure such content appears high of search engine rankings when my name is typed in, and is a current problem with the structure of the internet; such comment is notoriously difficult to remove.
    13) If comment appears that is defamatory then our lawyers are instructed to take action to have it removed. I do so to protect my business, and the several hundred staff that I am responsible for. It is my responsibility to do so.
    14) Jealously over another businesses success is rampant, and in China especially, and gives rise to people for whom their only response is hate. This is a sad fact of expatriate life in China.
    15) Anyone wanting to review what I do and have been responsible for can view this, which we posted over a year ago in response to this on-going campaign: http://www.china-briefing.com/news/2008/03/24/setting-the-record-straight.html
    16) We try and maintain a social presence in China, and do try to keep it low key. Both myself and my practice donate quite a significant amount to charity. I’d rather not demonstrate this, as I prefer to be quiet about this. But as so much has been produced here that is deliberately twisted, here’s another side of the coin with three examples:
    17) I run a successful business in China, but I do try and assist other SME’s and people understand and develop themselves here also. Much of it is free. All of the following material, which I ultimately pay for, is available to business people and expatriates – free of charge. From me, with respect:
    China Briefing Magazine: http://www.china-briefing.com (in six languages)
    China Briefing Daily News: http://www.china-briefing.com/news
    China Expat: http://www.chinaexpat.com
    Emerging Asia: http://www.2point6billion.com
    India Briefing: http://www.india-briefing.com
    Vietnam Briefing: http://www.vietnam-briefing.com
    Emerging Communism: http://www.communisttaxlawyer.com
    Mongolia Expat: http://www.mongoliaexpat.com (being revamped shortly)

    Meanwhile, my practice has assisted over 2,000 multinational businesses in China, pays a considerable amount of tax (as do I) and provides employment for several hundred Chinese people and their families as well as a large number of expats.

    There’s little else I can do other than to keep doing what I am – building and developing my business, giving something back, and helping the business community as much as I can. It saddens me that there are others who would seek to try and diminish that in their own selfish interests. But this is China, and I guess its perhaps best that such venom is at least directed at me, when I can handle it. However, a word for those that seek to wriet defamatory material about other people online or seek to use other peoples blogs as a means to try and discredit your competitors:

    How would you like it when your 12 year old daughter reads some of that?

    I’ve had my say I think. If anyone REALLY has any issues with me then please take it up with the appropriate legal authorities. It’s really that simple, and they are a more appropriate place for any legitimate complaints. Trial by blog is not really on.



  16. my friend worked for him. from what i hear not exactly a standup guy. they published rather nasty stuff on 2pointonebillion about her after she left. not sure if he is a lawyer or not. but that speaks for itself.

  17. @ Ryan,

    As Alex stated above, foreign lawyers are not authorized to practice law in China. However, foreign lawyers can render informal legal opinions provided they include a disclaimer clearly stating that they are not authorized to practice law in China. Many multinational companies prefer to hire foreign lawyers to help them with legal work in China because in addition to their experience in China, the foreign lawyer is likely to know the legal framework of the company’s home country and its business culture and needs etc.

    That said, I would never hire a person without a law degree to do Chinese legal work for me (unless maybe he is a self taught expert like Jane Goodall, but as you know, those are rare cases). There is too much risk otherwise and I would be mightily upset if the person misleads me on their credentials.

  18. @Alex – I guess I should also add that it is odd that commenters who I’ve never heard of and who never re-appear always seem to pop up with praise for Chris when either he or his company are under discussion. The comments under his posts on his blogs are replete with them – some of them even giving job titles, phone numbers and addresses at companies like Sun Microsystems which (surprise, surprise!) a brief search on the company website shows to be false.

    @Kate – Absolutely. There’s also the question of liability – the main reason you use a lawyer to do things like writing wills and doing property conveyancing rather than just doing it yourself is the simple fact that if they make a mistake you can sue them. As qualified professionals they can be held liable for negligent advice which an ordinary, unqualified person, could not be held liable for.

    @Ryan – Yes, some people give legal advice but are not lawyers – they are called patent or trademark agents, accountants, auditors, and tax or financial advisors – and they hold the necessary professional qualifications to do so. A lot of people expend a great deal of time, effort, and money to acheive these qualifications – but why should they bother if they could just fake it? Academic lawyers exist in a class of their own – they work entirely in an academic setting, doing research and writing essays.

  19. @Ryan – I guess I should also add that Chris has had fair opportunity to get in touch to deny what I’ve said over at my website – but has not, ever, done so.

  20. So, let’s get this right.

    A guy who builds a firm staffed with 200 or so employees (accountant/ lawyers), has built a widely read publication series, and has assisted a few thousand firms enter China successfully is supposed to publicly address whether or not he got a degree 20 years ago?

    A degree that is not a legal document in China to begin with.

    That about it?

    Perhaps if it were a client of his saying that the services he provided were not up to par, or if people were saying his books were worthless, then there would be some merit to all the posts, but their isn’t.

    Instead you have a couple of people having a cyber tantrum, people who are are clearly at a competitive disadvantage to Dezan’ s platform and are only looking to gain business by slandering him on a personal basis.

    Given Chris has a long list of clients after 15 years, and none of them (at this time) have come out to say that he provided anything but the highest level of service, the comments above have little value at all.

  21. @Personalbiz: I was wondering when the calvary was going to arrive.

    The point is about mis-representation. It’s not that he need have a degree, or really whether he got a degree in the first place (as it seems pretty clear that he didn’t). It’s that he represents himself today (as opposed to 20 years ago) as having a particular degree and/or of being something he’s not, a lawyer, to further himself and his business. It’s a, quite legitimate, issue of credibility about a public figure.

    FYI: You’ll be hard-pressed to find any slander on here, or online at all. Slander is spoken.

  22. @ Ryan – don’t misunderstand. I am not trying to defend Chris as a person, nor the fact that he has created some sour relationships.

    That is it not his clients, but his competitors, that are trying to ruin his reputation on a document that both now and 20 years ago is not even recognized in China.

    @ Ryan/ Rick – I am not a lawyer – so forgive my error of usage – but you got the point.

    @ Nedzer – no

  23. @Personalbiz –

    A foreign degree certificate is a ‘legal document’ in China, in as much as it is acceptable proof of a qualification. I note that having a valid university degree is a legal requirement for obtaining a visa in some fields. I should also add that it is a definite no-no in China to falsely claim to have a university education when filing as the Legal Person of a company with the State Administration for Industry and Commerce. Especially since such documents are part of the public record and can be read by anyone.

