China’s GDP growth for last quarter announced as 7%. Consider its surrounded countries’ growth rate to be under 1%, makes it still the fascinating destination for business person. When I first went to China for business trip, I remember myself trapped in the norms and traditions of 5,000 years great history. I have been working for Japanese companies and been working with Chinese customers for about 4 years now. To avoid any offend from local people, or worse, losing your deal, here are some tips for the business travelers, especially aiming for Western people who share less common aspects. 1. Plan ahead your transportation When you arrived to one of the airports in China for the very first time, if there is nobody to pick you up, avoid the taxis. There are few taxi drivers speaking English, and their driving attitudes are way over your imagination (of course, not all of them, but you don’t want to gamble). Moreover, the receipt they give you will be written in Chinese, sometimes without price or date, or no receipt at all, which will get you into trouble with accounting department. Pre-reserve your transportation with English-speaking driver use the company like ***, which also provide online invoice so you can retrieve anytime. Or, check the timetable and use the public transportations such as limousine buses, high speed trains, and subways. But don’t for get to collect your receipts from the staff. 2. Dress accordingly The summer in Beijing can sometimes hits 40 degrees, with all the concrete jungle and massive population. Even in the business scene, some people are dressed as if on vacation to Hainan Island. Back a few years ago when I visited this venture company located just outside Shanghai, there was a middle-aged man wearing a running shirt with short pants and sandals, just leaning against the company’s gate. I thought he was a farmer living nearby, only after entering the meeting room, I realized he was the CEO of the company we were trying to get deal with. Chinese people can dress casual even in the business meeting, so you may lose your suit and tie accordingly. 3. Bring your local souvenir Nowadays, although lots of Chinese people travel abroad with tour agencies, it is still difficult to do the free travel due to the visa limitation. Souvenir from your own culture will always be appreciated, and may be placed in the conference room in order to appeal to guests how globalized company they are. Just for some ideas, local spirits are easy to choose and can be purchased in the airport on your way to China, reducing the time for shopping. Or, simply buy a small interior with your tradition, such as Matryoshka from Russia, Dalahäst from Sweden, and Nussknacker from Germany. 4. Call clients (partners) by their title In my opinion, Chinese people are proud people, and have the highest pride than any other countries’ customers I met. If you have attended any meeting with Chinese people, or been to any social events with them, you would notice that people are called by their last name + their business title. For example, if Mr. Wang is a company president, he will be called Wang-Dong (Dong: shorten word for 董事长, Chinese for president). Middle-aged Chinese people (around 45 and up) have experienced Cultural Revolution and economic reform under the chaotic time, and it needed extreme hard work to build the current status. Their title is their pride, so people calling that respect what they have achieved under difficult circumstances. Here is the cheat-sheet for foreigners about Chinese business titles. 5. Overcome your temptation to local gourmet (and drink) We were on the 3-week business trip to meet customers around east and south Asia, starting from China. My 54-year-old manager, who was filled with curiosity, could not help tasting the lamb skewers sold in the street stand. The result was, he got food-poisoned and could not climb up from the hotel bed for the rest of the trip. Some Chinese food are just not suitable for foreign stomach, so no matter how good they look or smell, don’t risk yourself (and your whole digestive system) to try them. Stick with the proper restaurants and cooked (not raw) food. Same with the drinks. It is safe to avoid anything with ice in it. 6. Know how to drink in Chinese way Once I was told by a Chinese executive, the secret to the successful business in China lies only on how you drink and smoke. Aside from smoking, Chinese people do have a unique business drinking tradition. Some even said the most important thing can be only discussed upon drinking table. Starting from Tsingtao beer, topped with Shaoxing wine or Baijiu (Baijiu - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia), and finally comes to the Great Wall wine, produced from very own Chinese winery. It always starts with the call “乾杯” (Ganbei), literally means bottom up in English, but don’t drink too fast, because you have a long way to go still. Your Chinese customer or partner will come up to you and fill up your glass constantly with same old Ganbei calls, weather you finished or not. However, don’t go too far drinking like Chinese people, otherwise you may ended up in hospital like my previous manager who surprisingly had a whole bottle of Baijiu. If you’re not into drinking, you don’t have to force yourself, but at least pretend to have fun. Drinking is the important business and social event in China, and you don’t want to make clients upset, ended up losing your deals. Know your pace before going to China, practicing in your local Chinese restaurant will give you the chance to be familiar with strong spirits. Hope this can be your help for upcoming China business trip! Von voyage. Admin Edit: Please do not solicit services and companies! Please use your correct location!