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How to do business in China

By Joseph Lee

It is not surprising at all when many foreign investors complained when they do business in China. Many wondered why their years of experience in the business world could not be applied in China immediately. Doing business is about building mutual trust and benefit amidst establishing relationship with people. If you do not understand your counterpart well, it will be quite difficult to establish good cooperation with him/her. An old Chinese saying goes: know yourself and your enemy well and you can fight a hundred battles without any fear of defeat. This greatly emphasized the importance of knowing and understanding your counterpart.

Modern economic model differ greatly from the traditional one, whereby people in the past ‘fight’ till the last man standing. Today, people seek to achieve a “win-win” situation, and pursue long-term trade cooperation under a fair and healthy competition environment. Understanding factors such as China’s history, humanity and culture will be the key to investors’ success in China. As Western thinking and China’s traditional values do differ, encountering the culture differences is therefore inevitable, thus a better understanding of the cultural differences is necessary when doing business in China:

1. Learn how to handle Guangxi (relationship)

In China, Guangxi (relationship) is a complicated field. Establishing relationship with others does not mainly deal with achieving own self-interests or personal goals. A special feature of doing business in China will be that Guangxi (relationship) in China will have to include relationship with the government body, investors, partners and even relationship with your own staff. China government plays a large role in administrating the investment in China. This is because China is a socialist state; the economy is still largely controlled and managed by the government, so when doing business in China, it is important for foreign investors to learn to coordinate with the China government. At the same time, seeking a suitable local partner may be a shortcut and helping hand in developing your business in China market.

2. How to prevail over competition

China, at the moment, can be said to be a big, open market, and the ability to prevail over competition is a very important issue today. Investors should fully realize and maximize one's advantages. Some investors are afraid that the China’s imitation products will hurt the sale of their products. Even though this symptom is worrying, however in a free and competitive market, it will always be one that has the superior quality that will not be afraid of competition and will prevail eventually. China market is constantly undergoing standardization, and the China government has vowed to protect the quality of the market.

The Vice-Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation had previously stated in his speech that being a member of the World Trade Organization, China government will continuously rectify and standardize the economic structure of the market, and will persistently crack down illegal acts of producing counterfeit products. Technology level in China is still relatively lagging behind, thus foreign investors should fully make use of their advantages in technology and expertise to produce high-quality products and services. One should not be over worried about the negative impact brought about by new counterfeited products. Continuous development of one’s technology and emphasizing on innovation will be the key to success.

3. Route for Investment

There are three options to take when make investments in China, mainly: wholly foreign-owned enterprise, Chinese-foreign cooperative enterprise and Sino-foreign joint venture. Which option to take will have to depend on factors such as the investors' investment direction, investment environment, and the amount of investment to be undertaken. Generally speaking, wholly foreign-owned enterprise require examination and approval from many government bodies and this process can be quite hassle and time-consuming. Government procedures for establishing Chinese-foreign joint venture and contractual joint ventures will be even more and the process will require even more from more government bodies. Thus Sino-foreign joint venture appears to be the ideal investment option as less governmental procedures and authorization time will be required. Possibility of encountering hiccups will be smaller.

About the Author:

Joseph Lee is a consultant of Starmass International. Starmass is one-stop consulting service provider to assist foreign companies to achieve China market entry from China market research, China market analysis till establishment of sales channels. Visit more business resources at: http://www.starmass.com


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