    As for the rest –

    1) Given what has already been said about his having made claims in the past which have been demonstrated to be untrue, how do you know that any of his claims as to staff numbers or clients are true? Unless you are Chris Devonshire-Ellis, of course.

    2) I am not a competitor of Dezan Shira, I don’t even work in China any more.

    3) If anything motivates my concern on this subject, it is exactly the ‘cyber tantrums’ which Chris seems to throw. His usual tactic is to accuse the people pointing out his untruths of defamation (without, of course, actually specifying what exactly it is they have said that is defamatory) and then demanding that the page carrying the comments be removed.

    4) You say that Dezan Shira has been in operation for 15 years, meaning that he had been in business since 1993/4 – but why then does he also claim that DZ had been in operation since 1987?


    The simple fact is that Chris has been telling lies about his qualifications and business experience (and, most pathetically, his language ability) for years – not just once or twice, but over and over.

    Chris – you are not a lawyer, you are not an accountant, you are not an auditor, you are not a tax or financial advisor, you are not a trademark agent, you are not a patent agent, you have no professional qualifications whatsoever, you are also not fluent in Chinese – as the errors you make in your posts demonstrate.

    You have claimed to be a Scottish lawyer, but here’s what the Scottish Law Society said:

    “I have checked our records and can advise that we have no one listed by the name Christopher B A Devonshire-Ellis or Ellis. I have also checked our archive records and again can find no one by this name.”

    The Scottish Bar Association said the same thing. No trace could be found of you at either the University of London or that of Strathclyde – yet you still claim to have been to both of them, at the same time, even though they are more than 400 miles apart. You must have been the world’s only undergraduate frequent flyer!

  24. @Chris – How’s about some straight answers:

    1) You claim to have been both to the University of London and the University of Strathclyde simultaneously (despite the fact that they are hundreds of miles apart) – how come all enquiries at these institutions have drawn blanks?

    2) Did your business start in 1987 or 1993? At various times (and sometimes at the same time) you have claimed both of these dates.

    3) Why did you claim that your office was damaged in the Mumbai terrorist attacks when according to the people who work at your Mumbai address you don’t actually have a permanent office in Mumbai, and the building in which you temporarily rent space when in India was undamaged?

    If someone claimed to have suffered damage to their office during the 9/11 attacks when in fact the only ‘office’ they had in New York was temporary space near JFK International, I’m pretty sure that a lot of people would be shocked and appalled. Why do you think you can get away with this just because it happened in Mumbai?

    4) Why do you claim to be fluent in Chinese when you are not – or at least you make so many obvious mistakes in speaking/writing Chinese as to make it obvious that you do not?

    5) Why did you claim to be a Scottish lawyer when neither the Scottish Bar Council nor the Scottish Law Society have any record of you having been a member?

    6) Why did you threaten Wang Jianshuo? In what way did he defame you?

    7) You have stated that you have never received any complaints of plagiarism, but this is not true, your websites have published articles copied out of the Economist as well as other publications verbatim. When asked about it, this is what you had to say:

    “Concerning the Economist piece, it was actually written by my colleague Rosario diMaggio in Guangzhou for Interfax, the Russian News agency with whom we have a publishing JV. The Economist pretty much copied it.”

    But you then took the offending article down, and there is no record of this supposed joint venture with Interfax – why?

    Chris, the above quote exposes you as a liar. When you claimed to be a Scottish lawyer, you lied. When you claimed to be an auditor, you lied also – you’re not registered as an accountant of any kind anywhere. The fact that you claim two starting dates for your company shows that you are lying about that as well – either one may be true but not both. The practical impossibility of studying full time at two universities hundreds of miles apart exposes you as a liar in this regard as well. Claiming that your Mumbai office was damaged in a terrorist attack when you don’t even have a permanent presence in the city, and the place which you use as a temporary office/letterbox was unharmed shows yet again that you have lied – in this case exploiting a tragedy for your own personal gain.

    Chris, in English law there are two pertinent defences to a claim of defamation. The first is that the alleged defamatory statement was true – and I have shown that you are, as far as it is possible for me to verify, a liar. The second is that what was said was fair commentary in the public interest based on the known facts – and I would say that, given what has been shown above, it would be both fair and in the public interest to say that no one can trust a damn thing you say.

    If, however, you still feel that any of this is defamatory, you can still contact me to point out which part so that I can remove it. I should warn you, though, that groundless accusations of defamation can themselves be defamatory.

  25. @ FOARP

    You contacted his schools and the bar associations? Wow, you really have spent some time on this.

    What did Chris do to you? Seriously, you are not going to these ends to find the truth and save foreign companies.

    As for the rest of your questions to me. I have spent about 30 minutes in total reading this post, and the numbers I used were either from this post or the others in the externally linked posts.

    Were I to have spent the amount of time you have on the issue, perhaps I would be able to be more precise, but I really just don’t have the time to work out the exact mileage and train schedules between 2 universities 20 year ago.

  26. @Personalbiz – Chris is not shy about threatening legal action against those he accuses of defaming him. For that reason, and because I have no desire to call someone out for something they did not actually do, I have been very careful to make sure I had my story straight before I went out with this.

    If, however, any of it is not true, he can deny it here and now – and he hasn’t. Go read the post above – except for the comment about not remembering ever being accused of copying the work of other’s, which is disapproved by his own comment quoted above – he doesn’t deny any of it.

    Plus – please, anyone who lives in the UK has a fair idea of how long it takes to get from Strathclyde in the east of Scotland to London. This is fairly basic maths – and however you do it it just doesn’t add up. But I don’t even need to look at that – the fact that there’s no record of him attending either of these places is good enough for me.

  27. Wow that is quite a long story from Chris on how he is protecting his image and how he thinks that any criticism on his person is an outright attack on his livelyhood. Did he use the same code of ethics when he started to write both anonymous and non-anonymous about what he considered competing firms a couple of years ago? Then he wrote anonymous emails to the British Chamber members and regulators who he asked to close down the competition? Remember digbyjones2007@hotmail.com or petergodber@hotmail.com Chris? The shit you tried to pull off and how you threatened Mr. Brown. Don’t make me laugh, you harvest what you have sown in the past. Be a man and admit you practice exactly the opposite of the saint like cultivated image you have tried to build for yourself online. Remember how you would treat ex-staff online? You certainly passed yourself for a lawyer on many occasions and in your heart you believe you are one. Marketing and outright lying seem to go hand in hand or is it just delusions of grandeur that are the culprit?

