Doing Business in China!

Knowing a bit about China is helpful when doing business or traveling in China. The
more you know about China, the easier it is to do business there. Here are some useful
Chinese characters, customs, philosophy, and practice that you might find helpful.

Interesting Facts


  • There are over 100 cities in China that have a population greater than 1 million. In contrast, the U.S. has only 9.
  • China has 3,240 TV stations, of which 209 are operated by China central TV, 39 are provincial and 3,000 are local city stations. All TV stations are owned and run by governments. By contrast, the U.S. has over 21,000 mostly commercial stations.
  • China has the most cell phone users in the world, claiming over 460 million cell phones in 2007. The U.S. is about half of that, with 245 million phones in 2007. It’s no wonder that most cell phones we use are made in China

Cultural Differences

Yang Liu, a Chinese native who lives and works in Germany, interprets the differences between East and West from her designer’s eye. Her exhibitions have received rave reviews. She observes that Chinese rode bicycles in the 70s while prefer driving cars now; Germans, on the other hand, drove cars in the 70s and prefer riding bicycles now. Chinese talk loudly in restaurants while Germans prefer a quiet dining environment. Chinese managers think they are way above their colleagues while German counterparts think everyone is pretty much equal. Chinese also step around the problems while Germans confront them. Download the file and see for yourself how much you think you notice such differences.

“White Collar” Living


How much do you have to make to be a “white collar” in China? According to the official Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, it depends on where you live. In Shanghai, Shenzhen, Hangzhou, and Beijing, you need to make at least 5,000 RMB (or about $700 USD) per month to be a white collar. In major provincial capitals like Guangzhou, Suzhou, and Xiamen, about $600 USD. If you are not making this much, don’t worry, you can still be a white collar and live a comfortable life in…Lhasa, the capital of Tibet! A little more than $120 would do just fine!

Chinese Philosophy


  • (re-guo-shang-de-ma-yi, tuan-tuan-zhuan) “An ant on a hot pot-circling around in panic”
  • This saying is used to describe a situation where a person is anxious but undecided about something and he is like a dog circling around, chasing his tail.


  • (rou-ba-zi-da-gou, you-qu-wu-hui)” Throw a meat bun to a dog-by no means can be retrievable”
  • This saying is used for a no-win situation where one’s investment is doom to lose. Or as Americans would say: throw money into water. The meat bun here represents your investment and the dog here could be your business partner.


  • (dao-gao-yi-chi, mo-gao-yi-zhang) “The law is strong, but the outlaws are ten times stronger”.
  • This saying describes well one of the challenges foreign companies face when doing business in China. While foreign companies have to abide by local laws, Chinese businesses may take advantage of the grey area of the laws.


  • (er-ting-wei-xu, yan-jian-wei-shi) “What you hear may be false but what you see is true” or “seeing is believing.”
  • Many Chinese business people may brag about their relationship with
    government officials or exaggerate their ability to do something. It’s better to do a reality check. See for yourself first before you agree to anything.
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