There’s a new… umm… blog(?) coming to town and it’s aiming to clean up capitalist China consultants like they were Lenin’s laundry.

While chatting with Rich Brubaker today (who was in turn also discussing the issue with Chris Devonshire-Ellis) I discovered I wasn’t the only one receiving cleverly crafted proletarian posters insidiously inserted in my inbox (I’ve mentioned I love alliteration’s, right).

I hate the invasion of my inbox about as much as I hate the invasion of my anus, but this socialistic spam was something else.

The e-mails are nothing but a slogan and an attached image – nothing too uncommon there actually, as I get Cialis and stock (and sometimes Cialis stock) e-mails of the same structure all the time. However, the pictures are all classic Cultural Revolution posters reworked to promote the arrival of the Communist Tax Lawyer on May 1st.

Communist Tax Lawyer Communist Tax Lawyer Communist Tax Lawyer Communist Tax Lawyer

A quick visit to reveals a tad more with the line:

Aiming to provide legal updates, doses of reality, ready humor and incisive commentary to those involved with providing services to and investing in Communist and ex-Communist countries.

Curiosity piqued, I fired off a quick “I’ll bite” e-mail, and got this response:

Comrade Ryan;

Greetings from the Communist Tax Lawyer !

Whats the deal ? We aspire to kick the arses off all capitalistic consultants dispensing advise in Communist countries who don’t know what they’re talking about….

and I want you to let people knowing about on your blog.

Hey I send you nice picture of Lenin as well.

See you on 1st May !



The Communist Tax Lawyer

Well, I’m always willing to do my bit to “kick the arses off all capitalistic consultants dispensing advise in Communist countries who don’t know what they’re talking about…” Actually, to tell the truth, I’m apolitical on the issue, but just want to see a cage match between China Law Blog and Communist Tax Lawyer (no tie pulling or briefcase gouging).

You’ve got to give the site credit for clever marketing – as pissed off as I am to get unsolicited advertisements from them, a buzz it has created.

Awe hell, I’ll just wait until they launch and then sign them up for all sorts of “expand your manhood” newsletters.


  1. Ryan,

    This is going to be fun. I have been going back and forth with them, and all I can tell is that (1) they are China knowledgeable; (2) they are hosted in HK; (3) they are multiplayer; (4) they already have their targets set on a group of people; and (5) It is going to be a lot of fun.

    As for who would win the battle.. I am betting China Law Blog has as much of a shot as Mike Spinks against Mike Tyson. They have way too much game, and I just hope I don’t end up on the wrong end of their blogroll.

    If nothing else, what will make this fun is that no one (yet) knows who they are, and as long as that remains true they will be able to tag everyone.


  2. No cage match here as we refer all of our China tax work out to much of our China related tax matters out to our affialiated Chinese law firms or to the big four. We don’t do tax work in China or anywhere else. Strangely enough, my most recent email (spam) on this blog(?) says they will be focusing on, among other places Havana, Moscow, and Pyongyang. We do no work in North Korea nor Cuba and, last time I looked, Russia was no longer Communist.

    Rich was not clear who would be Spinks and who would be Tyson, but I would say that we are not even up to Spinks level on this and I would certainly not wish the Tyson label on anyone.

  3. I really should know better than to engage legal professionals on here.

    Anyway, after spending half a second actually investigating things, cat’s out of the bag – Communist Tax Lawyer is none other than Chris Devonshire-Ellis of Dezan Shira & Associates – a business out of HK that operates a number of blogs, including China Briefing and ChinaExpat.

    Sorry to ruin the punch line folks, but well, spam never pays (it does, however, rot your soul until it smells like a Chinese bus during rush hour).

  4. doesn’t surprise me at all that it is Chris. He is a brilliant guerrilla marketer, starting way back in the days of Dezan stickers in taxis!! (a genuine pai ma pi here)

    am looking forward to the launch!

  5. Doesn’t surprise me a bit that it is Chris either. Who else but someone who made his name putting stickers in urinals would now be starting a blog with “lawyer” in the title when he himself is not a lawyer. What does he or his company know about Cuba, Russia, or North Korea? Lack of knowledge has never stopped him in China either though.

    I just wish Chris would focus on improving his existing blogs before he launchs a new one. China Briefing was pretty good before its editor could’nt take it any more and China Expat could be so much better if it would actually start covering more of what we expats really want to see.

