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A short guide for expatriates

A short guide for expatriates
living and working in Shanghai, 2003

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Shanghai Briefing Shanghai Briefing Document Transcript

  • A Short Guide for Expatriates Living and Working in Shanghai
  • Chi nese Puzzl es – Int roduct i on There is no straightforward formula for foreign business(wo)men and their families to succeed in China. Pretending otherwise risks failing in business and/or private relationships. Thus, each old China hand will advise green-horns differently, according to their personal experience of what works or not. However, such advice doesn’t, but should, come with the health warning that “one man’s meat is another man’s poison”. So:   lesson 1: seek a second opinion, then a third from a Chinese person, and finally a fourth from someone who really knows, understands and is A private audience with respected by both sides Rt Hon Sir Edward Heath   Beijing, September 1998 lesson 2: beware of self-styled “China experts”, or “consultants” - i.e. anecdotally, but sometimes true, expatriates who ve been in or visited China for 30 minutes, or longer than you, respectively! Andrew and Eileen Williamson have spent many years abroad, first as language students and then working with Commercial Union and the British Council respectively. In that spirit, rather than waste time regurgitating the In the late 1990s, they were posted to Beijing, when time-worn advice repeated in the plethora of books on Andrew was appointed CU’s Director and Chief China (see Page 37: Bibliography), we prefer to offer Representative for China, and where Eileen joined the personal insights, based on our and others successes local staff of the British Council. In recognition of his and failures services, Andrew was appointed Visiting Professor of Insurance by the then Shanghai Finance College. Now semi-retired, following the merger of CU and GA, they try Do not underestimate the Chinese … we still have to keep up-to-date their links with China much to learn from them Chi nese Puzzl es - Index Page 01 Brief History 20 Dogs 02 Opium Wars 22 Giving Gifts 04 China for Business 23 Health and Hygiene 05 China for Pleasure 25 Maids 07 Accommodation 28 Meeting and Greeting 08 Avoid 29 Negotiating 09 Banqueting 31 Recreation 11 Business Meetings 32 Support Services 13 Climate and Clothing 33 Transport 15 Communications 35 Work Practices 16 Cost of Living 36 Notes 17 Cultural Differences 37 Bibliography ________________________________________________________________________________________________ Minim Consulting isthe trading partnership of Andrew and Eileen Williamson
  • Chi nese Puzzl es Bri ef H i st o ry 221BC The first Chi’in Emperor begins to build the Great 1908 Death of Dowager Empress Tz’u Hsi, the last Wall of China in order to keep out northern effective Manchu Ruler. Her fierce repression of barbarians. During his reign, 1200 miles are built. change leads to the Boxer Rising against In later centuries, it stretches 1500 miles. It is 25ft foreigners, and to the downfall of the Manchus. In high, with watchtowers every 200 yards 1912, China becomes a republic, and the 2000- year rule of the dynasties is over 1930 Missionary Gladys Aylward spends her life savings going to China, gets a job campaigning against the foot-binding of women, and set us the Inn of the Sixth Happiness orphanage 995AD The Chinese invent printing with movable type. Their tradition of innovation is long: in about 1000AD they also invented gunpowder; and the magnetic compass, a giant leap forward in navigation 1274 Marco Polo reaches Kublai Khan’s court in China. He described paper money, paddle-boats and a black stone which burns: coal. He is away from his Venice home for 25 years. When he returns a millionaire is called the “Man of a Million Lies” 1966 Cultural Revolution – student “Red Guards”, 1725 The Manchu emperor Yongzheng commissions the waving Mao Tse Tung s Little Red Book, hunt out largest encyclopaedia ever, with 10,000 chapters. bourgeois ideologies, humiliate intellectuals, and The Complete Works of the Four Treasuries is still riot. Thousands die in the violence consulted today. Scholars researching it also destroyed all books considered harmful to the empire 1989 Tiananmen Square protests. 100,000 students demonstrate for democratic reforms. Tanks are sent in. One image goes around the world: a lone 1839-60 Opium Wars (see Pages 02-03: Opium Wars) demonstrator defies, on his own, a line of tanks 1873 Taiping Revolution – the most bloody civil war in history. Its leader, Hing Xiuquan, believes himself to be the brother of Jesus Christ. Infuriated at failing the Civil Service entrance exam, he rebels against the Manchu Emperor. Between 20 and 30 million people are killed 2001 China successfully bids to host the 2008 Olympic Games; and joins the World Trade Organisation th Source: Daily Mail Weekend Supplement, 9 June 2001 ________________________________________________________________________________________________ Minim Consulting isthe trading partnership of Andrew and Eileen Williamson “Chinese Puzzles” – Page 01
  • Chi nese Puzzl es Opi um W ars Fi rst Opi um W ar ( 1839- 1842) The A dvance o n Peki ng The wealth of China is used to profit the Mutual ignorance between the two sides was barbarians. By what right do they send the almost total. In the first place, the Chinese thought poisonous drug opium to injure the Chinese they were adequately armed with their matchlock people? So wrote the Chinese official Lin Tse- muskets which fired not by pulling a trigger but Hsu to Queen Victoria, protesting at the opium by applying a lighted match and swords and trade which was making a fortune for her empire, pikes. They were astonished and traumatised by and enslaving the nation of China – through western weapons, as when a single rocket from a addiction – in the process. It is not known if Her British warship burned their admiral s junk and Majesty ever read the letter, but Lin Tse-Hsu was killed all on board. The Chinese leaders also gave ordered by his Emperor to stamp out the opium their men not-very-sound advice about fighting the trade. So he seized opium from British ships, and British. You have to deal with a people who wear disposed of it in trenches of salt and lime along the breeches so tight that once the soldiers fall they sea coast. He was