Building Business Relationships with your Chinese Counterparts

Foreigners discovering China for the first time are often swept away by the incredible strength of the country’s character: its geography, natural beauty, as well as its tremendously dense cities and vibrant people.  As with travel to any new country, visiting China on business is something that may require added and early research and planning.


As a general rule, the Chinese are very formal when it comes to respecting etiquette – especially in business settings. If you’re heading to China for business, consider these cultural tips to ensure success!




  • Usually, business relationships formed after your Chinese counterpart gets to know you, so working through an intermediary is crucial. The relationship could be an individual or an organization that can make a formal introduction and vouch for the reliability of your company.


  • Send materials in Chinese that describe your company, its history, and literature about your products and services before you leave to China. The Chinese often use intermediaries to ask questions that they would prefer not to inquire about directly.


  • Be very patient. In general, Chinese companies are known to take a considerable amount of time to make a decision.


  • You are always the representatives of your company; even the trip is a personal one. That meant, always make sure you are on your best behavior.


  • “Rank” is extremely important in business relationships. Always keep this in mind when you address someone in a business meeting. It is important to note that there is no gender bias in business.



  • The Chinese often prefer face-to-face meetings rather than written or telephonic communication. Remember the communication is official, especially in dealing with someone of higher rank. Treating a high-ranking official too informally, especially in front of their peers, could ruin a potential deal.


  • Meals and social events are not the places for business discussions. There is a difference between business and socializing in China, so try to be careful not to intertwine the two.


Have you had successful business meetings in China?  Let us know your tips or thoughts here!


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