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Top Ten Chinese Cultural Rules for Doing Business in China

By Raj Abbacus
June 8, 2015
Business in China


This week China2West’s blog will be doing a series of posts about doing business in China. Doing business in China should be seen as a fun and exciting adventure, however business culture is very different in China. To ensure that you follow the business etiquette in China here is a top ten list of things about business etiquette you must know before doing business within China.

1. Connect

connect with someone who has business and developing strategic relationships in China. From this person you will be able to get a valuable knowledge to allow your business in China to go as smooth as possible. Make sure your connection is someone who you can trust

2. Develop a network

Cultivate contacts with as many people as possible in China in order to find the right decision makers. Understand that majority of Chinese businessmen will want to get to know you on a personal level. Therefore to have as many contacts as possible is key to good business practices.

3. Language and culture

Knowledge of the culture and language is key. Even basic understandings will go a long way and your hosts will appreciate your initiative. Chinese businessmen do not expect you to be fluent within Chinese; however a shown effort to understand the culture will go down very well. Pay in particular notice to meal time etiquette as it is likely you will engage in social activities with your partner before working together.

4. Business cards

Exchanging business cards is an important practice when doing business in China. Bring sufficient to business meetings, preferably ones written in English on one side and in Chinese on the other. You must take time to learn how to properly give and receive business cards. This lack of research can make sure a avoidable bad first impression does not occur.

5. Don’t say no

Avoid the word “no” in your business dealings. “Perhaps,” “we’ll see” and other vague words are better. Saying no is not common in the Chinese language so can be seen as very rude to the Chinese.

6. New opportunities

Keep an open mind for new and creative opportunities as the Chinese market is opening up there is always new opportunities arising. With the implementation of the ‘Made in China 2025’ concentrating on innovation China is soon becoming the land of opportunity.

7. Intensive negotiations

Expect long and arduous negotiations until the very end.

8. Be patient

Be prepared and be patient. Accept the delays that may occur. Due to the weak legal system to enforce laws, Chinese tend to establish strong relationships before closing deals.

9. Know business law

Before establishing a formal business relationship, understand the difference between a Joint Venture (JV), a Wholly Foreign Owned Enterprise (WFOE) and a Representative Office (RO).

10. Be humble Humility is a virtue in the Chinese business culture. In most instances, exaggerated claims will be discounted.