    Anyway have fun here and Chris good luck with your “ministerial meetings” the coming days. I heard from the National Development and Reform Commission that they wait with the revision of their new long term plans until you have advised them on the world economic crisis and how to counteract the new world order with Theocracy and law.

  28. Thank you Ryan for such an excellent blog (which I just discovered) and thank you for trying to get the truth out on all of this. And that is what we are trying to do here.

    Couple things right off the bat. I find it unbelievable that CDE tries to make a sympathy play by citing to a 12 year old daughter. I don’t believe CDE is married and I do not believe he has any kids either, but truthfully, I don’t know, so if anyone out there does know, I would love to hear it, but for now I put this in the same category as his his claims to a damaged office in Mumbai and his claims to have so many offices, when, as so nicely pointed out on the Fear of a Red Planet Blog, those are almost all just virtual offices he uses for their addresses. Again, maybe not a flat out lie, but why does he claim so many offices when in fact most of them appear to be nothing more than mail drops? And if someone is less than upfront on that sort of thing, should we really expect them to be upfront on the legal/tax/bookkeeping advice they might give?

    I have been trying to figure out the truth on this for quite some time and anytime someone does something to try to advance it, I jump in. Let’s just say I am friends with people who once worked for him.

  29. Ryan this is name-calling and muck raking. So lets ask YOU some questions:
    1) Is it true you are not an accredited journalist?
    2) Is it also true that you designed the website of Harris & Moure, a client of yours, who publish the ChinaLawBlog and who directly compete with Chris Devonshire-Ellis for legal media space?
    3) Doesn’t that make you compromised?
    4) What, exactly, do you think you have “proved” in this debate, and do you honestly think this is a fair and reasonable method of dealing with the subject?

  30. Just got here and read the post and all comments. Very interesting. What we essentially have here are those on the one side (FOARP being the most prominent) listing all the things about which we should be dubious of Devonshir-Ellis. Then, in the middle, we have those who don’t seem to have it in for the poor guy, but are bothered by how he threatens other bloggers. Then we have those who defend him (most of these have funny, fake sounding names) and do so by raising all sorts of bizarre secondary issues, but never directly dealing with the facts. I saw this sort of question asked on the Fear of the Red Planet blog without an answer and so I ask it here again. Is anyone out there (Devonshir-Ellis, this certainly includes you) willing to refute the FACTUAL claims being made against Mr. Devonshir-Ellis? Are there any facts out there that should make us believe he is really a decent sort after all? Cause at this point, I certainly already agree wtih those who think his threatening bloggers is way out of bounds, and I am about to side with those who think even worse.

  31. CDE’s reply was expectedly weasel-like in addressing the factual claims made against him. However, it was telling that he did not even dare bring up the Mumbai claim because he knows this is the most despicable of all of his deceptions. CDE blatantly tried to profit off the suffering and misfortune of others and people should continue to nail him on this because it is so outrageous.


  32. dcv,

    I agree with you that his claiming harm to his Mumbai office would, IF NOT TRUE, be the most outrageous thing of all, but I also think it only fair that we give him the opportunity to respond to that. I am going to email him and ask him to address that very issue on here as that more than anything else would give us the measure of the man. At the same time, I do think it premature for us to try and convict him on that, particularly since he has done so much for China, both with his charitable contributions and with his publications. So Chris, as a fan of yours, I ask you to please come on here and explain why it is that you claimed your Mumbai office was in the thick of things regarding the terrorism that occurred recently in Mumbai.

  33. The Mumbai office claim is outrageous indeed but then so are the the claims that others are bullying him and he never did anything to deserve that. He invented anonymous online bullying.

    However if you carefully read the Mumbai claim then it is clear that he was writing this stuff under the influence of delusions of grandeur. The leader standing on the ruins of a building, organizing stuff and being a hero. Having to fly there to sort things out, being very important. The person he wants to be in his fantasy became the writer of a piece about the heroic battle. Grenade shells exploding around the office, bullets flying, clients all over the place that needed to be found and rescued. Of course it also plays out as a marketing piece just looking at the title that an on ground experience is essential and he claimed he had one.

    You can call it outrageous, I call it sad.

  34. Laurentius Metaal,

    You seem to know a lot about Chris and even seem to know him personally. Please explain. I would be happy to forgive him as I too find all of this very sad and I get the sense that Chris set up a world for himself and now that that world is being called into question, he just doesn’t really know what to do. As much as he probably would like to rid himself of his demons and cry out with the truth, it is difficult when so many of you are waiting in the wings to slay him. Why do so many of you hate him? Has he done anything to you?

  35. So we’re discussing someone who doesn’t say he’s a lawyer (I looked on his firms website and his Linked In profile, they make no such claims), doesn’t work for a law firm, doesn’t have (nor seems to need) a law degree, and is developing a business in India. And we’re supposed to be morally outraged at this?

    In response to FOARP, I would think that Chris wouldn’t want to contact you in response to the material you placed on your site (which I also read) when you seem to be hiding yourself behind a pseudonym. So FOARP – who are you? It seems fair to ask when you’re talking so much about what you seem to know about him.

    Ryan, I find your attempt an character assasination a rather sad reflection of expat life. Chris, by all accounts that seem to be provable, runs a decent enough business, donates to charity and has given responses to people: If there is a real problem here, either complain about him to the licensing authorities, or if you have a legal issue created by him, issue a writ and sue.

    I think that is fair enough. But I doubt that anyone here from what I can make of all this actually has any grounds to do so.

    I do detect however a large amount of Trolls masquerading as the morally outraged. What I read looks purely like amounts of vitiolic conjecture attempting to be passed off as facts.

    It’s not a very credible article Ryan.

  36. I hadn’t intended to post another reply here, this one for sure will be the last. However, in view of what I regard as highlly offensive remarks and comments I will comment on the Mumbai issue. However, I have to also say that with these sorts of people, you can just never win. First, it’s law. Now it’s Mumbai. Next?

