888 = prosperity

Not only numbers often have a different meaning. To do business in China is well advised to get to know the business practices.

Modern communication media and means of transport are bringing the world closer together. But despite globalisation, there are still invisible boundaries that can only be overcome with knowledge. This applies to cultural barriers in particular. Chinese culture differs from European culture not only in language, religion and societal organisation but also in its system of values and standards and a completely different notion of hierarchy. Communication is also practised in a completely different way. Just because a European has agreed on a common business language with a Chinese business associate, for example, English, this does not mean that the same sentence is understood in the same way by the European and the Chinaman. For instance, the sentence "It's no big problem" is understood in Europe to mean that existing problems can be solved. In China, the same words mean that a big problem exists. There are stark differences in business mores, too. A European businessman likes to demonstrate strength in negotiations whereas a Chinese negotiating partner strives for harmony at the negotiating table. Anyone coming to China unprepared will have a tough time. Businesspeople are well advised to find out about the cultural peculiarities of the country and to involve local partners who are familiar with the cultural, economic, linguistic and other differences between Europe and China. Europeans will also find the way negotiations are held with Chinese partners unfamiliar. Europeans are advised to make extremely detailed specifications, for example, on how a brochure should be printed because otherwise the Chinese printer will print it in black-and-white because he assumes that his customers want to save money. It is also necessary to check information provided by Chinese partners personally, for example, about a location. Otherwise you might find that the event location is not large enough for the expected number of guests or is not available at the planned time. Ample scheduling is recommended because there is a lot of red tape involved in obtaining the necessary licences in China.In communication with the guests, a European must always be aware of Chinese customs to avoid offending anyone. When greeting a group of people, it is important to greet the highest-ranking person first and then work downwards. And at some events it may be necessary for local potentates of the Communist Party to sit on the stage and hold a short speech. It is unthinkable to forbid this. Despite the differences, there are, of course, common aspects and also topics that excite all people irrespective of their nationality: we have seen this time and again at the Olympics or the World Cup. But beware in this case, too: adverts showing perspiring sportspeople are considered sordid in China! Antje Peters-Reimann

m+a report Nr.8 / 2006 vom 08.12.2006
m+a report vom 8. Dezember 2006