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Expats solve problems the Chinese way
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Expatriates are playing an important role in dispute mediation in Shanghai Pudong's Yanlord Garden Property and officials hope such a practice can be promoted to the city's other international communities.

"Mediation is a very good way to solve disputes and I think we Europeans can learn this way from the Chinese," said Eva Drewes, a German lawyer who has been living in China for more than 10 years.

Drewes is one of four foreign mediators on Yanlord's 11-member mediation committee. The others are Janson Boomhan from Australia, Drewe's husband Philip Lazare and Malaysian resident Liz Sun. They help solve disputes for residents free of charge in their spare time.

"One step back, more space for each other" is a Chinese saying Drewes uses in mediation.

Of the some 5,800 residents in the Yanlord community, 60 percent are from abroad.

"Expatriate mediators can better communicate with expatriate residents who have similar cultural backgrounds," said Shang Zhongqiang, a division director of the Shanghai Justice Bureau. He said the government encourages more expats to join mediation committees.

The foreign mediation committee members in Yanlord, the city's first group of its kind, have solved more than 30 disputes involving neighbors, conflicts between residents and domestic helpers, family disputes and disputes with the property management company since the committee was set up in 2003.

(Shanghai Daily March 5, 2008)

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