rewarded with an exquisitely cannot get up by themselves. Paint your faces as prepared dinner of roebuck venison, a message fantastically as possible, and make the most signifying “Promotion Assured”, and a hand- hideous grimaces to frighten them and make them painted silk scroll from the Emperor. But it did him tumble down. Yet the misconceptions on the little good. In reprisal for the destroyed opium, the British side were almost as great. The Chinese despised “Foreign Devils” waged the first Opium general was San Ko-lin-sin which led British War (1839-1842), defeated the Chinese, and soldiers to believe their enemy was led by a grabbed a lease on Hong Kong as a reward. “You renegade Irishman named Sam Collinson have caused this war by your excessive zeal”, wrote a furious Emperor to Lin Tse-Hsu. “Now a thousand unending problems are sprouting…” Lin ended his life in exile S co nd Opi um W ar ( 1856- 1860 ) e The S m m er Pal ace u Still the Chinese resisted the opium trade. The The British called it the Summer Palace; the second Opium War began in 1856; it led to the Chinese called it the Yuan Ming Yuan, the Garden burning of the Summer Palace in 1860. First, of Perfect Brightness. It was the seat of Imperial British and French troops advanced to the capital; government, and a pleasure palace. Five in charge of the British contingent was Lord Elgin Emperors of the Manchu dynasty had successively the son of the Elgin who took the marbles from the embellished it over more than 150 years. It was a Parthenon in Greece. On the march, the bodies of massive complex, 3000 structures all together, 18 European envoys who had been sent ahead to museum, storehouse, palace, all in one. The main Peking to negotiate were returned to the advancing Imperial residence was built on nine artificial troops. They had clearly been tortured before their islands to signify the Nine Realms of the Empire; deaths. Then a British soldier, Private Moyes of within lay the Courtyard of Universal Happiness; the Buffs, was captured and refused to kow tow adjoining was The Stone for Repose by the (bow) before the Chinese; for that, he was Stream. One pavilion was called Peace and beheaded. These were the reasons that Elgin was Harmony in Ten Thousand Directions. It was to give for the burning of the Summer Palace. It shaped like a swastika, the Chinese symbol for was not an act of vengeance, but of justice and the 10000. There were bridges, straight, crooked, zig- least objectionable of the courses open to me , he zag, humped; there were tea-houses and summer- said. History, and even his own conscience, it houses. There were also extraordinary elements seems, would not judge it that way of fantasy in its 850 acres. Eunuchs toiled as pretend farmers, pretend shopkeepers and pretend thieves in a miniature pretend village built to complete the view ________________________________________________________________________________________________ “Chinese Puzzles” – Page 0 2
  • The Loo t i ng The Inferno The Emperor fled the advancing barbarians the It was the French who began the looting. It was British. The Summer Palace itself was protected the British who ordered the palace to be burned. It only by a small force of eunuch guards. Yet one was a clear, still autumn day; soon a black pall of English soldier was astonished to find the French smoke rose and hung in the cloudless sky. “There general, Montauban, already there. He was sitting were soldiers with their heads in red lacquer-boxes on the floor of the Emperor s throne-room, from the Empress’ chamber,” wrote a witness; surrounded by a litter of curios, sorting them into “others were wreathed in masses of brocade and different piles as present for Queen Victoria and silks; some stuffed rubies, sapphire and crystal into Napoleon III. Sent to Europe were jade their pockets; and hung their necks with pearl ornaments, statues and carvings; a water clock necklaces. Other hugged clocks and clock-cases. with brass heads of oxen and monkeys; vases Every now and again the cry of ‘Fire’ rang out; the commissioned by the Emperors. English soldiers flames were licking the sumptuous walls padded joined the looting; so did the Chinese peasantry with silks and damasks and furs. It was like a outside “a scrum of all the races of the world scene from an opium dream” hurrying, pushing, cursing, returning laden with their loot …” wrote an onlooker. Clocks, scroll paintings, the poems written by the Emperor on The A ft erm at h silken screens, all went; men hacked the faces off jewelled clocks, believing the quartz numbers to be made of diamond. A small Pekinese dog was The burning destroyed for ever the prestige of the found and pocketed, sent to London and presented Manchu Emperors. Bloody civil war broke out. to Queen Victoria. She called it Lootie, and it Then at the turn of the century came the Society of survived for many years the Righteous and Harmonious Fists known as the Boxers. In a last fling of the old regime, the Manchu Dowager Empress tried to manipulate the Boxers to massacre foreigners in China. When that, too, failed, the Manchus were finished and China descended into an anarchy of squabbling warlords. The Summer Palace, meanwhile, became a ruin picked over by peasants for whatever they could find. A poem described the fate of its treasures, and the ruin of China: A rare book from the Song dynasty Lies in an old woman s basket; On the wall of a herdsboy s hut Hangs a valuable painting. Ask not the fate of scriptures Written on precious leaves; For have not even the pages Of the Encyclopaedia of the Four Treasuries Been scattered to the Four Winds? Source: Daily Mail Weekend Supplement, 9th June 2001 ________________________________________________________________________________________________ Minim Consulting isthe trading partnership of Andrew and Eileen Williamson Chinese Puzzles Page 0 3
