Chinese Business Etiquette

Having acquired knowledge about the reasons of how the historical and social aspects of – Italian fashion productions were moved in China–  we are now going to look into what were the main struggles that Italian companies faced during this process.

Nevertheless, China is a vast country and not all the cities are easily reachable due to the backwardness of communication. The most important aspect is the one, which relates to the way of dealing business. Almost all Italians who have been working in China clashed with these intercultural misunderstandings. The assumptions, which are at the center of Chinese business culture, are in fact fundamentally different from those that determine the behavior of Italian entrepreneurs.

In China there is a constant tendency to not consider binding the agreements. Which often lead to problems during negotiations where Chinese appear passive, and therefore, were usually misunderstood by western people.


Another aspect that Italian entrepreneurs had to deal with is related to the value Chinese people give to “originality”.

Being original is not a totally positive value in Asian culture, not fully appreciated. This is because it could lead into new ways, different from the ones their fathers have always been following, putting in discussion their actual order and hierarchy, which is why they fear it. Chinese people distrust towards originality and autonomy of thought. This aspect has roots in their Confucian philosophy, which still has a strong role in their local traditions.

The problem of the almost total lack of protection of “know how” was and still is another big concern of any company that starts a new business in China. Patents, Copyright, Trade Marks, are still not fully protected by Chinese law.

What are the keys factors for a successful and prolific business relationship with Chinese people?

Learn about their history, culture and tradition, become an insider. Develop your own network.”Guanxi” is the Chinese word that describes your circuitry of connections, relations, and contacts, in different fields that could possibly open new doors. This concept is of course, also present in our western business strategy culture, but in China it has a stronger value.
The  “Guanxi”  you create are more than just contacts. If you establish a good relationship with Chinese people, they will always support and assist you in every occasion, no matter if it’s business or personal affair.


As we can see, big opportunities do not come easily at all! I’ve described the main problems that foreigners usually face when they start a new business adventure in China.  Nevertheless every problem has a solution, which in this case comes with a deeper awareness and knowledge of a different cultural system. To help out with this I suggest you a book:  “Chinese Business Etiquette: A Guide to Protocol, Manners, and Culture in the People’s Republic of China” . If you are planning to start a new business there you will not be unprepared!


Check out my previous article about: HOW DID ITALIAN FASHION FARE IN CHINA?

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