China is the world’s second largest economy after the United States and the biggest trading partner for most Asian economies. It’s a large and expanding market for UK businesses. Follow our tips to help you understand the culture of doing business in China.
1. Build good relationships: Guanxi, or personal relationships are extremely important when doing business in China. The Chinese are very interested in long-term commitment. Build long-term goals and objectives into your proposals.
2. Exchange appropriate gifts: Gift giving is an everyday part of Chinese business culture. Giving and receiving gifts helps to build and maintain relationships. Take gifts with you when visiting and put some thought into the gifts you give. Always wrap gifts before giving them. Gifts are rarely opened in front of the giver.
3. Be aware that internet access is restricted: When in China you will experience restricted access on certain foreign websites and apps. These include: Google, Gmail, Wikipedia, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. There are some paid subscriptions to Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) which can allow access.
4. Swap business cards: Business cards should be formally exchanged at the beginning of meetings. You should treat the business card with great respect and note that they are generally exchanged using two hands. Always take a moment to read the card before putting it away.
5. Learn about the culture and language: Knowledge of the culture and language is very important. Even basic understandings will go a long way and your hosts will appreciate your initiative.