Thalej Vasishta, Managing Director of the Paragon Group has launched Paragon Law and assisted other businesses with market entry into China, provides 5 quick tips on dealing with Chinese counterparts;


1. Cultivate “guan xi”.
To make things happen in China, you have to know people. “Knowing” is what the Chinese mean by “guan xi” or “connections.” When you cultivate “guan xi” with Chinese people, they will often do anything to please you including important introductions to people they know. However, if you start trying to do business before people get to know you and feel comfortable with you, it is unlikely you will be successful. 


2. Make friends first, do business later.
The Chinese enjoy small talk and pleasantries. The importance of hosting and budgeting for dinners and lunches where a relationship can be developed should not be underestimated. They want to learn more about you and start to build a long term relationship before conducting business. This is why it takes longer to get things done there. Therefore, initial meetings rarely produce direct results. 


3. Introduce your team to the Chinese personally.
The Chinese people are conditioned by centuries of history to obey their political leaders the way they obey their parents. If you’re the only person who travels to China but you need your wider team to help out with operations, introduce them formally to your Chinese contact, especially in person. It is this that forms the basis of trust. 


4. “Yes” does not literally mean affirmative.
Chinese people have a habit of saying “yes” to show that they’re paying attention or that they’re following what you say. In this context, the word “yes” doesn’t mean that they agree with what you say or with your terms. 


5. Recruit a good interpreter
Decision makers will tend to be of the older generation and rarely speak English. It is key for any meeting you use an interpreter who is both good and you feel comfortable with. Therefore spend time selecting and getting to know an interpreter.