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Disadvantages of doing Business in China

By Manoj Shivnani

My more than 10 yrs experience in import & export with china has taught me that the main disadvantages of doing business in china are related to the language, the meaning of a customer and the meaning of quality.

The 3 main disadvantages are:

1. The understanding of the language english: As you know, the business language is english. What happens, is that they have learnt the language as a text book. That is, they will be very good in writing and reading but their “listening” will be quite poor.

Note that there are many and each day more and more exeptions to the above, specially with the enormous amounts of chinese students who study abroad and then come back to their country to do business.

Due to the above you got to understand NOT TO USE COMPLICATED WORDS. Try and speak simple english and you will avoid many of the disadvantages of doing business in china, which mostly arise due to communication issues.

2. The meaning of a life time customer: The chinese have a very shortterm mentality due to mostly cultural, and historial factors. Due to this they don’t see the business relationship as long term. No matter how much you tell them, and no matter how much they speak about it, they believe that the customer will sooner or later go to someone else. It is like if they don’t really care since they know that if you don’t buy or invest, somebody else will.

Of course there are exceptions to the rule, and I suggest that when you do find a long-term mentality supplier or partner, stick to him, he will save you a lot of time, effort and money.

You should hence, realise the fact that you need to always have a range of potential suppliers and “friends” to turn to in case the service you receive does go down. Many foreigners just believe that they hit the jackpot once they do one deal and they just sit back and expect a level of service like they receive in their country without realising that the supplier will in most cases look first at the money he is going to make in that deal rather than during the duration of the relationship.

3. The meaning of quality: I love this word. It is the most used word in China apart from “yes, no and sorry”. Everything seems to be of such a high quality in China, that the word itself has lost its meaning. As Timothy Ferris says in his book “the four hour workweek”, the more you use a word, the more it looses its meaning.

For China quality means “that it looks the same”. I stress the words IT LOOKS. Their way of seeing reality is different and you cant blame them. They don’t know how to create things ( contrary to the Japanese), they only know how to best copy it so it LOOKS the same.

Due to the above, it is a normal disadvantage in doing business in China the fact that you got to stress and stress over and over again the fact that you don’t want it to look the same, but rather that you WANT IT THE SAME. This means inside,outside, the raw materials used, the finishing, the strength, etc,etc,etc.

About the author:
The author is a China Business Expert, entrepreneur and self made businessman. He has been dealing with China for over 10 years now, both for his own import & wholesale business as well as for some of his customers where he acts as an intermediary and consultant in the supplyside purchasing cycle. You will find many more and free resources, articles, tips and suggestions other than why epand your business to china in his site, www.freechinaadvice.com.


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