Chinese Business Tips

Tip 1
Guanxi, or personal relationships are of vital importance when doing business in China. Do not underestimate the importance of the relationship building process.

Tip 2
People are comfortable building relationships with honourable people who show respect to those to whom respect is due.

Tip 3
As all relationships are unequal it is important, if you wish to appear honourable, to show respect to age, seniority and educational background.

Tip 4
Managers tend to be directive, which reflects basic Confucian concepts of the hierarchical nature of society.

Tip 5
In return for loyalty, the boss is expected to show consideration and interest in all aspects of a subordinates life.

Tip 6
There are often close relationships between senior management of a company and local party officials.

Tip 7
It is important that you do not make people lose face in front of their group. Always respect seniority and do not openly disagree with people.

Tip 8
Do as many favours for people as possible – debts must always be repaid.

Tip 9
Business cards should be formally exchanged at the beginning of meetings. Treat the business card with great respect, as the card is the man.

Tip 10
Meetings are often long and seemingly without clear objectives. Very often the meeting is an exercise in relationship-building and the aim of the meeting is to move the relationship, rather than any specific business task, forward.

Tip 11
It can take several, very long meetings before any tangible progress is made. Patience is essential if you wish to capitalise on the situation.

Tip 12
The Chinese are very interested in long-term commitment. Build long-term goals and objectives into your proposals.

Tip 13
Do not be too direct. Strive for diplomacy, consensus and harmony. Remember that this takes time to achieve.

Tip 14
Do not assume comprehension. It is often useful to go over the same point several times from different angles in order to aid comprehension.

Tip 15
It is difficult for the Chinese to say no directly. Anything other than a direct yes could mean no. Be circumspect and reflect on seeming agreements reached. Has an agreement actually been reached?

Tip 16
It is difficult to read body language as, by western standards, it is somewhat muted in China. Be very alive to any changes of posture, animation etc.

Tip 17
Gift giving is an everyday part of Chinese business culture. Giving and receiving gifts helps to cement relationships. Take gifts with you when visiting and put some thought and effort into the gift selection process.

Tip 18
Always wrap gifts before giving them. Gifts are rarely opened in front of the giver.

Tip 19
The Chinese are an intensely patriotic race. Do not make disparaging remarks about China, the political situation, human rights etc.

Tip 20
Entertaining is very important in the relationship building process. If entertaining, do it well. If being entertained at a banquet, take you lead from your hosts – they will enjoy taking you through the process.


This country-specific business culture profile was written by Keith Warburton who is the founder of the cultural awareness training consultancy Global Business Culture

Global Business culture is a leading training provider in the fields of cross-cultural communication and global virtual team working.  We provide training to global corporations in live classroom-based formats, through webinars and also through our cultural awareness digital learning hub, Global Business Compass.

This World Business Culture profile is designed as an introduction to business culture in China only and a more detailed understanding needs a more in-depth exploration which we can provide through our training and consultancy services.

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