The Art of China Sourcing: Tips for the Neophyte

I thought that Purchasing's survey of the do's and don'ts of doing business in China had some helpful tips for those who have not spent time on the ground in the region in a business setting. What are some of the highlights? According to Purchasing, "One of the biggest points … is that when dealing with Chinese companies, "yes" does not always mean "yes." Buyers and supply chain professionals doing business in China warn that Chinese companies and suppliers may act in meetings as if they understand and agree with what is being discussed, but in truth they may not..." In addition, and one tip I can attest to first-hand, "Chinese culture takes after-work socializing very seriously, so don't turn down dinner invitations or drinks." As an aside, unless you actually enjoy drinking the rocket-fuel hooch -- which has the smell and consistency of a mixture of rubbing alcohol and tree bark -- that you'll often be served during Chinese business dinners for toasts around the table, I’d recommend asking for a Chinese beer or a local wine (which is not wine at all, but a complex, savory, sweet, and salty liquor made from local fruits). But regardless of drink, get used to the Chinese toast: "Gan Bei".

Jason Busch

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