  • Chi nese Puzzl es Chi na for Busi ness 1. Banqueting: if you haven t a strong stomach, 7. Interpreters and Drivers: besides being status ask for another posting! Food in the PRC, symbols, interpreters and drivers may enjoy especially when still alive, barely resembles that close, even intimate, relationships with their served in Western Chinese restaurants. When principals and wield influence in their own right. in doubt, don t ask: it may be better not to know Especially if younger and of the opposite sex, what you re eating. And if your host serves you ensure your relationship with them is above directly, even from his plate … grin and swallow! reproach: some male drivers consider foreign - to refuse is an insult females fair game 2. Face: well documented in the standard 8. Laobanism: the boss ( laoban ) is always right. textbooks, face is so important to the Chinese That s why he s the boss: otherwise he wouldn t that your local staff may care more about their be, even if only by virtue of being older. Thus: own face than that of foreigners, and try to save your local staff may stand by and watch you face at your expense. And remember: no is a make all the mistakes in the book and lose face, no-no whilst ensuring they do not lose their own 3. Favours: don t ask your host for favours he can t 9. Meetings: don t remind your Chinese host what deliver (see above: Face) which explains why you ve already done for him, or tell him what meetings can only ever be arranged at the you re going to do for him or want him to do for eleventh hour, when he knows that his diary is you. Besides revealing your hand, this free (besides being his way of showing who s demonstrates a total disregard for his need and boss). Conversely: don t make rash promises face (see above: Face). Even worse: don t tell you can t keep or have no intention of keeping: a him what he needs and that you ve got the light-hearted invitation to look you up next time solution. Rather: find out what he needs and he s in London could cost you an airfare & hotel what you could do to help him; and then sell bill for an unexpected mini-delegation your product or service as the solution. Make your solution his idea 4. Gifts: when in doubt, consult your Chinese advisors, for whom exchanging the right gifts 10. Privacy: some Chinese especially from large may be the most important task in planning a or poorly educated families have little concept delegation or meeting of personal space, which is alien to their home experience. Thus: beware of maids who try to clean the bathroom while you re using it or join 5. Guanxi: a cross between the old boy network your coffee mornings; and girl-friends who offer and Newton s Cradle, and despite being well to accompany Western ladies to the toilet! documented elsewhere, guanxi defies definition. To build it is difficult; to destroy it is easy. For example: if you continue to meet a 11. Sex: rather than being jealous, pity the gullibility friend of a friend, keep the latter informed and of the many elderly Western men in international appear grateful, otherwise he could turn the hotel lobbies sporting trophy Chinese girls on former against you their arms: all these want is a passport to the West. By the same token: beware of the maids who approach the husband while the wife is 6. Interpreters: even if you speak Chinese, take away. If married, take your spouse with you to your own interpreter to meetings, rather than rely China: otherwise, we ve seen too many on your host s: otherwise, he may consider marriages fail you re not senior enough to warrant one and, therefore, not his equal. Don t assume your host needs an interpreter and make sotto voce 12. When all else fails: be patient! To quote Milton comments to your colleagues: many senior out of context: He also serves, who only sits Chinese have studied abroad. Avoid and waits interpreters who not only misinterpret but also have their own say: by including another Chinese speaker in your delegation who can Source: Minim Consulting, based on personal experience intervene ________________________________________________________________________________________________ Chinese Puzzles Page 0 4 Minim Consulting isthe trading partnership of Andrew and Eileen Williamson
  • Chi nese Puzzl es Chi na f or Pl easure Po pul at i o n Rel i gi o n China is the world s most populated country with Confucius (born in 551 BC) is the greatest 1.266 billion people living on 9.6 million square influence on Chinese ethics, emphasising family kilometres of land. Only just bigger than the USA, loyalty. Buddhism is widespread, and has st China has almost five times as many inhabitants. diverged from its 1 century AD Indian roots. It is The people are of many different nationalities (over also distinct In Tibet from the rest of China. 56), some living in remote areas such as Mongolia Taoism, stressing mysticism and promising and Tibet. It helps, therefore, to think of China as immortality, was repressed during the 1960 s a collection of countries, like Europe Cultural Revolution Roman Catholicism, although state-controlled, One Chi ld Po l i cy flourishes but can cost its followers their livelihood. Foreigners may attend local churches, but Chinese Feeding so many people is a problem. One are banned from foreign Christian meetings on solution is to restrict married couples to having pain of these being outlawed. Evangelists are only one child, with severe penalties for additional prohibited and subject to extradition. The State or illegitimate children. As a result, there are a lot demands allegiance to itself before God or the of spoilt only children in China, nicknamed little Pope emperors . For example: a Chinese newspaper reported recently that young Chinese soldiers could not look after themselves, such as make their beds; and the Daily Mail, that they cannot tie shoe-laces Cl i mat e China lies on a similar latitude to the USA and its climate varies just as much. The north is a dry plain, with very cold winters; whilst the south is Tiananmen Square, Beijing lush green. In the whole country, summers are hot and humid; and spring is unpredictable. The best time of year, therefore, is the autumn To uri sm H i st o ry China is rapidly becoming a centre for tourists keen on seeing her many historic sights, especially China is a very old country, with a 5000 year-old the Great Wall, 6000 kilometres long, which was civilisation that boasts the invention of paper, built over 1000 years ago in an unsuccessful printing, gunpowder & the compass. In Chinese, attempt to keep out northern invaders. The Wall is China means Middle Kingdom , signifying that it claimed to be the only man-made structure visible is the centre of the world. Thus, the first of the two from space. Another favourite tourist attraction are Chinese characters for China is a square with a the Terracotta Warriors, a life-size army of clay vertical line through it, like a globe on its axis figures built to guard the tomb of the first Qin th emperor In the 19 century, China was a popular source of drugs for European countries, with which she became embattled in the so-called opium wars . As a result, Hong Kong was ceded to Great Britain in 1842, and not handed back to China until 1997 The emperor was deposed in 1911; and then, after periods of invasion by Japan and internal unrest, the Communists - winners of the civil war - founded the modern People s Republic of China on st 1 October 1949; whilst the losers retreated to the island of Taiwan and set up a rival regime The Great Wall of China ________________________________________________________________________________________________ Chinese Puzzles Page 0 5
