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A Guide to Doing Business in China 3 - Understanding the Cultural Differences

The main characteristic about business in China is that it's relationship driven, this means that in China you have to develop a relationship before you do business, whereas in western cultures you often do a transaction and then develop a relationship. There are certain characteristics about relationships in China otherwise known as guanxi, first of all they tend to be reciprocal in nature, so if someone grants you a favour, you should grant one back, also when you maintain relationships in China, you have to pay attention to other aspects such as whether the Chinese side looses faith and that's going to damage a relationship. You also need to pay attention to hierarchy as this is another aspect which is important in Chinese culture, treating people according to their rank is important.

In a first meeting the exchange of business cards is a really important part of doing business, in this case you should be prepared and have your business card translated into Chinese, paying particular attention to getting your rank and title translated accurately as these are very important in Chinese business cultures. When you give and receive a business card, you should do so with two hands as this shows great respect to the person that you're meeting. Other important aspects on how you can leave a good impression with the Chinese side are knowing a bit of Chinese for example and also showing some formality during a meeting in terms of presenting your company and listening to the Chinese side, and finishing your encounter, if you want to continue your business relationship, by presenting the Chinese side with a small gift.

When it comes to doing business in China, you will need language skills, which is why it's recommended you employ an interpreter and even a Chinese employee to talk to the Chinese and communicate with the Chinese in a language they understand so that there are no misunderstandings. Remember, things like technical jargon and humor will not translate very well. It would also be a good idea to have a couple of pages from your website translated into Chinese along with your business cards.

Whether you're going to China for leisure reasons or for business reasons, you still need a visa. The particular characteristics of a business visa is that you need either a letter of invitation from a Chinese company or a visa notification form from an issuing authority in China and it's that which you use along with your application form to go to the China visa application service center in London or the Chinese consulates in Edinburgh or Manchester. There are different types of business visa that you can apply for, including single entry, double entry, or multiple entry so you have to think about how often you're going to be going to China throughout the year. If you have a letter of invitation, it may need to state which type of visa you're going to have to apply for.

About the Author:

The China Britain Business Council is the UK's leading organisation helping British companies do business in China. In these exclusive sets from GuruOnline, their senior staff offer free business advice to anyone thinking of doing business in China. Their sets cover everything from where to find the help you'll need through to the technical aspects of running your China office. www.guruonline.tv/cbbc-operational-business-advice-cu lture

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