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6 tips to doing business in China

During Chinese New Year celebrations, it is traditional for Chinese families to clean their houses (sweeping away the bad luck to make way for the good luck) and wear new clothes. Families decorate their houses with red lanterns and usually gather with relatives for a big meal.
Lots of Chinese lanterns

This is just one of the many traditions and cultural differences present that can make doing business in China a potential mine field. If you are visiting China or planning to re-locate to China it is important to understand some of these differences before going so that you do not offend or become offended!

6 tips to doing business in China

Doing business in China can be very different to what you are used to. Here are 6 tips to help you:

1. The importance of building influential relationships or “Guanxi”

It can take over a year for Chinese business people to trust foreigners enough to achieve “Guanxi”. Hierarchy and respect are very important to Chinese businesspeople. Negotiations can take a lot longer with perhaps more pauses or silences than we are used to in British business meetings. Don’t get impatient as this could affect the relationship you are trying to build.

2. Losing face

It is crucial for a Chinese businessperson to never lose face during business negotiations. In fact, it could mean an end to further negotiations. In China, rather than face conflict, a business person may not disagree openly with your proposal. Instead they might use vague words such as “maybe” or “perhaps”. You should never press a Chinese businessperson for an answer that they have already shown reluctance to giving or become annoyed or aggressive with them.

3. Put everything in writing

When doing business with Chinese people it is important that everything is written in emails or documents in a clear and detailed way. This is to make sure that everyone understands the task at hand as the Chinese hate making mistakes.

4. Understanding Business Card etiquette

When exchanging business cards in China this should be done standing up using 2 hands. It is a mark of respect and seen as an honourable act.


5. After-work activities are important

These help build strong working relationships and are seen as a key part to doing business. So don’t be surprised if you end up going for a meal, singing karaoke or having a massage.

6. Dress to impress

In China, wearing formal business attire to business meetings is seen as a reflection of your seriousness to do business and also a sign of respect. You should never be late for a business meeting in China as that is considered disrespectful.

At Commercial Language Training our Mandarin training will not only equip you with the business language you need but it will also teach you about the social and cultural differences to expect when travelling or doing business there.

For more information on our Mandarin courses call today on +44 (0) 203 036 0770 or email info@languagetraining.com