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Top Ten Cultural Rules for Doing Business in China

  1. Form a connection with someone who has first hand experience conducting business and developing strategic relationships in China.

  2. When in China, cultivate contacts with many people in order to find the right decision makers.

  3. Knowledge of the culture and language is key. Even basic understandings will go a long way and your hosts will appreciate your initiative.

  4. The Chinese are very keen about exchanging business cards. Bring plenty with you to business meetings, preferably ones written in English on one side and in Chinese on the other. Learn how to present them to your Chinese counterparts.

  5. Avoid the word "no" in your business dealings. "Perhaps," "we'll see" and other ambiguous words are more appropriate.

  6. Humility is a virtue in the Chinese business culture. In most instances, exaggerated claims will be discounted.

  7. Expect long and arduous negotiations, even at the very end.

  8. Be prepared and be patient. Accept the delays that may occur. The Chinese prefer to establish strong relationships before closing deals because of the lack of a strong legal system to enforce contracts.

  9. Before establishing a formal business relationship, understand the difference between a Joint Venture (JV), a Wholly Foreign Owned Enterprise (WFOE) and a Representative Office (RO).

  10. Keep an open mind for new and creative opportunities.
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