Top 8 Cultural Rules for Doing Business in China
1. Form a connection with someone who has first hand experience conducting business and developing strategic relationships in China.
2. When in China, cultivate contacts with many people in order to find the right decision makers.
3. Knowledge of the culture and language is key. Even basic understandings will go a long way and your hosts will appreciate your initiative.
4. The Chinese are very keen about exchanging business cards. Bring plenty with you to business meetings, preferably ones written in English on one side and in Chinese on the other. Learn how to present them to your Chinese counterparts.
5. Avoid the word "no" in your business dealings. "Perhaps," "we'll see" and other ambiguous words are more appropriate.
6. Humility is a virtue in the Chinese business culture. In most instances, exaggerated claims will be discounted.
7. Expect long and arduous negotiations, even at the very end.
8. Be prepared and be patient. Accept the delays that may occur. The Chinese prefer to establish strong relationships before closing deals because of the lack of a strong legal system to enforce contracts. Keep an open mind for new and creative opportunities.
Top 8 Prerequisites for Sourcing Project in China
1. Stable design with little revisions needed and obtainable technology;
2. Detailed technical specifications available, such as engineering drawings, prototypes, production samples;
3. Labor-intensive product(s);
4. Realistic, well-researched target price；
5. Initial order is at least one container load (20' or 40' container) of items which freight cost is an insignificant part of total cost;
6. Estimate of annual volume based on solid market research and client demand;
7. Minimum 90 to 120 days lead time for initial order;
8. Potential to be an on-going or expanding programme.
Top 8 Things to Know about Chinese Communication
1. The traditional Chinese "handshake" consists of interlocking the fingers of the hands and waving them up and down several times. This is rarely used today (except during festivals, weddings and birthdays of the elderly), and the Western-style handshake is used by most everyone. When greeting, a slight bow often accompanies the handshake, but do not bow from the waist in the style of the Japanese. While a firm grip is expected in the West, the Chinese employ a gentler handshake. Except for shaking hands, do not touch anyone unless you know them very well. Never embrace or slap a Chinese associate on the back.
2. Business cards are routinely exchanged at the first meeting. Be sure that one side of your card has been translated into Chinese. Include your company's name, your job title and any special qualifications you have. When receiving a card from a Chinese businessman, take it with both hands and compliment something about it; be sure to keep it on the table in front of you for the entire meeting.
3. Chinese names are "reversed" from Western names. The surname is said first and then the given name. For example, Bruce Lee's name in Cantonese is Lee Siu Lung. Lee is his surname and spoken first, and the given name (Little Dragon) is spoken second. Professional, social, and family titles always follow the name as well. Dr. Wong would be Huang Yi Sheng (Huang Doctor). Likewise, Xiansheng (Mr.) and Taitai (Mrs.) are said after the surname. Never call someone by only his last name, and unless specifically asked, do not call someone by his first name; always address your Chinese associates by their surname followed by their title. Also, never address anyone as "Comrade."
4. The Chinese will often avoid eye contact during conversations, especially when talking to the opposite sex or to strangers. Traditionally, it was considered impolite and aggressive to look directly into another's eyes while talking, and as a sign of respect, the Chinese sometimes lower their eyes slightly when they meet others. The Chinese typically have a "blank" facial expression during introductions. This is not a sign of unhappiness, dissatisfaction, or unfriendliness, but reflects the belief that there is virtue in concealing emotions. Chinese communication is ambiguous, indirect and highly contextual. In conversation, the real meaning, especially if it's negative, is often implied rather than stated. What is not said is often more important that what is said.
5. Lavish gift-giving was once an important part of Chinese culture. Today, official policy forbids gift-giving as it can be considered bribery. Though the policy is softening, there may be times when a gift will absolutely not be accepted. Should you find yourself in this situation, graciously say you understand and withdraw the gift. Smaller, less expensive items will not be seen as a bribe, but in any case, you will have to approach gift-giving with discretion. The Chinese do not usually accept a gift, invitation or favor when it is first presented, but will politely refuse two or three times to reflect modesty and humility. Accepting something in haste makes a person look aggressive and greedy, as does opening it in front of the giver.
6. Six, eight and nine are considered lucky numbers, since their homophones have auspicious meanings. Six, liu in Chinese, implies that everything about you will go smoothly. Eight was originally deemed lucky by the Cantonese, since in Cantonese, the word for eight is fa, which means to make a great fortune in the near future. Later, the auspiciousness of eight was taken up by all Chinese. Nine, jiu, implies everlasting, especially in friendship and marriage. Four and seven are unlucky numbers; the former implies death and the latter means gone.
7. Color symbolism is very important in China. Red is lucky and used in celebrations, but never use red ink to write cards or letters, as it symbolizes the end of a relationship. Yellow is associated with prosperity, and gold is especially felicitous. In contrast with Western cultures, white signifies death.
8. Instead of serving dishes individually as in the West - where everyone has his own portion of food on a single plate - the Chinese typically share food from a number of dishes placed in the center of the table. Each person sitting around the table takes food from the common plates. Sometimes, in order to show their friendship and sincerity, Chinese hosts will pick from dishes with their own chopsticks or spoons for you, and place food on your plate. Never place your chopsticks upright in a rice bowl; it replicates the bowl of sand or rice with two upright incense sticks that is traditionally placed at the shrine of deceased loved one.
Top 8 Guidelines to Gift-Giving in China
1. Lavish gift-giving was once an important part of Chinese culture. Today, official policy forbids gift-giving as it can be considered bribery. Though the policy is softening, there may be times when a gift will absolutely not be accepted. Should you find yourself in this situation, graciously say you understand and withdraw the gift. Smaller, less expensive items will not be seen as a bribe, but in any case, you will have to approach gift-giving with discretion.
2. The Chinese do not usually accept a gift, invitation or favor when it is first presented, but will politely refuse two or three times to reflect modesty and humility. Accepting something in haste makes a person look aggressive and greedy, as does opening it in front of the giver.
3. When or if a gift is given, it should be offered with two hands. Any gift offered with two hands should always be received with two hands.
4. It's traditional to bring a gift when invited to someone's home. Fresh flowers or fruit are your best bet, and it is a good idea to bring eight, rather than the typical Western dozen. Eight is a lucky number. The more expensive the gift, the more respectful, but don't go over the top or you will embarrass your hosts, who may feel the need to go out of their way to return your generosity. It is likely that your gift will not be opened in front of you as your hosts do not want to appear greedy or ungrateful.
5. Never give a clock as a gift. Traditional superstitions regard this as counting the seconds to the recipient's death. Another interpretation of this is that the phrase "to give clock" in Chinese is song zhong, which is a homophone of a phrase for attending a funeral.
6. Also avoid giving fans. The word fan (shan) sounds like san, meaning scatter or to loose. San kai means to split up. Traditionally, the bride gives her parents a fan, symbolizing that she is leaving them for her husband.
7. Gifts from your own country are always welcome and very much appreciated. Don't wrap any gifts from home before arriving in China, as they may be unwrapped in Customs.
8. If possible, have your gifts wrapped in red paper, which is considered a lucky color. Pink, gold and silver are also acceptable colors for gift wrap. Gifts wrapped in yellow paper with black writing are given only to the dead. Also, check on the regional variations of color meanings - a safe color in Beijing could get you in trouble in Shenzhen. Your safest option is to entrust the task of gift-wrapping to a store or hotel that offers this service.