  • Travel Travelling to and within China is not difficult, as long as you enjoy excitement. Aeroplanes may be less modern and comfortable than in Europe, but at least their pilots are first-class. Trains are the best way to see the countryside, especially for those with time on their hands to travel between Beijing and Moscow or Hong Kong. Cruises along the Yangtze River are a popular means of A Plumber s Shop, Guangzhou (Canton) exploring inland China. In the cities, besides buses, taxis are abundant and cheap but driven erratically; with plenty of pedicabs and rickshaws H o usi ng, S ho o l i ng and H o spi t als c for tourists. The number of private cars is steadily growing; and, in cities such as Shanghai and In many cities, foreigners may still be required to Guangzhou (Canton), they now compete with live in specially designated housing-compounds or motorcycles for road-space apartment-blocks. This also applies to mixed King of the road is the bicycle, the most popular marriages: if the wife is Chinese, her Western make being the “flying pigeon”. Wherever you go husband may not be allowed to live in local in China, there are hundreds upon thousands of housing but have to move with her to a foreign cyclists, supposedly in special cycle lanes as big compound. There is, however, some consolation: as roads but usually in the roads themselves, often she may have more than one child. In cities, most going in the wrong direction and never with lights. Chinese live in tower-blocks, provided for them by Indeed, cycle lights are illegal: image, if all bicycles their employers; their children attend schools had lights they would blind the cars! A treasured provided by their parents employer; and all receive possession, costing a month’s wage, a bicycle is a medical attention from similarly provided hospitals. means of family transport: the crossbar for the However, this cradle to grave provision by the child, and the rear parcel-carrier for the wife, even state, nick-named the “iron rice bowl”, is being when transporting goods to market. One theory phased out to be replaced by greater self- why Chinese dresses have slits down the side is to sufficiency. At the same time, state-owned allow ladies to pedal their bicycles! companies are being reformed – another word for “privatised”. China may have a Communist political regime, but her economy is slowly Clo t hi ng becoming capitalist Young and middle-aged Chinese have adopted Western dress; whilst many of the older generation Po st S ript c still wear Mao style suits, even the women. Bright colours are favoured for small girls – perhaps to The way to succeed in China is by slowly make them stand out more, since boys outnumber developing close and lasting personal girls about 5 to 4. Bright yellow, once the imperial relationships: “guanxi” – rather like the English “old colour, is popular. Older Chinese are not adverse boy network”. However, failure befalls anyone to mixing colours which clash by Western using the word “no” standards Out and A bo ut In the main cities, large Western-style department stores with Western goods jostle with small Chinese shops selling traditional produce and products. 5-star international hotels with gourmet restaurants compete with traditional lodgings and local eating-places. O’Malley’s Irish Pub, Mac- Donald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Hard Rock Café, Pizza Hut etc. abound and attract more Chinese than Westerners. Whilst visiting business-persons are treated to banquets of snake, sea slugs, fish-heads, jelly fish and the like, their hosts have probably had a Big Mac meal for lunch costing about £2/US$3! The Middle Kingdom ________________________________________________________________________________________________ Chinese Puzzles Page 0 6 Minim Consulting isthe trading partnership of Andrew and Eileen Williamson
  • The China Syndrome - Accommodation Introduction New or Old? This article deals solely with accommodation for Older property may not only have sub-standard expatriate business(wo)men - since for diplomats electricity, plumbing, heating and gas, but also and teachers (the other main categories of foreign need constant repair. Hence, it is probably better workers) accommodation is normally provided in to choose new property, even though standards of special compounds or by their Chinese employer, construction and finishing may be only superficially respectively acceptable. Indeed, since most engineering effort appears to be channelled into building rather than Availability maintenance, the secret is not to stay around long enough to watch property decay In some cities (e.g. Beijing and Shanghai), expatriates can now live quite legally in Chinese housing. Nevertheless, foreign tenants whose landlord refuses to register them - which is not uncommon, either through ignorance or distrust of the law – may be summarily evicted by the municipal authority if discovered during one of its periodic inspections In other cities, however, government policy is still Author’s house at Author’s house at to segregate foreigners from the local population, “Dragon Villas”, Beijing “Greenland Gardens”, Beijing and make them live in designated properties (e.g. foreign housing compounds) and “pay through the Furnished or Unfurnished? nose”. Thus, a dream cottage in the country or period house in the city may remain just that – a Except for hotels and serviced apartments, dream property may be rented furnished, hard-furnished or unfurnished. Choice Hard-furnished accommodation should include all Expatriates may choose from: hotels, aparthotels main white goods (e.g. cooker, fridge, dishwasher, (i.e. serviced apartments in an hotel), apartments washing machine, tumble