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China Business

Doing business with China can be a very lucrative opportunity. This opportunity will involve a rearrangement of your business codes and practices to compliment the Chinese ethics and culture. In China, business people and officials will expect something very different from you than you are used to in your native country. The following is an outline of some of the codes and practices of China.

Relationships
In China, business is a long-term relationship. If you have short-term goals with the Chinese market, you may have to rethink your strategy. Success in China is gained though building lasting relationships and earning "Guanxi". This is gained through trust, personal knowledge and understanding and is something that can only be achieved over time.

This is a foreign concept to many western businessmen who are used to doing transaction-based business. Contracts are drawn up, signed and then the two parties go their separate ways. In China, business is much more communicative both in the immediate and the long-term.

You will need to involve your Chinese partners with every step of the process, from the raw material to the final sale. Expect the relationship to be both personal and professional. In China there is no distinction between the two. You will need to interact on a social level with your new business acquaintances and be aware that there is no "off switch" for business. In other words there is no inappropriate time to discuss business matters.

Etiquette
You will need to thoroughly research and master all of the etiquette intricacies associated with Chinese business culture. Here are a few major points when dealing with Chinese partners.

Dining
Dining is an important part of the culture and you need to make sure you perform this correctly. You should make sure that you go to a grand restaurant where special arrangements have been made. When your guests are being seated, the hierarchy of the association needs to be acknowledged. Treatment of the individual differs depending on their rank in the business. You need to fully understand everyone’s role in the business and seat him or her accordingly. In china, business meals are required to be paid for by the host. If you are the guest, it is considered bad manners to offer to pay for the meal.

Gift giving
As previously established, the hierarchy of a company needs to be acknowledged and respected. This applies to gift giving as well. You cannot give the same gift to every member of a business. Make sure the senior member of a company gets a gift with the highest monetary value. 

Conversation
Avoid politics. This considered inappropriate public and group conversation. You should also talk positively about the city where the company comes from. Do not talk highly of a different city. You may think that you are praising China in general, but you will actually be offending your business partners. Intercity competition is fierce in China.