+44(0)7988364785 david.joseph@hubofchina.com

Doing business in China cannot be compared to doing business in any other country and so one must prepare by taking on the advice of those who have experience of operating in the Chinese market. Below are some areas which need to be taken into consideration when doing business in China.

Respect the Chinese view of the world

Despite the opening of the Chinese economy to foreign investment and cultural influence that commenced at the start of the 90’s China has still kept its unique collective culture. Decades of communist rule still affect day to day interaction. It is important as a Westerner regardless of if you are in China for leisure or business to respect their culture and not expect their values to be the same as your own. For sure the influence of events such as the one baby policy have created a more individualistic cultural element but for many people individual accomplishments will come secondary to family and organisations.

 

Chinese view of the world

Don’t make assumptions

If you are in a meeting with a Chinese business person don’t necessarily take things at face value. What they say may not actually be what is going on, and they maybe acting in this way so as to avoid confrontation. This is also not considered to be inauthentic but just a different way of interaction than westerners are used to. You need to be aware of Chinese culture to understand the subtle communication that is going on behind the spoken word

 

no assumptions in the chinese market

Relationships, relationships, relationships

You could say that for westerners transactions define everything. Westerners like to go into a meeting, work out a deal, sign and deliver what you said you would. These building blocks are the transaction and delivering on the transaction. The way of conducting business in China is more relationship  oriented. The Chinese will generally only do business with people they know, like and respect. A transaction is not really business, which is why there are sometimes quality issues between exporters in China and the importers in the west. the exporter and importer have not got a real relationship going. It’s common for a ‘business meeting’ in China to involve eating hotpot and drinking Baijiu (rice wine) whilst not even mentioning the task in hand.

 

creating relationships in china

Reasonably successful companies are likely to have some government connection

President Xi has made it his manifesto to tackle corruption in China and he has been pretty successful, however there are still likely to be links between companies and the government.  If you wish to be successful in China in the long term it is imperative to understand the political landscape you are operating in and to build up connections (guangxi) accordingly.

Hire local agencies to advice and guide you

If you’re planning to expand to any foreign market it is very important to work with local partners. This is especially the case in  China, a country whose values and systems are still largely misunderstood by their western counterparts.

FAQ’s

First rule of thumb is to ask any of your Chinese colleagues what they shall be wearing. Your colleagues will be generally delighted to be asked and see it as a sign of respect. If you don’t have a Chinese colleague attending the meeting then one should dress formal to be on the safe side. Wear a tie with neutral colours if possible. If possible wear your suit jacket the whole time, as it is seemed sometimes disrespectful to remove it during a business meeting.  Where black polished shoes.

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Guanxi means relationships. Relationships are extremely important in China. Guangxi was more important in the past as businessmen/women could not rely as much on institutions. As China has developed guangxi has become slightly less important but it is still hard to imagine a business being successful in China without good strong relationships. It is very common for a Chinese businessmen to conduct initial meetings in an informal environment such as a bar or a restaurant and build up the relationships this way. Get practicing on your rice wine (baijiu) drinking skills!

If you have any questions regarding Chinese culture, or require any consultancy services then send us an email at david.joseph@hubofchina.com. We will get back to you within the same day!

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When conducting business in China there is a lot to take into consideration in order to ensure you are respectful to others. A slip of the tongue or mannerism could be the difference between getting a great deal or not.  In terms of dressing conservatism is normally favoured. Women should wear long sleeved blouses and high necklines, whilst a formal suit will suffice for men.

Ensuring your peers face is maintained is very important. Making a joke at the expensive of anyone is a complete no no matter how trivial it may seem.

If you are in a group the most important member should typically enter the room first and be allowed to lead the meeting. I really is not appropriate to interrupt this person. Although bowing and nodding used to be typical for greetings, handshakes have become more common.

Do not talk about any sensitive issues such as politics, anything controversial is a unnecessary risk to take.

Lastly, bring an abundant supply of business cards as it is common to exchange these with everyone at the meeting.

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Wearing red is normally more appropriate at festivals or special events, as red symbolizes luck and fortune. Generally for business meetings people would not expect you to wear read but you are welcome to.

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White is the color of mourning and for that reason is often associated with death. Ancient Chinese people often wore white clothes and hats when they mourned for their dead. Black has a variety of symbolic meanings that include evil, corrupt, illegal, and greedy.

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