dryer), major items of (serviced or not) and houses (linked and detached) furniture (e.g. lounge, dining and bedroom suites), with small gardens. Western designs abound, curtains, light fittings and television (linked to the including European and Spanish villas, Californian compound’s receiver, supplying international houses and neo-Georgian mansions; all built to foreign-language programmes). Furniture may be western standards using imported materials (e.g. imported, and of colonial or Mediterranean style hard-wood floors, Italian tiles and German air- Furnished accommodation should also include conditioning) – although, in some cases, what microwave, vacuum cleaner, iron, cooking utensils, constitutes “western” is imaginary rather than real! crockery, glassware, cutlery; and possibly table linen, bedding, lamps and some occasional Rent or Purchase? furniture; but probably not carpets, towelling or bed linen Although foreigners can purchase property, restrictions may apply as to what property (e.g. Most purpose-built accommodation for foreigners detached properties in Shanghai) and/or which has central heating, air-conditioning and two phone foreigners (e.g. overseas Chinese or Hong Kong lines: one for voice, and the other for fax/data residents). A further restriction, as a result of the state ownership of all land, is that property is Furniture leasehold only and reverts the state after 75 years. Purchasing automatically confers a permanent Unfurnished accommodation can be fully kitted residence visa – in theory but not necessarily in out locally, and not just at the main Department practice, given China’s fluid legal system Stores. Thus, there is really no need to take anything from the home country, apart from Given the superficial build quality of unscrupulous personal possessions. For the patient bargain- developers, and the poor maintenance of unskilled hunter and seasoned haggler, good-quality antique or unsupervised tradesmen, it is probably better to Chinese furniture - genuine and reproduction - is rent than purchase readily available at acceptable prices, and makes Page A1
  • The China Syndrome - Accommodation ______________________________________________________________________________________ excellent “souvenirs” back home at the end of the Accommodation posting (subject to export restrictions – see below) The alternatives range from: Purpose-built houses for foreigners often include: master bedroom with en-suite bathroom (with two ¾ locally-made plush, ornate, even gaudy new handbasins, shower and bath), family bedrooms furniture of varying quality and price, in an and bathroom, lounge, dining room, family room, attempt to emulate Western taste; through … study (converted bedroom), kitchen, utility room, ¾ imported or locally-made tasteful, if expensive, maid’s quarters, garage, balcony and storage area copies of colonial furniture, suitably - and (attic or basement) thankfully sometimes optionally - “distressed” or “aged” (e.g. in the “public” rooms); to … To protect the wooden floors (if your house has them): insist that everyone enters via the hall, and ¾ locally-made simple yet attractive, acceptable provide an assortment of “flip-flop” type slippers in and some even hard-wearing modern Chinese different sizes for them to change into furniture (e.g. in the “non-public” rooms) An alternative source of reasonably-priced good- quality household goods and furniture are Dining Room departing expatriates, who advertise in the various foreign-language magazines and/or on the notice Lounge boards in foreign housing compounds and/or supermarkets in Western-style hotels Kitchen Garage In other words: “you pays your money and you takes your pick” Hall For example: to furnish his unfurnished house with Maid a mixture of all the above, including antiques, the author was given a budget of US$30,000 (in 1998) Author s house at Greenland Gardens , Beijing - Floor 0 Bed Room Balcony Family Galleried Room Landing Study Inside the author s house at Dragon Villas , Beijing City Centre or Suburbs? Author s house at Greenland Gardens , Beijing - Floor 1 In choosing whether to live in the city centre or the suburbs, the arguments for and against each must be weighed up: Main Location City Centre Suburbs Bedroom Bedroom Convenience Quality of life (i.e. proximity to (e.g. fresh air and Dressing Landing For work & school) green spaces) Room Amenities Cheaper Balcony Travel time and Noise traffic congestion Against Pollution Isolation Expensive Lack of amenities Author s house at Greenland Gardens , Beijing - Floor 2 Page A2
  • The China Syndrome - Accommodation ______________________________________________________________________________________ Status the developer to comply once the residents are installed The status (i.e. type, location, size, furnishing etc.) A word of warning about shuttle-buses: some of of your accommodation may not only reflect your their drivers are the worst in the world own worth to your employer but also - and more importantly - be interpreted by others (Chinese and The estate management normally has an army of foreigners alike) as an indicator of your employer’s tradesmen and gardeners of indifferent ability at worth as a business its disposal: thus, do not be surprised if your lawn is cut by a small platoon using hand-shears! In other words: just as you are an “ambassador” for your employer, so is your accommodation its Rentals “residence” It is important, therefore, that your accommodation Rentals tend to be for a minimum of 12 months, should correctly reflect your employer’s worth, and renewable annually. Shorter periods may be in relation to accommodation provided by other available at a premium; whilst longer terms may comparable employers (e.g. not significantly much provide for earlier termination. A security deposit larger and/or more ornate than theirs) is required, normally equal to 3 months rent (but may be less for unfurnished accommodation). For example: the author had to submit to his Head Rent is not normally negotiable, though extras may Office details of accommodation provided by other be (e.g. club membership); and is payable in leading Western insurance companies advance, monthly or quarterly, usually in US$. Unfurnished accommodation may be cheaper than Security furnished, but not necessarily; and suburban rents than in the city Foreign compounds are normally very safe places, being surrounded by a perimeter