Business in China,Doing Business in China

Doing business in China means that business people will come into increasingly frequent contact with Chinese business people and officials. It is imperative that those doing business in China learn about areas such business culture, business etiquette, meeting protocol and negotiation techniques in order to maximise the potential of their business trip.
In this short guide to doing business in China, a few cultural facts and their influence on business culture and etiquette are explored. These are in no way meant to represent a comprehensive summary of tips on doing business in China but a highlighting of some important key areas one may encounter.
Roughly translated as 'good reputation', 'respect' or 'honour,' one must learn the subtleties of the concept and understand the possible impact it could have on your doing business in China.
There are four categories of face. 1) where one's face is lessened through their involvement in an action or deed and it being exposed. The loss of face is not the result of the action, but rather it's being made public knowledge.
It is critical that you give face, save face and show face when doing business in China.
Doing Business in China - Meeting & Greeting
Doing business always involves meeting and greeting people. In China, meetings start with the shaking of hands and a slight nod of the head. Be sure not to be overly vigorous when shaking hands as the Chinese will interpret this as aggressive.
The Chinese are not keen on physical contact - especially when doing business. The only circumstance in which it may take place is when a host is guiding a guest. Even then contact will only be made by holding a cuff or sleeve. Be sure not to slap, pat or put your arm around someone's shoulders.
Doing Business in China - Building Relationships
Relationships in China are very formal. Remember, when doing business you are representing your company so always keep dealings at a professional level. Never become too informal and avoid humour. This is not because the Chinese are humourless but rather jokes may be lost in translation and hence be redundant.
Doing Business in China - Giving Gift Etiquette
Unlike many countries, the giving of gifts does not carry any negative connotations when doing business in China. Gifts should always be exchanged for celebrations, as thanks for assistance and even as a sweetener for future favours. However, it is important not to give gifts in the absence of a good reason or a witness. This may be construed differently.
Business gifts are always reciprocated. They are seen as debts that must be repaid. When giving gifts do not give cash. They need to be items of worth or beauty. Do not be too frugal with your choice of gift otherwise you will be seen as an 'iron rooster', i.e. getting a good gift out of you is like getting a feather out of an iron rooster.
Doing Business in China - Meetings and Negotiations
Meetings must be made in advance. Preferably some literature regarding your company should be forwarded to introduce the company. Try and book meetings between April - June and September - October. Avoid all national holidays especially Chinese New Year.
The Chinese are renowned for being tough negotiators. Their primary aim in negotiations is 'concessions'. Always bear this in mind when formulating your own strategy. You must be willing to show compromise and ensure their negotiators feel they have gained major concessions.
Make sure you have done your homework before doing business in China. The Chinese plan meticulously and will know your business and possibly you inside out.

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