Steptoe's Hong Kong office was featured in an article in Law.com International titled "Why Would a Law Firm Open in Hong Kong Amid Political and Economic Turmoil?" The article, published June 29, discusses how the city's importance amid the escalating trade tensions between China and the United States is expected to grow the demand for legal services in export controls and sanctions.
Steptoe opened its Hong Kong office earlier this year with a team of lawyers with significant US export controls and sanctions experience in Hong Kong. Office managing partner Wendy Wysong, who has practiced in Hong Kong for the past decade, served as a federal prosecutor at the Justice Department for 15 years, followed by a three-year stint as deputy assistant secretary for export enforcement at the Department of Commerce under the George W. Bush administration. She tells Law.com International that her time in government gave her a front-row seat to the US government's growing concerns about China. "There were Chinese, Hong Kong, and Singaporean companies that just didn’t understand that the US was going to assert its extraterritorial enforcement on them," she says.
Steptoe Hong Kong partner Ali Burney also has DC government experience, having previously worked at the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control. Burney, who relocated from Singapore to help open Steptoe's Hong Kong office, tells Law.com International that there were already signs of export controls and sanctions being used as a foreign policy tool during the Obama administration, but the Trump administration significantly ramped them up, especially those targeting China.
"Reading the tea leaves, you could predict that there was going to be enforcement and friction in this area between US and China," he says. "That's what made us think our services would be required here in Hong Kong—this place caught between the two."
Wysong does not foresee the US government rolling back export control measures and sanctions against China regardless of who is in office next year—only refinement or entrenchment. "We're in Hong Kong for the long term. We're very excited about the practice that we’ve established here," she says.
The full article can be read at Law.com International (subscription required).