    If FOARP had done his homework properly he would have found out that the Indian services industry in both law and accounting is highly restricted. Foreign firms are not permitted to practice. Consequently, we work with a local partner firm in Mumbai (as we do in other Indian cities). We fund the office, hire our own staff, but are parked in effect in another firms office. Our Mumbai partner firm office is located just behind the Taj Hotel (it’s a prime commercial area with many chambers and other firms there). We had staff and clients in that office (and some staying at the Taj) at the time of the attacks. I had three days without sleep trying to get things sorted out there and deal with personnel affected. It was highly traumatic. FOARP and Meetal don’t know this (why would they?) but follow up and “investigate”. They call up our published India office numbers – but they are located elsewhere. For fairly obvious reasons we don’t want incoming enquiries being handled in our partners offices. Consequently they publish material our entire India practice is only in virtual offices and suggest I lie about the entire episoide in Mumbai. They don’t have the courtesy to check with me. They purely leap to conclusions and are content to snipe away regardless of the actual circumstances. I may also add – what business is it of theirs ? They are not clients of mine. They are not the regulatory authority. They are not shareholders of my business. They are not employees. Such mattsrs are, in fact, quite literally, none of their business. However, I do produce India Briefing (www.india-briefing.com) and 2point6billion which I think demonstrates our understanding of India law & tax. We have our own staff there.

    Yet FOARP et al they feel quite content to publish defamatory material based on half truths and hearsay and pass it off as if it is factual. Then post it on other peoples sites like this one, as if saying it more than once makes it more credible. It’s not. It’s rubbish, and its malicious.

    I find the whole episode highly offensive to be frank, and I resent being used and dragged into such debates purely to provide a sort of sick entertainment for someones readers.

    I don’t comment on websites whose people hide behind assumed names and who will not reveal their identities (FOARP) and I prefer not to get drawn into debates like this – I can never win. I notice my daughter is now dragged into it. What sort of blogging is this?

    For me, such behavior, the hosting of unverified commentary and the deliberate attempt to create “news” or scandal by doing so isn’t blogging. It is online harrassment. And when it contains lies and falsehoods, it’s also libelous.

    If someone is libelled online, or if a site hosts such material, people do have the right to take action. Blogging is not a vehicle to create gossip and innuendo willy nilly with no thought for the consequences.

    Ryan has I see 54 members to this blog. I’ve given him the time of day to explain my position. Perhaps you would be good enough to recognise this article for what it truly represents: An attempt to discredit me through the use of poorly researched material, gossip, and little factual material.

    I won’t be commenting on this again. I am however, very disappointed it has turned up on this website. You, dear reader, can make up your own mind.

    Thank you


  37. @RobertQ, Fuwajiayo –

    1) CDE was contacted about the absence (indeed, practical impossibility) of damage to his Mumbai ‘office’ from the terrorist attacks – both via email and through attempted comments on his blog, he refused to reply, and did not allow the comments to appear. That there was no damage to the building is not something that has been made up, it is what the people who actually work in that building said.

    2) If Chris Devonshire-Ellis wants to know who I am, he can email me himself. He hasn’t – and I’m not going to put my details on line just so he can subject me to the same treatment of deniable threats and harassment that Wang Jianshuo and others have gone through. If he wants to say something, he can put it in black and white so there is an undeniable record.

  38. Chris, stripped of all the verbiage, what you are telling us is that the offices of one of your business partners may have been damaged, not an office owned or managed by you. Was it, as you claimed, your ‘local office’? No.

    I also note that you are not denying that you have lied about your qualifications.

  39. Given no one on here has identified themselves as clients, this whole thread is mute.

    Whether or not an intern put “lawyer” or a writeup of a visit from a bunch of law students calls him a lawyer means absolutely noting unless it is match by a client who says Chris and Dezan Shira did not live up to their service commitment.

    @ FOARP – you have gone well beyond the limits of protecting yourself from Chris’s habit of firing off a email. I am not sure what Chris did to you (you ducked under that question), but your passion for this subject diminishes your credibility and ultimately it is why a bunch of people with friends who “used to work there” are the only ones backing you.

    Get proof that he oversold himself and that it damage his client’s position. Otherwise, you are monger with too much time on their hands, and little else to do worth your time.

    In the end, Chris is right. he can’t win because on this forum, and others, the people behind it are against him. Interesting that many of the people involved in this discussion have posts that lament the fact that a human flesh search engine and net nanney exist in China, they are no better in upholding the ideals that their own systems hold of value.

  40. OK why do I think Chris is a hypocrite? Here’s a nice documented chain of events.

    A competitor gets an anonymous email in which he is being threathened (copy available), the attachment is in MSWord in which a so called other person has send a message to Mr. Godber that he has loads of information. The Word Documents has a properties tab which said: “last edited by Chris Devonshire-Ellis”

    Next thing he recieves a message from Chris himself in which he is again being threathened that his firm will not see the end of 2007.

    1. As it was clear a smear campaign was being launched the first libellous materials appeared online. The first site was Shanghaiguide, then came GeoExpat.
    2. He used an email address to sign up for GeoExpat called Digbyjones2007@hotmail.com
    3. The IP adrress when signing up referred to the Marco Polo Hotel in HK. Chris was on his way to India
    4. Another posting on a webiste called zoomreview in which false accusations were made against the competitor and the partners
    5. Ip address was his hotel in India. Downloaded the logs from the router and warned the telco to protect the router they were using as it had no password.
    6. Next was a message from a regulator in HK, Singapore and another one in the UK that a person using that email account had filed accusations against the accounting firm
    7. The accusations had no legal grounds whatsoever and were dismissed
    8. Tying the email account to Chris was pretty staightforward.
    9. He used it on a blog called http://www.blogstoday.co.uk/bloghome.aspx?username=iwanttogetmarriedinayear and used the alias Fidel which he often used on Shanghaiexpat before being thrown off that website for harassing others. You want to see Narcissus in action? Have a look.
    10. He did his usual harassing or quasi funny stuff being quite delusional and trying to take the piss out of the blog owner.
    11. He claimed to be a lawyer, tax was his speciality, he was very rich, Scottish as well and live in Beijing. Does Chris thinks he is a lawyer? Yes he does. Fidel is just him. It is not a joke. It’s creepy.
    12. A lovely lady from Russia was so nice to chat with him on the comments and get his corporate email address and continued to email him. Our heartfelt thanks go to Irina.
    13. As it was clear that Chris was the man behind the smearcampaign the next phase was to have all comments removed.

    As we had enough proof that Mr. Anonymous was Chris we could just reveal his identity under the garbage he posted everywhere and leave it to the polluter to clean up the mess. A Chinese judge would appreciate the effort and humanity (Rumsfeld words but now on a more peaceful subject instead of bombing campaigns) that went into our research and the fairness of having the person who started such posts to take care of the cleaning. We are sorry if any webmaster was hurt by Chris in the process but that is what happened and it worked like a charm. Why would we have to spend our time convincing webmasters to pull Chris’ shit off the site? Let him do it.

