Appointments are customary, and punctuality is important. Business cards should have the Chinese translation on the back. Business people usually meet with their business partners in restaurants. You should always appear a little earlier. It is customary to invite the host as well.
If you are in Shanghai on business, you need a lot of patience and perseverance, at least as far as the formal part is concerned. An understanding of Chinese culture, in which respect for hierarchy and traditional morals play a major role, is beneficial for lasting business relationships. Unwavering good manners are important so clients can save face. Public outbursts of anger are to be avoided at all costs. Nevertheless, drawn-out negotiations can be skilfully concluded with a business lunch or an evening visit to a karaoke bar. These are the places to cultivate China’s legendary guanxi (relationships). Public business life is very formal. Business people wear suits and exchange business cards (always with both hands), bow and shake hands. Both men and women should dress in muted colors and avoid gesturing with their hands, pointing fingers, or touching other people. Gifts often break the ice with new contacts, but should never be interpreted as an attempt at bribery. In many companies, especially large and established ones, a party representative who holds an honorary or nominal position in the company presides over the first encounters with new or potential business partners. He leaves the subsequent, real negotiations to the management.
Older people are usually respected, at least around them. Women have become more emancipated as a result of political changes, but men still have priority in business matters. Businesswomen are expected to show restraint. Businessmen, on the other hand, should be prepared to spend many an evening in hostess bars with their clients and partners. Foreigners are generally shown restrained respect, although continental Chinese take great pride in their own language and culture.
The table manners presented by the Chinese in public often seem very relaxed to foreigners – in Shanghai you spit, burp and openly poke your teeth. One should tolerate this, but not imitate it. Drinking after office hours to finalize negotiations and strengthen relationships are common. The Shanghai people are more drinkable than many Chinese abroad.
A monthly magazine useful for business travelers is the Shanghai Business Review (Internet: www.sbrchina.com) with news from the business world, reports, interviews, events, etc.
When you are in China on business, you have to be extremely patient. Many overseas businessmen find the long welcoming ceremonies, drawn-out negotiations in which every little thing is discussed in detail, and the apparent reluctance to close a deal extremely frustrating. You can only address this problem with plenty of time for discussion and negotiation. In addition, all important conditions should be included in a contract.
According to thesciencetutor, Chinese business people are very formal, and it is advisable to wear a smart, low-key suit. Another important detail at a meeting is exchanging business cards. They should always be given and received with both hands and printed on one side in English and on the other in Chinese. Anyone who invites to a business lunch in a restaurant should take the bill. When visiting a business partner at home, a small gift such as chocolates or flowers is appropriate. You shouldn’t give expensive gifts and certainly no money. The latter is seen as an insult.
A monthly magazine useful for business travelers is the Beijing Review (Internet:www.bjreview.com.cn).
Business hours: Mon-Fri 9 am-6pm, with a one or two hour lunch break.
Delegate Office of the German Economy Beijing
Friedrich-Blos-Str. 42, D-76133 Karlsruhe
Tel: (0721) 937 74 82.
(There are further AHK offices in Beijing (Peking), Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Shanghai)
Chamber of Commerce – China Höschgasse 83, CH-8008 Zurich
Tel: (044) 421 38 88.
Internet: www.swisscham.org/swisscham or www.sccc.ch
(further offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Geneva and Lugano)
Chinese Chamber of Commerce
House of German Business
Breite Strasse 29
China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT)
1 Fu Xing Men Wai Jie, CN-100860 Beijing
Tel: (10) 68 02 02 29 or 68 03 48 23.
GSM 900 with reception / transmission range in cities and in the vicinity of cities. Network providers include China Unicom (Internet: www.netchina.com.cn).
In large cities you have free access to the Internet via Wi-Fi in cafes, restaurants, shopping centers and other public places. Network provider: Eastnet China Ltd. (Internet: www.eastnet.com.cn). Internet cafes are widespread in larger cities. Mobile surfing on the Internet is made possible, among other things, by the Goodspeed Wi-Fi hotspots (Internet: goodspeed.io/de/index.html). It must be remembered that some websites have been censored and are therefore not accessible.
Post to Europe takes about a week. All mail should be labeled The People’s Republic of China (“People’s Republic of China”). Large post offices are open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., smaller ones shorter. Postage stamps are available in hotels, and postcards and letters can also be posted there.
Since the use of shortwave frequencies changes several times over the course of a year, it is advisable to contact Deutsche Welle customer service directly (Tel: (+49) (0228) 429 32 08. Internet: www.dw-world.de) to request.
The country code is 0086. Area codes: Beijing 10, Hong Kong 852, Macau 853, Shanghai 21. Public phones are becoming harder to find because most calls are made on cell phones. The easiest way to find public telephones is in kiosks and post offices. In major hotels and most small convenience stores, prepaid cards are available in denominations of 20, 50, 100 and 200 yen. This is the cheapest way to make calls. Another way to make phone calls is Skype.