possible, obtain an introduction. Connections and relationships,
known as quanxi, are very important. The right connections can
ensure you an attentive audience for your proposal and subsequent
interactions. Guanxi also incorporates an element of graft, for
those who have the connections will often try to profit from
them. Guanxi creates an interdependency
between the two parties because favors received must be reciprocated at
some future time.
- If you are
representing a well known international company, you can send a letter
to the senior
most person in a Chinese company in which you state your purpose for
contacting him or her. However, quanxi, will give you the right
- When sending
an initial letter it is a good idea to have the letter translated into
Chinese. It is not necessary to translate everything you send to
China. Make sure there is sufficient interest on the other end
before you translate
much of your marketing literature and the like, because translation
could become expensive.
- You should
hire a local representative or consultant to monitor deals and
relationships in your
absence and to maintain a constant presence for your company in
This is particularly important if you are sourcing from or selling to
China. When hiring a local representative, be sure to carefully
check references and to obtain a list of his or her former and current
clients. With the increased interest in China, there are numerous
people and individuals in China to be able to work the magic in
addition to having high level contacts.
- Once you
have decided to visit China, either you, your counterpart, or local
representatives should schedule meetings for you at least one to tow
weeks in advance of your arrival. Before your arrival, make your
desires regarding accommodations and the
like known to your business contact. This can be particularly
if you represent a small firm with limited budget. The Chinese
to believe that all foreigners, particularly Westerners, are wealthy
can therefore afford to pay for all services. Arrangements may be
made without consulting you and you may be overwhelmed with
hospitality. You should feel comfortable in politely declining
any service that you do not want.
visitors can be surprised to discover that their Chinese business
contact will make an effort to keep them entertained at all
times. In China, a host's responsibility includes fulfilling
needs and ensuring the comfort, care and protection
of their guests. If you wish to spend some time alone, indicate
usually greet one another with a slight bow or nod of the head.
In business and with foreigners, a handshake is common upon greeting
early indicates respect for the host. Although the Chinese are
not always on time, punctuality is viewed as a positive asset in others.
pride themselves on holding their feelings inside, therefore, they may
not smile at a first greeting or as often as people do in some other
- Business cards, called name cards (ming pianr) by the
Chinese, are presented when everyone first meets. They should be
received with both hands.
- It is advisable to hire a translator.
- Chinese have a high regard for rank and seniority. The
Chinese will be impressed by and are usually more attentive to senior
representatives of foreign firms. Ranking your company can help
to impress the Chinese, especially if you are the biggest or the oldest.
- There are about one hundred widely used family names.
The five most common surnames are Chang (Chan in Cantonese), Wang, Li,
and Liu. Although many of the surnames may be pronounced the
the Chinese characters can be different. In China, the family
precedes the given name, which is occasionally followed by the second
or the western equivalent of a first name. For example, Huang Hua
would be called Mr. Huang, and Hua would be his given name.
some Chinese will switch the order of their names when they are dealing
with foreigners. Further, many Chinese adopt given names, many of
which are Western names. Official and occupation related titles,
as Dr., Mayor, Ambassador, are used wherever appropriate. Married
women rarely take their husband's family name.
- It is
establish a smooth business relationship and friendship. Trust
cooperation are key. Meetings often begin with small talk
tea, and appropriate topics include the weather and your recent
Then, will be built on to more serious topics. It is important to
be patient. The Chinese tend to maintain a level of formality in
early stages of a relationship. This fosters respect for each
and ensures that contacts will proceed harmoniously. To become
too quickly would upset the balance the Chinese require to develop a
business and personal relationship. Avoid discussing political and
rights issues. These topics can be very sensitive and may place
Chinese counterpart in an awkward position because Chinese people are
allowed to publicly criticize the government.
- Gift are not
required or expected at initial meetings. You may present a small
sample of your company's product or an item with a corporate
anything more elaborate or expensive will be inappropriate.
- Due to the
vastness of China, different Chinese have varying business
styles. The Cantonese tend to be more Westernized due to the
influences of Hong Kong and constant contact with Western traders for
hundreds of years. They are more accustomed to doing business with
foreigners and are more efficient. However,
Cantonese business people can often be more adamant about having things
their own way and so foreigners should be firm about their position in
usually conduct business over lunch and dinner, and deals are often
concluded over a meal. Entertaining is a critical part of Chinese
- Chinese pay
deal of attention to details. Most negotiations are divided into
phases: technical and business issues. The Chinese will utilize
technical experts to focus on the technical phase until they are
with basic issues or quality and usefulness. Make sure to include
at least one technical expert in your negotiation team.
- It should be
that the Chinese often hesitate to provide information out of concern
someone will use it against them. Use mutual contacts to assist
you are concerned about establishing trust and credibility with your
counterpart, if negotiations stall, or you encounter disagreements.
officials who are responsible for negotiating deals often do not have
the authority to commit financial resources. Be flexible and
creative in your approach, but do not lose sight of your business
interests. In many instances, even small changes to existing
agreements cannot be made without the approval of senior officials.
- Chinese do
to say no or to be the bearers of negative news. They will hint
indirectly in the conversation. Similarly, you will hear a yes
response to almost everything. You should be careful of these
empty yes as it may not
always draw positive conclusions. Verify what has been said to
It is important that all parties maintain "face". If you think
answer to an issue is really no, verify your feeling by asking
that can be answered positively.
- Be prepared
for tough negotiations. Adhere to your principles and objectives.
Maintain a quiet and dignified manner. If problems develop, you
should be firm about your limits and your willingness to work with your
counterparts to find a mutually agreeable solution.
- Most of
China's business world slows down considerably during the spring
festival in late January and early February. Business visitors
would be wise to avoid this two to three week holiday period.
- In most
cities in China, businesses and government offices are usually open
Monday through Friday and every other Saturday from 8 am to noon and
from 1:00 to 2:00 pm to 5:00 or 6:00 pm. China has a five and a
half day workweek consisting of 44 hours. Banks are open Monday
to Saturday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. Shops are open everyday.