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Blog Understanding Chinese Business Culture

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Understanding Chinese Business Culture

by Bobby Lee | 30 September 2016


Opportunities are rapidly growing for entrepreneurs looking to do business in China. With cities like Shenzhen, Hong Kong, and Qianhai that offers your company manufacturing resources to meet your production needs it is important to understand the Chinese business culture and ensure that your business will appeal to the Chinese market before trying to establish your company.


While the westerners often show characteristics which include a fast-paced way of doing things with no intention to slow things down. Doing business in China means that you will have to adapt interaction in such a way that makes sense to them. The eastern business culture relies heavily on relationship building, and bringing out the contract too early in negotiation is seen as a sign of little faith.

When negotiating with the Chinese, remember that they have a different outlook on life. While westerners will often bargain between alternatives that are mutually exclusive, either choice A or B, the Chinese would augment choice through selective picking.

Here are some short tips to consider before engaging in business in China

  • Build relationship - Quanxi (personal relations), is maybe one of the most important things to take into account.
  • Diplomacy - do not be too direct let the conversations progress in harmony
  • Give business gifts, it may help cement the relationship over time
  • Do not give compliments too often as it may lose sincerity
  • While in western culture making fun of people in a joking manner may be ok or funny, it does not translate to Chinese culture
  • Always treat people with respect, especially seniority, age, and education
  • Help out others as much as possible, debts is always to be repaid
  • Have patience - meetings can be long and without direction, Chinese culture views meetings as relationship building
  • Long term commitment should be viewed as the main goal

For a more in-depth introduction to Cultural difference in business, and why building a relationship is so important to the Chinese, have a look at this TED talk with Valerie Hoeks. 

 10 step guide to Chinese Business Culture & Etiquette


Topics: Doing Business in China

Bobby Lee

Bobby Lee

Helping make China companies easy since 2007 as a Senior Consultant