    So do I have to feel pitty for Chris? No way! Want to sue me for Libel? Did I or did you start these postings. Do I bother now, two years later? Nope not at all but do I bother if Chris preaches ethics online? Yes for sure as I know he is the opposite of what he preaches.

    Do I attack his company? No I presume as Chris wrote that if clients are unhappy they can demand a refund or sue him or whatever and that does not happen so about Dezan Shira nothing from me unless he claims offices he does not have. If you indeed had such offices you were asked on a number of occasions and wrote you would post pics on 2point6billion. We don’t mind just for the sake of it to send someone to check :-). Do I believe all the marketing blabla of any business in services? No I do not. They always try to look bigger than they really are. Do I think the people in his company are unqualified? No why should I. Indeed hardworking folks and they are out there pulling in clients. Good for them, good for Chris.

  41. All of a sudden Devonshire-Ellis is trying to hide from all that he has done to cause stress and problems for other bloggers. Here’s one more for you: http://www.chinalawblog.com/2008/12/if_its_december_it_must_be_chi.html. I cannot prove this is about Chris Devonshire-Ellis (my email to CLB got a response saying they do not want to name any names because they just don’t want to subject themselves to more harrassment from “this person”), but it certainly at least seems to me that this is about Chris Devonshire-Ellis at work again because I cannot even imagine who else it could be. I find it troubling that there are those (are all of these people actually Chris Devonshire-Ellis, I don’t know)who want us to believe he is actually a decent sort. But we should not ignore that he is someone who intimidates other bloggers to get them to pull their posts (China Law Blog, Silicon Hutong, and China Esquire are those who this has happened to as we can see from Dan’s comment above) and those are just the ones we know. All I can say is thanks to Lost Laowai and to FOARP and to Wang Jianshuo who actually have the guts to keep their posts up and by doing so help all of us live just a little bit freeer. You three deserve medals. Try talking to those who have worked for him and you will see the truth. There is more than is on here, that much I have no doubbt.

  42. Chris, let’s stop playing these games. You lied, I proved it, and that’s it.

    If you want to actually identify the statements made that you think are defamatory instead of using the word as a blanket phrase, then do so. I am waiting for your email.

  43. @ Chris

    I send you a message to your website immediately after reading the Mumbai article. You did not respond and did not publish my comments. wrote it in my name so there can be no misunderstanding where it came from. Your claim that you were not notified is thus false. You had the opportunity to clarify because if I see that it does not match up so do others and they did……

  44. @ Chris

    I send a message to your website immediately after reading the Mumbai article. You did not respond and did not publish my comments. wrote it in my name so there can be no misunderstanding where it came from. Your claim that you were not notified is thus false. You had the opportunity to clarify because if I see that it does not match up so do others and they did……

  45. I have met Chris quite a few times and found him good value.

    He has a tendency to show off and exaggerate, but I guess that goes with being one of life’s characters. Fundamentally he’s a good guy.

    He mixes a great Daiquiri too, even is his Martinis are a bit wanting – not nearly enough vermouth.

    Drinks Tokaji too. OK in my book.

  46. Quote: “I do not believe he has any kids either, but truthfully, I don’t know, so if anyone out there does know, I would love to hear it”

    So now these people are looking for information about his wife and kids? Why would they want to know that? That’s scary man. That’s not right.

  47. What I also find sad is that there are people out there who seem too willing to forgive Devonshire-Ellis for all of his lies simply because he mixes a great Daiquiri or because someone was trying to find out whether he really has a 12 year old daughter (behind whom he seemed to be trying to hide). I for one applaud all those who are bringing his actions and realities out into the open where they can be properly analyzed and disected. This is exactly the sort of things blogs and the internet are so good at and I am impressed by how all those who criticize Mr. Ellis are trying to do so with facts, not innuendo. So I think it unfair to go after the person who asked whether he had a daughter or not. I think most think he does not have a daughter (I have known him for years and this is the first I have heard of this) and yet the information is being sought so the facts are straight. Chris said he had an office in Mumbai when it appears this was not true. Chris claims to have offices all over the world when they appear to be virutal offices, not real offices at all. So why shouldn’t we doubt the daughter also.

    Chris, here’s one more for you. Who are your people actually in India and actually in Vietnam? I ask this because I have heard you don’t actually have anyone in either places.

  48. Oh, and I love how Chris says he tries to keep his charitable work “low key” and then links over to his own blog where he touts his charitable work endlessly. Who else would do something like that? Really classy Chris, really classy.

  49. As for Chris personally, I have also met him, though I’ve never tried his Daiquiri. He’s flamboyant and does tend to carry around a decent entourage when he’s in Shangers. He does seem a bit over-the-top, but that’s part of his personality. If his flamboyancy makes you feel inferior, that’s your personality problem, not his.

    As for his business, I have yet to deal with Dezan Shira personally, but knowing some of his friends and colleagues, being friends with some of them as well in Shanghai, he does come highly recommended. Some are clients of DS and some aren’t. When I finally do register my company, I’ll check with them no problem.

    As for his wife and kids… come on, people. Give it a rest on that one. I’d go after people looking into my wife just to find dirt, too. Go after me, fine. Go after my family, that’s a whole new ballgame there.

  50. There have been a couple of attacks on Ryan for hosting this thread on his blog. I’m not sure whether to take Ellis’ last posting as a threat against Ryan for having this thread on his board.

    Ryan has expressed no opinion of Ellis either way in this discussion. In fact, he seems to be giving Ellis the benefit of the doubt. As an attorney myself, I do not agree with Ryan’s ready forgiveness of one who would misrepresent himself as an attorny. (I write this without having an opinion on whether Ellis in fact has represented himself in such a manner.)

    The American application of the law on defamation differs a decent bit from that of the UK. As I understand the it, the two main differences between American and British judiical philosophies on defamation are 1. the existence of the First Amendment, which protects (albeit with limitations) a person’s right to speak freely; and, 2. that people with a platform from which to respond (“public figures”) have a sufficient non-legal remedy for defamatory statements.

    In the internet age, jurisdictional issues are less certain. I believe (although am uncertain) that one wishing to sue for defamatory statements in China has a better chance than in the U.S. However, jurisdiction is not the issue.

