With over 1.35 billion citizens, China (official name: the People’s Republic of China) is the most populous country in the world, and the second largest by land area.
Foreign executives doing business in China – especially those from the West -- would be well-advised to familiarize themselves with a variety of cultural factors and realities which could heavily influence the success or failure of any venture. Some of these include:
Relationship-building: whereas most Westerners are entirely comfortable embarking upon a significant business relationship without having a substantial personal relationship with their counterpart, in China, the development of a business relationship goes hand-in-hand with the development of a personal relationship. This is the concept of “guanxi”, generally referring to a relationship or a network of relationships. The process of relationship building can take many months and foreign firms will need to adjust their time horizons accordingly.
Drinking alcohol is an important part of the “getting to know each other” process. If you have health or religious reasons for preferring not to drink, simply advise your Chinese colleagues in advance and there usually will not be any problems.
Patience, politeness, respect for authority, and modesty are generally more highly valued in China than in many western cultures.