16.11.2018 in Analysis
Business and Culture Norms in China

International business cultures involve the customs, values, manners and etiquette displayed during business transactions in the international market. Multinational companies doing business with companies from other parts of the world ought to be keen and observant on the business and culture norms of such countries. The UK based company supplying manufacturing equipment to China need to have a better knowledge and grasp of the business and culture norms in China in order to successfully deal with the complaints of the client and facilitate repeated business with the clients in China. A comparison between the business and culture norms in China and those of UK will be very helpful to the team of British officials sent by the UK based company to resolve the complaints of their customer in China.

In the past years, doing business in China was very difficult and challenging because of the diverse business cultures that exist among the Chinese people. However, following the improved international business relations, Chinese government reforms and the growing China economy that need more foreign investment, doing business in China has become simple to some extent. The British officials and team of engineers representing the UK based company will be forced to make frequent contact with the Chinese business people in the course of their business trip.

The UK based company should critically consider the manner in which its officials interact with the complainant clients in China. The main objective of the British team is to resolve the matter successfully, avoidance of cancellation of the contract, minimizing the costs accrued from this complaint as well as securing possibility of repeat business. In order to achieve these goals, the British officials should learn about various aspects of China business such as business culture, business etiquette, negotiation techniques and meeting protocol. This will ensure that they attain their business target in the best manner possible through giving the Chinese customers good responses in the best manner possible.


China is characterized with some cultural facts that influence the business culture and etiquette required by the Chinese people. It is valuable to develop intensive insights into China’s business culture and social etiquette in order to avoid business misunderstandings that may affect the deals and cause severe harm onto the working relationships. The British officials and team of engineers heading to China to try solving the complaint of their client in China will need to hold meeting with the client. Therefore, this team should have a clear grasp of the culture of attending and conducting meetings in the China in order to discuss about the failure of their manufacturing equipment to withstand 8-16 hours of consistent production as stated in the contract.

Basically, the culture of meetings in China is quite different from the United Kingdom because China meeting culture resembles that of Canada in North America. The Chinese value their time very much so the British official meeting Chinese clients should observe high levels of punctuality. They also observe their holidays keenly especially the Chines New Year when all the operations shut down. Checking of the Chinese calendar will be very crucial in order to avoid scheduling a business meeting during holidays when all operations are at standstill. The British official needs to be fully prepared to meet their Chinese customers with the best explanations and demonstrations to defend the efficiency of their product under complain. The Chinese people are very strict in analyzing the value of the company and product of their suppliers and the British officials and the team of engineers should capture the attention of the Chinese clients in the first meeting otherwise it will be very hard to convince them about the possible adjusting of the defects in the manufacturing equipment.

The British officials should realize that some of the meeting cultures applicable in United Kingdom are very crucial in China hence the need to fully practice them. During formal meetings both countries encourage handshakes as the most common way of greetings. Just like in United Kingdom, seniority is very much valued in China thus the older person is greeted first then the younger person in the meeting are introduced to the older person. The same order applies on the basis of social status or professional ranks in the company. Highly profiled personnel are recognized and respected during business meetings in both cultures. In both cultures, the officials in a meeting should be addressed by a strong title followed by their surname. However, in United Kingdom only medical doctors and the clergy use their professional title in business. Therefore, the British officials and team of engineers meeting the Chinese clients should be ready to recognize the titles of the Chinese officials to show their sense of understanding the Chinese culture of seniority in business meetings.

However, in United Kingdom business meetings involving people of different professional ranks in their respective companies tend to be very professional and formal. Decisions are made according to facts, but not emotions unlike in China whereby even formal meetings are characterized with a lot of humor. The Chinese people have a sense of humor thus the British officials should be ready to laugh during the business meeting unlike their formal culture in UK that demands seriousness and high level of professionalism. The Chinese culture of gift giving etiquette may seem new to the British official who are used to the British culture of terming gifts as not part of the business culture. In Chinese business culture, gifts are very much valued and their nature dictates the perception of the Chinese about the contract. The British officials should observe the Chinese gift giving etiquette in order to adequately convince the clients about the resolving of complains raised.