    I am firmly in the camp that Mr. Ellis has a substantial platform from which to defend himself and his business. He has done so twice on this blog, and apparently on his website. I sincerely hope that neither he nor his attorneys are contemplating threatening or pursuing legal action as a remedy for postings made here or elsewhere on the internet.

    As an observer who has never met Ellis nor used his services, I would find attempts to supress such speech as adding to the credibility of the apparently defamatory postings.

    Mr. Ellis has done a decent job of answering some of the allegations. (However, it was he who brought up his daughter.) As upsetting as it may be for him to read such critical posts, the controversy shows that he is quite a prominent figure. He should be cheered by the comments of his defenders – particularly those who know him and / or have used his services.

  51. Wow, I knew that this thread was likely to bring about some passionate debate, having seen the Jianshuo and FOARP threads mentioned in the post – but didn’t really expect such a wide range of responses. Some I agree with, some I cringe at and some I’m reading and thinking WTF? But the whole thing is a testament to the value a platform like a blog holds.

    Obviously many will disagree with this, particularly those on the short end. This is not character assassination. Not by me at least. This was my blogged response to several other blog posts. In fact, it was incited by the fact that Chris maliciously attacked another blogger, and that I had been told on several occasions from various sources that is exactly how Chris operates. That he is well-known in the China blogsphere is not conjecture, not speculation, it is fact.

    And this is precisely why blogs have value. Bloggers like Chris, Dan and David (all mentioned above – I’m really not trying to drag anyone into this, or put anyone in boats the same) utilize blogging for financial gains, business reputation management, and to increase public profile of the primary blogger and their businesses. Cool.

    But at the end of the day all business-focused blogs have a kill switch and can (and most often will) moderate the comments on their blogs to assure only the most moderate critique occurs. Again, cool. It’s a business and they need to protect their businesses.

    However, that leaves a group voiceless to respond to the conversation should their opinions be of a drastically different colour than the blogger’s/business’, and that’s where the sheer mass and variety of other blogs comes in.

    And that’s exactly what brought this post from me just reading comments on other blogs to me writing a post about it. It irritated me that Chris could write shite about Jianshuo on his China Briefing blog, where he’s able to moderate all response, but then pay thugs to call Jianshuo and bully him into removing comments Chris wasn’t able to remove himself.

    This led me to reading about similar situations on other sites and that pissed me off.

    Now, I’m no crusader. I’m not out to hurt Chris, and as I said in the post, I wish his business all the best. I’ve not once heard a single bad thing about the quality of their work. But, and let me be clear about this, that’s not my problem.

    My problem is that Chris is utilizing this medium, our medium, against the people. He is quashing public discourse through threatening actions and then using that very medium to further his own opinions. It’s just not right.

    The post, which now 50+ comments ago seems like a footnote to this discussion, was not done out of malice, it was done out of balance. That the comments don’t reflect that same ideal of balance is, in my opinion, more a testament to truth than to who has more online friends.


    As for this blog being responsible because it plays host to libelous comments – surely somebody other than myself has to have looked into this – comments are the sole responsibility of the comment’s author. I can be asked to court to provide details (logs, IPs, etc.) in a libel case against someone who commented here, but unless there is something libelous written by me, the law is on my side.

    I don’t take that to absolve myself of responsibility here however, so let me state this so there’s no confusion over my policy on this. If anyone feels that a comment in this thread, or any thread on this blog, is libel – please simply provide me with the comment and a decent explanation of why it is libelous (that shouldn’t be difficult, right?) and I will remove it.


    And finally, let me clear up a few direct comments:

    @StupidLaowai, you asked:
    1) Is it true you are not an accredited journalist?
    Me: Depends on what you deem accredited I suppose. I have a Journalism-Print diploma from Niagara College. I have also worked for various periodicals in the capacity of a writer/journalist and for some time as an assistant editor to four nationally distributed magazines. That this is a blog, however, doesn’t require me to be a journalist.

    2) Is it also true that you designed the website of Harris & Moure, a client of yours, who publish the ChinaLawBlog and who directly compete with Chris Devonshire-Ellis for legal media space?
    Me: No, it isn’t true. Well, not exactly. I believe the design of Harris & Moure’s Web site was performed by Fokadan Design. I have performed Web services for Harris & Moure a number of times.

    3) Doesn’t that make you compromised?
    Nope. If what Chris says is true, “Dezan Shira & Associates is not a law practice”, then why would they be in competition with Harris & Moure, an actual law practice? But maybe they are, and if they are I don’t think that having provided Dan with a hand here or there with design work entitles him to buy my opinion – anymore than the converse argument is equally as stupid – that because I’ve not done any work with Dezan Shira might sway me to write something negative about them. Trust that if Dan had been claiming to be a lawyer and it was exposed that he wasn’t, and then he went on to bully and bash anyone that exposed this “chestnut”, I would be writing a new post.

    4) What, exactly, do you think you have “proved” in this debate, and do you honestly think this is a fair and reasonable method of dealing with the subject?
    Me: Proved? I’m right, you’re wrong. Nananana. Tell me a fairer and more reasonable method to host this debate and I’ll be on it like a fat kid on a Smartie. I suppose a more reasonable way would have Chris use his own means of blogging to say “I’m sorry Jianshuo, what I said was stupid. And I’m not actually a lawyer, I don’t know why anyone would have thought I was.”

    @CDE You said:

    “Ryan has I see 54 members to this blog. I’ve given him the time of day to explain my position. Perhaps you would be good enough to recognise this article for what it truly represents: An attempt to discredit me through the use of poorly researched material, gossip, and little factual material.”

    We have 54 members? Do you mean readers? Surely it’s higher than that, but maybe not – and if not, then there’s little issue with any of this, right?

    As for “time of day”, I’m guessing you mean the e-mail you sent yesterday asking for my phone number. Sorry I’ve not replied to your e-mails – this comment represents the first time I’ve been online since sending you a response to your initial “contact me” e-mail you sent through the site’s contact form. As soon as I post this I will reply to you directly via e-mail.

    And if you have any factual problem, at all, with the content of the article – not the comments – please let me know and I’ll happily address it. I don’t believe I used any subjective material in the article, and believe it all came directly from your own sources or sources you appear to have endorsed. If I’m wrong, let me know.

  52. Shit, one other thing. I want to address the daughter issue – I am absolutely in agreement, there’s no reason to bring anyone’s family into this – and certainly not minors.