fence or wall with Despite the greater choice and quality of security guards at the entrance gate and patrolling accommodation, expatriates may still be expected the grounds. Additionally, individual properties to pay exorbitant rents for the following reasons: may be fitted with intercom entry-phones, burglar ¾ They constitute a captive-market of wealthy alarms, security locks and strong entry-doors; and clients (see next point) chasing a finite supply occupants, drivers and maids required to carry ID of good quality Western-style accommodation cards. Nevertheless, burglaries and attacks do – although supply is now catching up with occur occasionally; for which reason it is advisable demand keep valuables in a locked cupboard (if not install a ¾ Expatriate executives are perceived as being safe) and carry a personal alarm or mobile phone, sufficiently affluent to afford high rents – respectively. Also, remember to reclaim keys and particularly those whose accommodation costs ID cards when dispensing with the services of are known or assumed to be borne by their maids and drivers; and that the landlord and estate employer management probably have spare keys for tradesmen to carry out maintenance and repairs, ¾ Real estate in Beijing and Shanghai is not always with the occupants’ knowledge amongst the most expensive in the world - although prices are gradually falling, as supply Since most landlords allow pets (subject to local catches up with demand and in the wake of the laws) and many Chinese are unaccustomed to and Asian crisis so afraid of them, dogs are an excellent deterrent, for whom gardens may be fairly easily secured According to Colliers Jardine, average rentals per 2 nd metre /month during the 2 quarter of 2002 were: Other “unwelcome visitors” include winged insects, which are best deterred by fitting fly-screens Average Luxury Luxury Service Rent per Residential Apart- Apart- 2 Facilities m /Month Market ments ments Beijing US$ 23 US$23 US$ 30 Foreign compounds and apartment-blocks often Shanghai US$ 17 claim to include: shops (e.g. western supermarket, hair- dresser, clothing), restaurant (Chinese and Utilities western), bar, clubhouse or recreational facilities (e.g. tennis, swimming, snooker, ten-pin bowling), Utilities (i.e. electricity, gas, water, telephone) and child-minding facilities. Before moving in, ensure service charges (e.g. management, cleaning, that such claims are true: there is less incentive for gardening, waste disposal, use of communal Page A3
  • The China Syndrome - Accommodation ______________________________________________________________________________________ facilities, club membership etc.) are usually ¾ The inspector will allow you to export only additional to, and not included in, the rental; and those items that (s)he deems than 150 years may be payable in RMB or US$ old - marking such items with a read wax seal Ensure that all utilities are connected and working and noting them on a Bureau of Antiquities before, and as condition of, moving in since there Export Permit is less incentive for the landlord to comply once the ¾ Unless you can persuade the inspector tenant is installed. In particular, check that the otherwise, (s)he will NOT allow you to export mains gas and water pressures are sufficient to items deemed older than 150 years, also meet peak demand (e.g. Sunday lunch and noting them on the same Export Permit summer, respectively). Be aware that electric ¾ A fee is payable for the inspection (the author plugs and sockets come in various shapes and paid RMB 150) plus a variable amount sizes (but normally 5-amp 2-pin flat); and stock up between RMB 5 and RMB 40 (approximately) on locally-available adaptors. Use only the most per read wax seal expensive plugs, sockets, adapters and wiring as also being the safest. The supply is 220 volts, 50 ¾ You should retain the Export Permit for cycles AC. As to drinking water: tap water is not customs clearance purposes drinkable; but most estate managers can organise regular deliveries of carboys which, for ease of use, should be connected to a freestanding hot/cold dispenser From figures published by FPD Savills, utility costs in Beijing during the 1st quarter of 2002 averaged: Electricity RMB 0.75 per kwh Gas RMB 2.30 per m3 Cold Water RMB 2.50 per ton Hot Water RMB 7.35 per ton Heating RMB 6.70 per m2 Restrictions on Exporting Antique Furniture In order to ship home any antiques that you purchase in China, you will need to arrange for them to be inspected by the Antiquities Bureau, as follows: ¾ (Ask a Chinese-speaking person to) contact the Bureau about four to six weeks before your removal date. In Beijing, their telephone number is +86 10 6401 4608 ¾ Before the inspection, ensure you have: Author s Export Permit 1. a letter from your employer, in Chinese, Moving Notices and Name Cards confirming the dates of your arrival in and departure from China In China, a change of address card is usually 2. your passport or residence card called a moving notice ; and, when appropriately 3. the corresponding receipts. (While not designed, can also serve as a personal name card necessary, a low value may persuade the For example: the author’s (see below) was: inspector that an item is too cheap to be a prohibited item) ¾ made of card 4. RMB cash for the inspection and ¾ the size of a compliments slip, so that it fitted certification fees easily into a standard business envelope ¾ divided by a vertical perforation into two ¾ Arrange (for your driver) to bring the inspector to your home, and hand over the letter from unequal portions (say 75% and 25%) – the your employer; and afterwards return him/her larger serving as the notice per se; the smaller to the Bureau as a (detachable) name card Page A4
