Do’s and Don’ts in Doing Business in China
Every country has its values and culture that define its way of doing business. Although we all get impressed by developed countries, successful nations don’t copy them, but they try to achieve success by following their culture. China is one such country. If you want to start your business in China, then you need to adopt the Chinese business culture. As a foreign entrepreneur, you need to learn how to get along with Chinese counterparts. Knowing the Chinese traditions and culture is important to prepare yourself for Chinese business deals, no matter how experienced you are.
Let’s have a look at do’s and don’ts in Chinese business culture that will help you in making your business successful and avoid any pitfalls.
Negotiation in Chinese Culture
- If you don’t know the Chinese language well, then it is recommended to take your Chinese interpreter with you when you are going for business negotiation. The interpreter will help you understand the terminologies used in business negotiation, especially when business talks are held in the Chinese language.
- If you want to know how business decisions are made in your organization, then you need to know family relationships rather than the organizational structure of the company.
- In conducting business meetings, you are required to make different presentations at different levels because the structure of organizations in China are highly hierarchical.
- Prepare a presentation in black and white and avoid colors. Be prepared for the meetings and get 20 copies of your proposal to give handouts to the audience.
- Meetings are started with small talks.
- Chinese people tend to develop a strong relationship before closing a deal, so you have to conduct meetings several times so that your deal gets finalized.
- Meetings in Chinese culture can be arranged and canceled on short notice and meetings can also be held on weekends.
- You need to be very calm and composed during business negotiations. If you lack patience, then it can result in business deal failure.
- When people in China enter the conference room for the meeting, they enter in a hierarchical order. It means that the head of the meeting enters the room first.
- The working hours for business are from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm from Monday to Friday.
- To show professionalism and to have a good impression on the other party, Chinese people use business cards with one side in English and the other side in Chinese. Chinese characters should be accurate and precise.
- The business card in Chinese culture is presented with both hands because it is considered to be a precious thing.
- When you receive a business card then it is recommended to read and praise the content and place it in your valet. You can also place it in front of your table.
- In the business negotiation, it is required to shake hands firmly, speak loud, and lead the conversation. The chain of command is followed and the junior assistants cannot interrupt during the conversation.
- When the meeting ends, all of them are required to leave the meeting room hierarchically.
- Networking in the Chinese world is more important than written documents.
- As a foreign entrepreneur, you need to visit China frequently to show your presence and to develop a business relationship with Chinese stakeholders.
- In Chinese culture, politeness and humility are given great importance. They are not straightforward. If they want to say no, they will say like I need to think or I am not sure.
- Chinese people keep the business negotiations going so you don’t get tired by resuming the business negotiations again.
Some Quick Tips
- English is a language of global business, but not all the businesses in the world are conducted in English. So you need to know the Chinese language and its different dialects.
- You should practice speaking slowly.
- Pronounce the words with clarity.
- Avoid jokes and slang in business communication.
- Use proper graphics in the presentation.
- Doing business in China is all about making relationships so you need to attend business meals.
- Business meals include lunch or dinner in China, and breakfast is omitted.
- Dinner time is from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. and it lasts for a few hours.
- You need to sit in a business meal when you are asked by the host.
- The guest of the honor is seated in the middle of the table and his seat is always reserved. The guest needs to sit to the left of the host.
- You cannot start eating in business meals before the host because it is considered rude.
- Chinese cuisine comprises a lot of different delicious dishes like a combination of vegetables, meat, and fish.
- Normally Rice is served at the end of the meal, but you can also ask for a bowl of rice in-between.
- Tea is a famous drink in China and alcohol is served complimentary to check the true face of business partners. If you don’t want to drink alcohol, you can replace it with soft drinks.
- In the Chinese culture, the host rotates the toast after giving a little speech about the acknowledgment of good food and tells about good business relationships. The hosts end their speech by saying ‘ganbai’ that means bottoms up. You also need to make a speech when toast reaches you.
- It is very common in China to invite your Chinese business partners for lunch or dinner, but do not make lunch or dinner lavish otherwise your Chinese partner will lose face.
- You can take your Chinese business partners to a good Chinese restaurant or any foreign restaurant if they have a taste for western food.
- Giving tips in Chinese culture is considered an insult.
- Chinese people usually do chit chat before going for serious business talks. They do ask about your views about China and Chinese food. You should take part in their conservation to build a rapport with them.
- Chinese people will get impressed by you if they know that you are aware of Chinese culture, history, and geography.
- Some topics are very sensitive for Chinese people like the China-Taiwan dispute and Tibet issue.
- If you learn some Chinese words then you will be able to impress your Chinese business partners. They will appreciate your linguistic skill, no matter how bad your pronunciation is.
- Your body posture should be attentive and formal and you need to stay calm and composed during meetings.
- Use your hands appropriately. Biting the nails, putting your hands in a mouth are considered very rude in Chinese business culture.
You can operate and expand your business smoothly without any legal implications if you understand the business culture of China. In case you need business document translation, Chinese Translation Services has got you covered!