    Carson’s right – it was Chris who brought up a daughter – not sure who’s daughter he was talking about. However going forward, no more daughter talk – it will be removed. I don’t have kids, but I can surely see there’s no need for anyone’s kids brought into this.

  53. Well, it seems I’ve been stitched up here. My fool, for falling for it. Well let me just say a few words before I go.

    1) Ryan did not contact me to confirm, deny or comment beforehand any of the claims made in this article.
    2) Requests by me via email to speak to him for the past three days have been ignored.
    3) His sources, namely FOARP and Laurentius Meetal, have never contacted me to confirm or deny any of their claims;
    4) I have, out of courtesy to Ryan, tried to deal with some of the issues raised and answer them;
    5) I do not however feel there is any legitimate justification for me to do so under such circumstances on blogs such as this, or by FOARP;
    6) If anyone out there does indeed have any legitimate concerns, or wishes to raise questions with me they are free to do so, my email address is on my firms website at http://www.dezshira.com
    7) I only ask that you identify who you are in real life (no aliases), provide a legitimate email address and your reasons for asking. To date – no-one has.

    In summary, I am disappointed with Ryans behavior in dealing with this issue. I am not beholden to anonymous people or indeded, to have to publically defend myself on blogs such as these, who appear to want to print whatever they want without any proper or professional research or journalistic etiquette or ethical standards involved.

    It is a shame Lost Laowai has shown it does not ultimately meet those standards.

    Those who wish too can contact me personally to continue this debate. But there is no obligation for me to discuss private, or indeed business issues on blogs such as these under the conditions imposed.

    Finally, to see what I actually do on a regular basis, as opposed to what people appearently feel at free rein to write here, you can check out http://www.china-briefing.com/news

    I tried to engage with you here, however it seems impossible to hold a meaningful or sensible debate. I’m sorry about that. But I did try. I think what has transpired here ultimately tells you more about the protagonists and the nature of blogs like these than it does about me.

    Yours, Chris

  54. Ryan, for god’s sake don’t let this guy have your phone number. If he has anything to say, communication via email is sufficient for any conceivable purpose – and it leaves an undeniable record of what has been said. If Chris wants to issue threats, let him do so in writing.

  55. Chris,

    Once again, a lot of words, but no denial of the story. You do know that this means that you cannot latter come back and bring action for defamation don’t you? Blanket proclamations that you are being defamed by sources which you do not identify and without identifying in what way you are being defamed do not count.

    By the way, I actually have a screen capture of the message that was left on your blog, but which you refused to allow to be published in moderation – which means you must have read it.

    What does that make you? A liar, again.

    Yours, like I was writing to my Grandma,


  56. Seriously, the wife is pissed and totally uncool with me doing this and not finding something to watch on Youku. However, before things stumble out of control while I’m away – let me set some records straight.

    1. It is not my policy to check with anyone about opinion pieces I write – specifically when I only quote their own sources in the article – check, I know it’s WAY up there, but there’s nothing in the OP that further reprints “claims” of any kind. I simply link to another blog that was having some heated discussion on this topic and decided to add my voice. The comments that have followed are certainly another case all together, but that’s not what Chris seems to be saying above. Additionally, I’ve said on here and in an e-mail to Chris that I’m happy to address any factual errors he has with the OP.

    2. Ignored? WTF? The chain of events, for posterity:
    Sunday, Feb 8/09 – Post is published
    Monday, Feb 9/09 (6:24pm) – Chris writes “Would you please contact me please to discuss your issues” via Lost Laowai’s generic contact form and supplied me with his e-mail.
    Monday, Feb 9/09 (6:28pm) – I respond via my personal e-mail with: “Hi Chris, was somewhat anticipating that e-mail. What would you like to discuss?”
    Tuesday, Feb 10/09 (11am) – I left for vacation, completely out of e-mail communique.
    Tuesday, Feb 10/09 (12:21pm) – Chris e-mail’s me again (at the personal e-mail I sent him in response to the first e-mail) saying: “I would like to discuss that article with you. Please let me have your phone number.”
    Wednesday, Feb 11/09 (9:37am) – Chris e-mails me again asking for my phone number to discuss the article and because I’ve not written him back (again, was away from the Internet for more than 24 hours, as I’m on vacation) Chris stipulates that I’m ignoring him and don’t want to verify the “accuracy of the statements” I’ve made (I’m not entirely sure I’ve made any statements). He also asks to know my motivation and questions: “What have I done to you?”
    Wednesday, Feb 11/09 (8:40pm) – Having just gotten back online I see Chris’ e-mails and the 20+ comments on here and after commenting myself (see last two comments of mine), I write Chris with the following:

    Hi Chris,

    Sorry about the slow reply – wasn’t online until this evening, as I’m travelling at the moment.

    I’d prefer to keep it all to e-mail if that’s alright. I’ve just replied with a rather long comment on the thread, and I think it sums up my thoughts on the original post, the comments people have made and why I was inspired to write it in the first place (ie. my motivation for writing it – it’s nothing you’ve done to me, as I clearly stated in the post, I’ve really had no dealings with you at all and don’t have any malice to you or your business).

    As the comment says, if anything in the post is not accurate, please let me know.


    Wednesday, Feb 11/09 (9:19pm) – After replying to this thread and replying to Chris via e-mail I headed out to grab some food, and return to discover Chris has posted his last comment claiming he’s never heard back from me. Whaaa?

    I tend to agree with FOARP that any correspondence should be through e-mail. This does (as I’ve shown above) leave a rather easily referenced “paper” trail.

    3. My sources, though discovered by anonymous commentators on the FOARP thread, are all legitimate documents online that are closely associated with yourself, not FOARP or Laurentius – who, inconsequentially, say they have contacted you and have not received a response. Based on my #2 above, I’m inclined to believe them.

    4. Cheers.

    5. That’s fine. Do as you wish.

    6. Cool.

    7. Real life – makes sense. Legit e-mail – in wanting a response, makes sense. Reasons for wanting to know – ah… there’s the rub. Is this to say that the truth, if given to people whose reasons aren’t good, may not be positive for yourself?

    I’m going to go drown my sadness of Chris’ disappointment in my behaviour and the lack of standards Lost Laowai has with a cold one and something on Youku.

    I add only this – a number of times in this thread I looked at some of the comments, namely by FOARP and that camp, and felt genuinely bad for the somewhat obsessive sound attacks they were issuing. I considered a number of times deleting them because they went over the top. I couldn’t understand why they were so driven in some sort of quest against CDE. Chris’ response above made it all clear.