One way of winning the trust of Chinese people in business is through maintaining good reputation of your company and displaying high levels of respect and honor while transacting business in China. The British officials meeting the China clients who are complaining about the efficiency of the product should be well versed with the four categories of faces that are very much recognized in the Chinese business culture. The first face is Diu-mian-zi that occurs when the actions of the officials are exposed to the people through their aggressive involvement. The Gei-mian-zi involves giving face to others through showing respect to them by giving compliments when needed. The face of Liu-mian-zi is displayed through showing wisdom in the actions out of much worthy of experience and age by avoiding unnecessary mistakes when describing or demonstrating any concept to the Chinese. The final face is Jiang-mian-zi that is boosted by increased complement by third party in the process of explanation. This shows that the official making the presentation is excellent and the clients would be convinced by the performance.

In United Kingdom, the reputation of the company making a presentation is equally necessary, but there are no set faces to symbolize the nature of the company and its officials. Therefore, the British officials and team of engineers representing the UK based company in China will be required to fully analyze these faces before making the business visit. This is because the Chinese clients would make judgment of the presentation by the officials based on these four faces. In order for the officials achieve their target of resolving the problem of their manufacturing machines and avoiding cancellation of the contract, the officials need to display high levels of respect, honor and wisdom when giving their presentation. Through application of these faces, the officials will be able to convince the Chinese clients about the production consistency of their equipment and ensure repeated business with the company.

China business culture recognizes more of non-verbal communication when discussing business issues. The Chinese people like using indirect language patters when doling business. The British officials representing a UK based company in China should be prepared to use more of facial expression, tonal variation and body posture when discussing with the Chinese clients. They should also avoid showing displeasure of anger when communicating with the Chinese because the Chinese interprets this as a sign of disagreement. They should adapt to the culture of the Chinese of showing impassive expression when speaking in order to win their clients and be in a position to convince them of possible adjustments to improve the efficiency of their machines for the purpose of enabling them to withstand more than 8 hours of continuous production as stated in the contract.

The British communication is quite interesting because it is comprised of a mix of communication styles. The main styles of communication used in United Kingdom are the understatement and direct communication with the upper class people in the business relying very much on the formal protocol that has been well established. However, many British businesspeople prefer the understatement style thus avoiding burbling words. They have the tendency of using qualifiers such as possibly, perhaps or maybe. The British officials and team of engineers should be cautious from using such terms in China because they may create a negative implication in the minds of the Chinese customers thus affecting the client’s loyalty towards the manufacturing equipment supplied by the UK based company. They should also avoid written communication that follows strict rules of protocol which is dominant in UK and shift to the non-verbal communication that has more dominance in China.

Due to great disparity between the western and eastern business cultures, British official representing their company in China may face some difficulties in accomplishing their mission. Differences in language, legal systems governing business contracts and the local business networks are very challenging to completely cope with them. Therefore, the best method to counter these challenges is to establish an intermediary in China before making the business trip to engage the Chinese clients. The intermediary should be possibly a Chinese or any other person with full knowledge of the social and economic and political cultures of China. The intermediary may act as the British official’s interpreter and offer assistance in the analysis of the beurecracy, local business networks and the entire legal system of China governing business. The services of the intermediary will not only benefit the British officials but also the Chinese clients who may be easily convinced by the recommendations of the business intermediary whom they are more familiar with.

In conclusion, the success of the British officials and the team of engineers send to China to represent a UK based company will be determined by the level of understanding of China business culture. Full mastery of the Chinese meeting and gift giving etiquette would influence the outcome of the business trip. The British officials also need to understand the strict culture of punctuality, the value given to seniority in Chinese business culture, the different faces shaping the reputation of the company and the dominance of non-verbal communication in the Chinese business culture. Through strict compliance with these business cultures in China, the company officials will be able to successfully convince the Chinese clients on the complaints raised.

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