Work­ing in China

The vast dif­fer­ence be­tween China and the rest of the world makes liv­ing and work­ing in the coun­try an en­rich­ing and re­ward­ing ex­pe­ri­ence sel­dom found else­where.

China Pictorial (English) - - NEWS - Text by José A. Morente Pérez

Since the open­ing up of the coun­try to the out­side world, many things have changed in the so­cial and eco­nomic land­scape of China. Among those changes, one is quite no­tice­able: the ap­pear­ance of the for­eign work­ers. My love story with China started many years ago. Back in 2011, I took my first lessons in Chi­nese Cul­ture and Lan­guage at the Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute, and I will al­ways be grate­ful for the op­por­tu­nity to study at this school. The pro­fes­sion­al­ism of its teach­ers and staff was one of the rea­sons why I got hooked on Chi­nese lan­guage. At that time, the cen­tral rea­son I was in­ter­ested in the Chi­nese lan­guage was to use it to find out more about the cul­ture and even­tu­ally to travel around China. Work­ing in China was never part of the plan. Keep in mind that in 2011 China was not rec­og­nized as a world power— they did great host­ing the Olympic Games in 2008 but still had not reached the rep­u­ta­tion of an eco­nomic gi­ant, which the coun­try owns th­ese days.

I re­call that when I started study­ing Chi­nese, peo­ple saw me as a book­worm. But af­ter the “boom” of China’s econ­omy, sud­denly I be­came a smart young en­tre­pre­neur who had pre­dicted that China would lead the world in many ways. I re­ally did feel that Chi­nese would be­come the lan­guage of the fu­ture. How­ever, the prom­ise of a good and well-paid job was not enough to mo­ti­vate me to learn the dif­fi­cult lan­guage—to learn a lan­guage well, you have to like the coun­try, the lan­guage, its peo­ple and its cul­ture. China is a com­plex coun­try in the sense that you ei­ther love it or hate it. Most peo­ple I know love it and rec­og­nize its sta­tus as a truly fas­ci­nat­ing place. Chal­lenges and Re­wards

For the most part, work­ing in China as a for­eigner is like how it would be work­ing in many other coun­tries. Among the chal­lenges you ou may face in­clude get­ting used to the he food, learn­ing lo­cal lan­guages and lo­cal cus­toms and get­ting used to the busi­ness cul­ture. The bar­ri­ers of work­ing abroad are ob­vi­ous, but what about the height of those bar­ri­ers? Food in China is among the most pop­u­lar cuisines in the world—dras­tis­ti­cally dif­fer­ent from Western food, yet most peo­ple love it. The lan­guage is dif­fi­cult to learn, es­pe­cially for West­stern­ers, but that dif­fi­culty makes the e re­ward of learn­ing it much greater. Get­ting used to the lo­cal cul­ture and nd its cus­toms is key to the adap­ta­tion n process, but if you suc­ceed, a new world of knowl­edge and op­por­tu­ni­ties will open up be­fore your eyes. s. The dif­fer­ence be­tween China and the rest of the world makes liv­ing and work­ing in the coun­try an en­rich­ing g and re­ward­ing ex­pe­ri­ence sel­dom found else­where in the world.

My work­ing ad­ven­ture in China na started in Fuzhou, cap­i­tal of Fu­jian ian Prov­ince, and I still love this city. Ev­ery­thing went smoothly. I found nd

a job open­ing on the web, did some on­line in­ter­views, and af­ter a month of pa­per­work, I was on a plane to my des­ti­na­tion. It was not my first trip to China, and I could speak the lan­guage, so I was con­fi­dent. I was hired by a big Chi­nese com­pany with al­most three hun­dred em­ploy­ees, only four of whom were for­eign­ers. This was the best thing that could have hap­pened to me be­cause it im­proved my Chi­nese lan­guage skill dra­mat­i­cally.

When in China

Dur­ing my time work­ing for the Chi­nese com­pany, I also found the op­por­tu­nity to learn about the lo­cal busi­ness cul­ture—the dos and don’ts and what peo­ple ex­pect in ba­sic in­ter­ac­tions. China is dif­fer­ent from many places in this re­gard. You have to an­a­lyze and un­der­stand those dif­fer­ences if you want to fully en­joy your ex­pe­ri­ence. For those who may won­der about the re­quire­ments for a work visa in China, work ex­pe­ri­ence and a uni­ver­sity de­gree are usu­ally needed, but you should dou­ble check ev­ery­thing well in ad­vance to avoid sur­prises.

Some­times the fur­ther you go from home, the closer it gets to your heart, and even­tu­ally I saw the sun­set of my time at the Chi­nese com­pany with the op­por­tu­nity to work for a Span­ish com­pany op­er­at­ing in China. Once again, the work­ing en­vi­ron­ment changed, and along with it, I found new things to learn and to dis­cover. My sec­ond and cur­rent job in China ar­rived through “guanxi” (net­work con­nec­tions). For cer­tain, “guanxi” is some­thing you need in China as in many other coun­tries. The Chi­nese un­der­stand that the road to suc­cess is usu­ally paved with a vast net­work of con­tacts, and the term is a light­ning rod for Chi­nese cul­ture. So if you come to China to work, get ready to hear the word and find out its real mean­ing and im­por­tance. Also re­mem­ber “gan bei,” which lit­er­ally means “dry cup” and is spo­ken like “cheers” when mak­ing a toast. It is fre­quently heard when Chi­nese peo­ple dine for so­cial or busi­ness pur­poses.

So­cial and busi­ness re­la­tions in China are com­plex and there­fore dif­fi­cult to un­der­stand for for­eign­ers—how to prop­erly ad­dress su­pe­ri­ors or avoid mak­ing peo­ple lose face in front of oth­ers. Seat­ing eti­quette, how to toast, what to ex­pect dur­ing a busi­ness meet­ing, the im­por­tance of punc­tu­al­ity dur­ing a meet­ing and how to in­ter­pret fa­cial ex­pres­sions and body lan­guage are among the ba­sic norms you must be­come aware of.

There are plenty of other con­sid­er­a­tions to be made be­fore com­ing to China to work. For ex­am­ple, when choos­ing which area of the coun­try to work in, I rec­om­mend do­ing some re­search in ad­vance to find out the main in­dus­tries and re­sources in the area. For ex­am­ple, it is easy to find an It-re­lated po­si­tion or op­er­ate your own busi­ness in cities such as Shen­zhen, Hangzhou and Bei­jing.

The busi­ness world in China is ex­tremely dy­namic. Lo­cal peo­ple are al­ways en­thu­si­as­tic about hear­ing good ideas over a cup of tea (or beer) and chat­ting about fea­si­ble projects. This dy­namism along with the drive of Chi­nese peo­ple to achieve new goals and grasp suc­cess makes China the per­fect place to ful­fill your dreams. What once was the Amer­i­can Dream is now Chi­nese.

May 23, 2009: Over 130 for­eign­ers who work or study in Nan­jing, cap­i­tal of Jiangsu Prov­ince, cel­e­brate the Dragon Boat Fes­ti­val by par­tic­i­pat­ing in a rice dumpling-mak­ing com­pe­ti­tion. VCG

Jan­uary 18, 2012: Ger­man busi­ness­man Bernd Forster (right) cel­e­brates the Spring Fes­ti­val with his wife Guo Zhonghua (sec­ond left), kids and em­ploy­ees in his home in Yiwu, Zhe­jiang Prov­ince. VCG

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