  • The China Syndrome - Accommodation ______________________________________________________________________________________ ¾ printed on both sides: one in English, the other Help! in Chinese ¾ illustrated on the back of the name card portion To make sense of all the options and reach the with a sketch map, in English and Chinese, of optimum decision, it is advisable to retain the where he lived services of an estate agent (normally for a fee of one month s rent); and talk to other expatriates, especially about the service level of the estate management Some estate agents (and removal companies) also offer relocation services, such as country briefing, cultural orientation and a local induction programme Removal Companies Beijing Crown Worldwide Room 201 West Tower Golden Bridge Building A1 Jianguomenwai Dajie Beijing 100020 Tel: +86 10 6585 0640 Fax: +86 10 6585 0648 E-Mail: beijing@crownrelo.com Web: www.crownworldwide.com Shanghai Crown Worldwide Room 6303-6305 Rui Jin Business Centre No. 118 Rui Jin Er Road Author s change of address and personal name card Shanghai 200020 - front (top) and back (above) Tel: +86 21 6472 0254 Fax: +86 21 6472 0255 The purpose of such an arrangement is to: E-Mail: shanghai@crownrelo.com ¾ notify Chinese and non-Chinese speakers of Web: www.crownworldwide.com your new address ¾ provide both with directions for taxi-drivers, who may not be familiar with areas primarily Estate Agents inhabited by foreigners Beijing Colliers Jardine ¾ allow non-Chinese correspondents to stick a 1606 Capital Mansion photocopy of the Chinese version on their mail 6 Xin Yuan Nan Road to you, which the local postal workers can read Chaoyang District Beijing 100004 Should you move without knowing your new Tel: +86 10 8486 3099 permanent address (e.g. when you arrive in China, Fax: +86 10 8486 3789 or move from one city to another, or return home), E-Mail: Amanda_Goa@cj-group.com distribute cards with at least your mobile phone Web: www.colliersjardine.com.cn number and e-mail address - for example: FPD Savills 415 East Wing Office China World Trade Centre 1 Jianguomenwai Dajie Beijing 100004 Tel: +86 10 6505 2348 Fax: +86 10 6505 2356 E-mail: mpurefoy@fpdsaviils-bj.com Web: www.fpdsavills-china.com Page A5
  • The China Syndrome - Accommodation ______________________________________________________________________________________ Jones Lang LaSalle Unit 12. 8/F, Tower B Full Link Plaza No. 18 Chaoyangmenwai Avenue Beijing 100020 Tel: +86 10 6588 1300 Fax: +86 10 6588 1330 E-Mail: david.hand @ap.joneslanglasalle.com Web: www.joneslanglasalle.com.cn Photos: www.beijingrosegarden.com.cn Shanghai Colliers Jardine 1881 City Centre Tower B 100 Zun Yi Road Shanghai 200051 Tel: +86 21 6237 0088 Fax: +86 21 6237 2122 E-Mail: Lin_Wong@cj-group.com Web: www.colliersjardine.com.cn Photos: Beijing This Month, May 1998 FPD Savills Unit 2301-2308 Bibliography 23/F Shanghai Central Plaza 381 Huai Hai Middle Road Luwan District General China, Lonely Planet Publications, th Shanghai 200020 Australia, 7 edition, 2000, pp. 132, 134 Tel: +86 21 6391 6688 China Business Handbook 2002, China Fax: +86 21 6391 6699 Economic Review, Alain Charles th E-mail: rhall@fpdsavills-sh.com Publishing Ltd, 5 edition, London, 2002, Web: www.fpdsavills-china.com pp. 39, 42, 370-371 Jones Lang LaSalle Culture Shock! China, Kevin Sinclair with rd 48/f Shanghai Plaza 66 Iris Wong Po-yee, Kuperard, London, 3 1266 Nanjing Rd (West) edition, 1999, pp. 210-211 Jing An District Greater China Property Index, Jones Lang Shanghai 200040 China LaSalle, China, July 2002, pp. 8, 12 Tel: +86 21 6393 3333 Greater China Residential Market Fax: +86 21 6393 3080 Overview, Colliers Jardine, China, July E-Mail: calvin.yang 2002, pp. 3-5 @ap.joneslanglasalle.com Web: www.joneslanglasalle.com.cn Guide to Household Moving, Crown Worldwide, Beijing, 1998, pp. 16-17 Living and Working in China, Employment Examples of Expatriate Compounds in Beijing Conditions Abroad Limited, UK, 1996, pp. 18-19, 25-28 Living and Working in China, Christina Hall, How To Books, Plymouth (UK), 1996, pp. 58-63, 92 Beijing Beijing, Lonely Planet Publications, rd Australia, 3 edition, 1998, pp. 57, 121 Beijing Scene Guidebook, Beijing Scene Publishing, USA, 1997, pp. 203-217, 223- 233 Welcome to Beijing, Jones Lang Wootton, Beijing, 1997. p. 26 Shanghai Shanghai, Lonely Planet Publications, st Australia, 1 edition, 2001, pp. 70, 136 Information correct as at August 2002 Page A6
  • The China Syndrome - Accommodation ______________________________________________________________________________________ Appendix Author’s Shipping List Apart from clothes and other personal items such The list comprises items that are: as anyone would take on holiday, the author s ¾ personal (e.g. photographs) family flew the following items to China on several flights, and was only once charged for excess ¾ difficult or impossible to obtain locally (e.g. baggage: picture hooks) ¾ available locally but of poor quality (e.g. potato peeler) ________________________________________ Kitchen ________________________________________ Lounge Cafetiere Cake tins Books Cassettes Cheese board Cheese knife CDs Games Ice-cream scoop Iron (steam) Hearth Rug Ornaments (small) Meat charger Meat Roasting tin Photographs, pictures Picture hooks Milk jug ) stainless Potato peeler & certificates (all framed) Video player and Videos Sugar bowl ) steel Tea strainer ________________________________________ Thermos bag Tin opener Hobbies Trays Music stands & scores Fishing tackle ________________________________________ Dining Room Violin ________________________________________ Post Script Candlesticks Coasters Cutlery Meat carvers Note: It was impossible to rent or purchase a Napkin rings Tablemats decent upright piano at a reasonable ________________________________________ price; for which reason the author s wife Other had to contend with a locally manufactured good-quality electronic keyboard Barbecue utensils Cable clips Desk set Garden games On the other hand, it was possible to purchase a top-quality drum-kit for the Racquets (squash & tennis) author s son at a reasonable price Page A7