    I will look for Chris’s new blog but his past history (both real and faked) gives me much doubt.

  6. Nice work on the investigation. I must admit that I am dissapointed a bit. The build up on this was decent and the card really were a nice touch.

    Now that the cat is out of the bag though, I am guessing the project will die. Its too bad. I had sent 2-3 emails to the wizard (apparently Chris) to figure out who it was… and the emails were brilliant.


  7. @All Roads: I’m not sure when it happened that China Business/Legal Advice blogs overtook noodle blogs as the bulk of the China blog population, but whenever it was a little piece of me died. There are some fantastic corporate/business blogs out there (yours included), but I think it would take something pretty amazing for me to be excited about a new one.

    @China-Matt: I’m guessing they don’t do many dealings with any capitalist farm animals.

  8. @ Ryan – I would agree that there are a lot of new blogs, and there is definitely a wide range of capabilities. For me, I operate under the motto “content is king”. Not saying that makes me better than anyone, but it provides a focus.

    With regard to the approach Chris took, he really had me going. I was emailing him on this, and he was playing back, and in hindsight it played well. More than anything else, the writing style and the cards were much more entertaining than 95% of what I have seen and I give him (and the group) he is working with a lot of credit.

    I know he would have preferred to keep it anon for a couple of more weeks, while he built up some speed… but if it goes as he has laid out on his site, I think this will prove to be a pretty interesting site for the global jet set looking for information on markets that are really poorly covered.

    Anyway, as with all blogs/ media, the proof will be in the pudding… and once out, the site will be open to the world for praise/ criticism.

    Have a good weekend

  9. Seems DS has come clean on this and it appears the site is going to be some sort of forum to discuss watering holes and investment laws and sell clothing. The full story is here:

    Why if DS wanted this kept quiet did it not spend the extra few quid required to make the domain name anonymous? Are we really supposed to believe DS, Rich, and you did not know who was behind this all along. I feel that we are all being taken for a ride here in the name of spamming advertising.

    I too got one of those emails and it took me ten seconds (like everyone else) to know the spam was coming from Dezan Shera.

  10. @ddt: Yup, seems like the privacy protection feature on domain registration would have been a smart way to go. Certainly can’t speak for Rich, but when I posted the original post I just didn’t bother to do a search for it – as the “mystery” wasn’t all that big of a deal to me and not the point of the post.

    As for spamming – sorry, did you get an e-mail from me? Last I checked I still own the rights to post whatever the hell I want here and until it gets in your inbox unrequested, I’d rather not be accused of being involved in spamming.

    In regards to any connection I have with Chris, DS , and Communist Tax Lawyer (or any tax law, or any law really) – other than the e-mail quoted in the post (which seems likely to have come from him) and an e-mail he sent after being “outed” to give me a better idea of what the site will be about, I’ve never had any communication with him.

  11. @ ddt

    I like Ryan did not look into who was behind it, and in hindsight I rally should have. The honest truth was that it first came out, I thought it was from a different set of bloggers… and I emailed Chris to see if he had received the emails too. I traded 2-3 emails with the CTL email address… and then forwarded some of the responses to Chris as they were really fantastic responses.

    When Ryan did the research I was a bit shocked, and sent Chris a short email to express the gig was up.

    @ Dan – I agree we should not have an ear biter in the ring, and all I can say is that I wrote what I wrote above because I didn’t know it was Chris. In my mind, you, me, and Chris were all going to be targets of this… and we were all looking at a cyber ass kicking. Wasn’t making trying to make it a personal statement.


  12. Well the site is up now – and the t-shirts are fucking brilliant ! Just a shame some of the China bloggers had to go and spoil some of the build up fun. Chris stopped putting out those neat flyers once he got outed. Anyway, the site is at and it looks as if he did a good job – if he can get a load of Russians on it it’ll be fun.

  13. @Matt: Or Chris could have spent the $3/yr. and anonymized the lookup info.

    Ya can’t spam people’s inboxes with “guess who’s coming” e-mails, and not expect some people to guess. 🙂

    Site does look interesting though. I see they’re using phpBB – I’m in the process of considering it as a replacement to Lost Laowai’s current forum.

  14. Pingback: Would the real Chris Devonshire-Ellis please stand up | Lost Laowai China Blog

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