Last week, when I was up at Jazz fest in Montreal, I had the chance to thumb through Canada's version of USA Today, The Globe and Mail. While arguably better written than McPaper, The Globe and Mail is every bit -- if not more -- populist, offering a myopic perspective on important international trade issues by choosing to include quotations and citations which are not only debatable, but just plain wrong. Consider how in this article that discusses China quality concerns in the food products and health supplements area, an expert interviewed stereotypes the Chinese as having a "a 'total disregard' for safety standards." In addition, according to our same Canadian expert, the Chinese view us "as someone you make money off, not someone with whom you have a long-term relationship."
Perhaps in this gentleman's personal worldly experience, he's encountered a few bad apples -- or would that be a few rotting maple leafs -- among the hundreds of thousands of Chinese suppliers. But to broadly dismiss the Chinese as not looking for long-term relationships is absolutely wrong. In fact, I've personally observed that Chinese suppliers often care more about partnering and developing the right relationships than Western suppliers. In fact, relationship building can trump good business logic in China, and in some cases I've heard about companies making the wrong sourcing decisions because of the need to preserve existing long-term relationships and to save face in touchy situations.