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Eight Tips For Doing Business In China

With Chinese New Year upon us, we bring you some tips for when you decide to tap into the Chinese market.

China is arguably the biggest market in the world. It’s no wonder every Tom, Dick and Harrods wants a slice of that good ol’ Chinese pie. Although China is the new land of milk and honey, there are some things you need to know before jumping into the gold rush. brings you some handy tips that will ease you into the Mainland.

1. Old boys’ club 
It’s all about building connections and relationships in China. The Chinese will typically not do business with anyone they deem unworthy of their trust. The easiest way around this is to work with a local partner that has an in with the right movers and shakers.

2. Respect
The Chinese are extremely concerned with saving face. Don’t ever do anything that might disrespect or embarrass someone. On another note, never act as if your culture is superior to that of the Chinese. In their opinion, they have thousands more years of history and culture than any Western society. That means keeping your disparaging remarks about the country to yourself.

3. Be prepared 
Do your research on both the company you are looking to do business with and its key decision makers. On top of that, never enter into any meeting without being totally prepared and assuming that you’ll be able to wing it. The Chinese have zero respect for people whom they think are only capable of spewing a load of bull.

4. Assume nothing 
Do not assume what works in the West will work in the East. Case in point: eBay. Also, have everything down in writing, especially your intellectual property contracts. Never assume something will be done unless it can be legally enforced.

5. Go in for the long haul 
Building on the need for relationships, Chinese companies prefer to stick with partners they trust. As such, they prefer to go into long-term business relationships. When looking to do business with the Chinese, look at going in for the long haul that will ultimately be more beneficial for both parties.

6. Body language
Asians are known for being less outspoken — especially the Chinese. Foreigners often misread Chinese passiveness and silence for timidity. On the contrary, it is considered a loss of face to show emotion in front of someone they don’t know personally and they prefer to keep silent and form their own opinions about you.

7. Region coding
China is a really big country — so don’t assume that practices are applicable throughout. The Chinese themselves see many cultural differences even between northern and southern natives. People from northern China are typically more outspoken, straightforward and relaxed, while southerners are seen as more reserved, reflective and thoughtful.

8. Ready your liver
Despite popular belief, the Chinese are heavy drinkers. Most business talks are done over meals and, at such moments, alcohol is unavoidable. Aside from the usual beer and cognac present at such ‘meetings’, the dreaded baijiu will probably make an appearance. If you’re unaccustomed to baijiu, it is a Chinese spirit that can range from 40–70 percent abv. Good luck.