Navigating Chinese Business Culture

Dec 24, 2012

Business Women in International Trade is a published annually by Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada. The focus of this 2012 issue is the emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China – the BRIC economics. Under the topic of Navigating Chinese Business Culture, Sherry Huang provides her advice to Canadian business women on how to work with China.

“The biggest challenge for most businesses entering the Chinese market is their lack of knowledge about the local business culture. Canadians often return from trade shows in China thinking they’ve generated a great deal of interest. However, saving face is important to the Chinese, so they will usually say they’re interested even if they are not. Other times, they are genuinely interested, but the party in Canada does not respond quickly enough. If they send you a question and you don’t respond for three days, they will look for another supplier. ”

How do you navigate these challenges? “Get to know the culture well”, says Huang. “Interpreters can only interpret language for you – not cultural cues. Find yourself a good Chinese partner, engage a local marketing company to develop your business plan and work with the TCS in China.”

Words of Wisdom

“The TCS offers phenomenal support. My suggestion? Use their industry connections. Work with them to identify opportunities and contacts that will help give you strong starting point.”

-Sherry Huang, CEO Study Abroad Canada Charlottetown, PEI