  57. In summation, CDE keeps coming on here and complaining about being “stitched up,” about biases, about not having been contacted, and yet he never refutes the facts about him. That leaves me (and any other reasonable person) to conclude that the statements about his credentials, his Mumbai office (and lack of other offices), his copying other people’s content, and his threatening others are all true. I particularly believe the comments made by real people, many of whom I have “known” via the internet for years.

    Again, great job Ryan.

  58. Isn’t this all just a storm in a teacup? The collective amount of effort that went into everything here is a little over the top, imo.

  59. Woah woah woah!!

    I didn’t expect this kind of thing to appear on one of these expat blogs! This is high drama! Someone should write a novel about expat life in China. It’s gonna be a flop back home cos noone cares enough but could be interesting.

  60. Have to agree Matt. These types like FOARC who stalk Chris through cyber space come across as obsessive stalkers. I have no idea why Ryan felt the world needed yet another post bashing Chris.

  61. I found out something interesting. Laurentious Meetal, who has been here with many threads attacking Chris, used to work for Ed Lehman. Chris sued Lauentious’ boss – the same Ed Lehman – in 2004. Apparently they placed tags on their site so that when Chris’s firms name was entered into search engines, Lehamns business came up. The story is here: http://www.china-briefing.com/magazine/archive/2004 – see the March issue. Very interesting.

    I also heard that Meetal got banned from attending China Briefing events after he turned up at an Indian event Chris held and tried to poach Chris’s clients in an aggresive way.

    Funny isn’t it how people prefer to “forget” their own past when it comes to having a go at others.

  62. Indeed, it does seem odd that given all the injustice and dishonesty going on in this world, not least of all China, that Ryan, FOAP, and his ilk choose to shine their honorable beacon of truth at one guy running a small business.
    Still, its good for ratings, and this seems to have had the highest number of comments of any of your posts, so by that measure itś been a great success. You must be very happy, given the very competitive state of the laowai in China with a unique perspective on things blogosphere.

  63. The reason, I think, that Chris Devonshire-Ellis of Dezen Shira always gets so much play is because so many bloggers are angry at him for stealing content (see the very first comment above) and for threatening them over posts or comments that Chris Devonshier Ellis does not like (see countless comments on this above). I think the fact that Chris Devonshire Ellis of Dezen Shira is known to heap praise on himself using various aliases (see the many comments about this above as well) is also a big factor. I myself am pretty certain that all or nearly all of those who have come on here trying to minimize the horrible things Chris Devonshire Ellis of Dezen Shira has done (and we all agree seem to agree that his trying to take advantage of the Mumbai massacres to market himself was horrible) are Chris Devonshire Ellis of Dezen Shira as an alias. Ryan, I have heard there is a list going around out there with all of CDE’s IP addresses so if you want that, just let us know and I will do my best to make sure you get it. I have heard at least one blog talk about how they have used this list to block Chris Devonshire’s comments on their blog.

    So yes, what Chris Devonshire Ellis has done is not as bad as 9/11, but it is pretty shitty and people doing business in China deserve to know the truth and about Chris Devonshire Ellis. And all this writing about Chris Devonshire Ellis does do some good since a Google search of Chris Devonshire-Ellis brings up Fear of a Red Planet first and wangjianshuo fifth. Probably by the time we are all done here, this post will be right up there as well

  64. Couple moer things:

    1. I just went to Dezan Shira’s site and as far as I can tell, it does not mention any education for Chris Devonshire Ellis. Does this mean he never went to University at all?

    2. I could find the names of only three people listed with the company and they all appear to be based in China. Why doesn’t the Dezen Shira site list anyone else? Is it because it is now down to just these three people? Who heads up the 17 or so offices Chris Devonshire Ellis is always talking about or are they just mailbox drops?

    3. I did not find any evidence of a true lawyer on the site. Does Dezen Shira really have any lawyers working there? Does it have any licensed accountants working there?

  65. To RobertQ:

    Just to clarify that I am not Chris using an alias. I’m me, posting as myself. Plenty of people in China know me under this alias. Anyone who checks my IP address will find it is located in New Zealand. I am in no way associated with Chris and have not even met the guy for more than two years now.

    I posted here because I find the relentless cyber-stalking of Chris and his businesses creepy.

    It is clear that certain individuals are conducting a vindictive campaign against Chris. Besides Ryan’s post (nice!), I have noticed numerous anti-Chris links posted in the comments sections of numerous China related blogs. These smear attempts are invariably completely off-topic by the way.

    Since first visiting China (over a decade ago) I have never heard any complaints regarding the quality of the services Chris provides. So what exactly is the problem?

    Fundamentally it looks like jealous businesses resorting to unpleasant tactics to bring down a well established and successful competitor. Oh yeah. . . and the usual crew of bloggers desperately trying to look relevant.

  66. This is well fucked up. Chris sponsors the Shanghai Bashers Expat Cricket Team through his 2point6billion website. He also gets his wallet out and will buy you a drink. I have no idea who the fuck FOARP or this Lauentis guy are, I never met or heard of them. But they seem pscychotic and I imagine sad old expat cunts crying in their beer and going mad because they ain’t making it aned someone like CDE is. Your a twat Ryan going after Chris. You even said you’ve never met the guy. No expat is going to want be mentioned on your site after this. Idiot. What is ther point of slagging off people who never even know them?

  67. Robert Q:
    You don’t exactly look very hard do you. I wonder why? So you also can post crap?
    In China we employ over 150 permanent staff in our legal services, accounting, due diligence and audit sectors.

    Senior staff include: (then it lists a bunch of people)

    Firms don’t list all their staff usually to keep off headhunters.
    More comments from people that don’t do their research properly and make stupid assumptions. They have a bunch of lawyers and accountants. I even meet some of them from time to time at chamber events.

  68. Yeah guys, that’s right, Chris is a saint, that’s why he harasses website owners who publish criticisms of him with threatening phone calls, and sends them emails like this:

    “If I see any further commentary about us on your site, I can start to make a lot of commentary about you.
    I think I have made my point today. So clear up your annoying tedious shit about us on your fucking ill informed website. ”

    I think we’ve seen on this site what he means by “make a lot of commentary”.

    All we’ve done is run a fact-check on the things which people accused Chris of lying about – and shown that he was lying. The only time we’ve had any communication with him is to ask him about the Mumbai story. If he chose not to respond, that’s his business.

  69. Pingback: East-West Station » Chris Devonshire-Ellis is a top bloke

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