“We opened our third China office in Shanghai this year, and I had to spend a lot of time internally explaining why that was necessary,” says Matthew Bersani, Shearman & Sterling’s Asia managing partner. “The simple explanation is that the bankers are in Hong Kong, the state-owned enterprises (SOEs) are in Beijing and the private sector is in Shanghai. It is an unfortunate reality of the China market that it is dispersed like that. If you are missing one of those offices, you are missing a big piece of China.”
    Bersani’s assessment is echoed by many of his competitors, both old China hands such as Baker & McKenzie and White & Case, and the more recent US arrivals in Beijing and Shanghai.