China's Foreign Trade (English) - - Education & Culture -

oing busi­ness in China means that busi­ness peo­ple will come into in­creas­ingly fre­quent con­tact with Chi­nese busi­ness peo­ple and of­fi­cials. It is im­per­a­tive that those doing busi­ness in China learn about ar­eas such busi­ness cul­ture, busi­ness eti­quette, meet­ing protocol and ne­go­ti­a­tion tech­niques in or­der to max­i­mize the po­ten­tial of their busi­ness trip.

First, you’ll find it ben­e­fi­cial to bring your own in­ter­preter, if pos­si­ble, to help you un­der­stand the sub­tleties of ev­ery­thing be­ing said dur­ing meet­ings.

Speak in short, sim­ple, sen­tences free of jar­gon and slang. Pause fre­quently, so that peo­ple will be able to un­der­stand ev­ery­thing you've said. You will have to make pre­sen­ta­tions to dif­fer­ent lev­els of the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Be­fore you ar­rive, have at least 20 copies of your pro­posal ready for dis­tri­bu­tion. Gen­er­ally, the Chi­nese treat “out­side” in­for­ma­tion with cau­tion.

Ex­cept for those ed­u­cated in the West, Chi­nese busi­ness peo­ple largely rely on sub­jec­tive feel­ings and per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ences in form­ing opin­ions and solv­ing prob­lems.

Be­lief in the gov­ern­ment’s pol­icy line will be a dom­i­nant in­flu­ence in all ne­go­ti­a­tions. In China, re­spon­si­bil­ity for all de­ci­sions rests with the gov­ern­ment and as­sorted gov­ern­ment bu­reau­crats. In­di­vid­u­als work­ing within this net­work, how­ever, are still ac­count­able for their own ac­tions.

Lo­cal de­ci­sions are made by the head of the col­lec­tive. In Chi­nese busi­ness cul­ture, the col­lec­tivist way of think­ing still pre­vails, even in sec­tors ex­per­i­ment­ing with free en­ter­prise.

“Sav­ing face” is an im­por­tant con­cept to un­der­stand. In Chi­nese busi­ness cul­ture, a per­son's rep­u­ta­tion and so­cial stand­ing rests on this con­cept. Caus­ing em­bar­rass­ment or loss of com­po­sure, even un­in­ten­tion­ally, can be dis­as­trous for busi­ness ne­go­ti­a­tions.

The Chi­nese are very keen about ex­chang­ing busi­ness cards, so be sure to bring a plen­ti­ful sup­ply. En­sure that one side is in English and the other is in Chi­nese.

In­clude your pro­fes­sional ti­tle on your busi­ness card, es­pe­cially if you have the se­nior­ity to make de­ci­sions. In Chi­nese busi­ness cul­ture, the main point of ex­chang­ing busi­ness cards is to de­ter­mine who will be the key de­ci­sion­mak­ers on your side. If your com­pany is the old­est or largest in your coun­try, or has an­other pres­ti­gious dis­tinc­tion, en­sure that this is stated on your card. Present your card with two hands, and en­sure that the Chi­nese side is fac­ing the re­cip­i­ent.

When re­ceiv­ing a busi­ness card, make a show of ex­am­in­ing it care­fully for a few mo­ments; then, care­fully place it into your card case or on the ta­ble, if you are seated at one.

In ac­cor­dance with Chi­nese busi­ness protocol, peo­ple are ex­pected to en­ter the meet­ing room in hi­er­ar­chi­cal or­der. For ex­am­ple, the Chi­nese will as­sume that the first for­eigner to en­ter the room is head of the del­e­ga­tion.

Since there is such a strong em­pha­sis on hi­er­ar­chy in Chi­nese busi­ness cul­ture, en­sure that you bring a se­nior mem­ber of your or­ga­ni­za­tion to lead the ne­go­ti­a­tions on your be­half. The Chi­nese will do the same.

Only the se­nior mem­bers of your group are ex­pected to lead the dis­cus­sion. In­ter­rup­tions of any kind from sub­or­di­nates may be con­sid­ered shock­ing by the Chi­nese.

In Chi­nese busi­ness cul­ture, hu­mil­ity is a virtue. Ex­ag­ger­ated claims are re­garded with sus­pi­cion and, in most in­stances, will be in­ves­ti­gated.

The Chi­nese will not di­rectly say “no” to you. In­stead, am­biva­lent an­swers such as “per­haps”, “I'm not sure”, “I'll think about it”, or “We'll see” usu­ally mean “no”.

The Chi­nese tend to ex­tend ne­go­ti­a­tions well be­yond the of­fi­cial dead­line to gain ad­van­tage. On the fi­nal day of your visit, they even may try to rene­go­ti­ate ev­ery­thing.

Be pa­tient, show lit­tle emo­tion, and calmly ac­cept that de­lays will oc­cur. You may have to make sev­eral trips to China to achieve your ob­jec­tives. Chi­nese busi­ness peo­ple pre­fer to es­tab­lish a strong re­la­tion­ship be­fore clos­ing a deal.


Wǒzàinǎr kěyǐ zhǎodào yīyuàn? Where can I find the hospi­tal?

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