  • Chi nese Puzzl es – A voi d Tabo o S bj ect s u 6. DO NOT: a. Ask: “Have you got children?” In our 1. Chinese people may be genuinely offended if you experience, even the most Westernised Chinese criticise Mao (or other party leaders, dead or alive), may find this question funny, and laugh in your the government, or anything to do with politics face at your ignorance of the one-child policy. Instead, say: “Have you got a child?” or even ¡ However: Do not be surprised or caught off “Have you got a son?”. Be prepared for guard or tempted if they criticise them to you! boasting about a son, and lamenting over a Especially Mao’s alleged penchant for large daughter female tractor drivers! Or the spoilt only-sons or b. Say “no” (see Page 28: Meeting and Greeting – little emperors produced by the one-child policy! paragraphs 11-12) In our case, the former subject was raised by a Chinese colleague with whom we had a close c. Preach the Gospel, or invite Chinese to your relationship; the latter by a very senior Church. Nevertheless, you may mention your government official, father of a daughter, whom I faith and visit a Chinese Church. Certainly, our had only just met at a select banquet friends and colleagues asked us about Christianity and were disappointed they could not attend our Church, not realising it was 2. They are worried that someone overhears the forbidden. When I declared Good Friday a conversation and reports it to the party secretary and company holiday, one colleague wanted to they get into trouble “convert” on the spot! – a modern day example of a “rice Christian” 3. The person you are talking to may have been sent by a party official to sound out if you are politically safe S fe S bj ect s a u ¡ On one occasion, when visiting an academic institution with our chairman, the host delegation was led by the institution’s party secretary rather 7. These subjects are safe to talk about: than the Dean ¡ food, weather, landscapes, sights in China, your family, their family, money, wealth, income, 4. Subjects to avoid, at least until you have been in careers, non-political literature, hobbies, sport, China long enough to develop an instinct for what you stamp collecting, holidays and festivals, customs can say, when and to whom: and traditions, food and cooking, holidays; entertainment (TV, films, music), clothes ¡ Chinese politics, human rights, Tibet, explicit ¡ When talking about jobs and careers, do not be sex, boyfriend/girlfriend, violence, drugs; surprised by an apparent inverted social Tiananmen Square, Taiwan hierarchy (in Western terms). For example: ¡ We were very surprised, only a few days after whilst practising conversational Chinese and arriving in China in 1997, when my then English with our first driver (my Chinese, his Personal Assistant spoke very openly about English), after I struggled to explain that my Tiananmen Square: she had been there, as a father was dead and had been a doctor, he student; whilst her now husband (this was before beamed back at me in obvious pride and with they were married), a doctor, attended to the great superiority that his father was a peasant casualties in hospital 5. Subjects with which you must deal in a sensitive way are: ¡ Politics in other countries; freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and freedom to choose a job, career or place to live; sex in connection with marriage, health or crime; religion; the supernatural; one child policy ¡ For many Chinese, still their lives are chosen for them: jobs according to degree, accommodation according to employer etc. For example: when Source: Christine Hall, Living and Working in China, How to Books, asked by a very senior government official what Plymouth (UK) 1996, pp. 87,106 was the greatest benefit of my job, I replied: Comments: Minim Consulting, based on personal experience “Being able to resign” ________________________________________________________________________________________________ “Chinese Puzzles” – Page 0 8 Minim Consulting isthe trading partnership of Andrew and Eileen Williamson
  • Chinese Puzzles - Banqueting Introduction to the banquet room, which the most senior guest should enter first. If the hosts greet their guests This article describes the etiquette for formal with applause, the correct response is to applaud banquets hosted by Chinese for foreign guests, back. Before eating, the (principal) guests may be and vice-versa, in China. Whilst the degree of invited to sit in easy-chairs, offered tea and formality may vary, according to the nature and cigarettes, and briefly indulge in small-talk, until the importance of the occasion, the number of people, restaurant staff indicate that everything is ready the individuals involved and their relationships with each other, the underlying principles are still the Seating same (although they are being gradually relaxed) Seating is hierarchical, based on rank. Thus: the Displaying some knowledge of banquet etiquette hosts should request or be sent before-hand a list demonstrates respect for Chinese way of life of the guests’ names, in order of seniority, in order to prepare seating plans; and guests wait to be Venue shown to their seats, normally indicated by bi- lingual name cards (and/or, at large banquets, on Banquets are usually held in reserved private table-plans displayed outside the banquet room). rooms in restaurants. Round tables are preferred, This also ensures that the Chinese and foreigners as they seat more diners (ten to twelve each) and mingle, rather than gravitating into two camps allow them to face each other As in the West, the right-hand side is of higher Invitations status than the left: hence, the principal guest sits on the right-hand of the principal host, facing the door; and the second-ranking guest and host For very formal banquets, written invitations may directly opposite. Any interpreters are placed on be issued in English and/or Chinese (one or two the right-hand of the principal and second-ranking weeks in advance) which recipients should answer guests (or opposite, at a rectangular table), which - in writing or by ‘phone - and may need to produce avoids them constantly having to swivel their head. to gain entry. The invitation will specify the host, If several tables are used, third and fourth rankers date, time, venue and, where appropriate, the may sit opposite each other at a second table; and occasion and principal guest fifth and sixth at a third etc. Alternatively, second rankers may head a second table, and third rankers a third etc. In both cases, the top table is the furthest away from door; and the secondary tables arranged so that their senior hosts can see and be seen by the principal host at the top table. With mixed guests (from different organisations), the most senior member of each delegation should sit at the top table. On less formal occasions, the organisers should still work out beforehand where the principal host(s) and guest(s) will sit So much for the theory: in reality, the list of Chinese guests may not be finalised until the last minute, since their acceptances or refusals could be telephoned very late. Worse still: a guest who is unable to attend may send a substitute, possibly of Author’s invitation to a banquet in honour of the different rank, which will upset the seating protocol British Prime Minister – Beijing, October 1998 x x x Arrival and Welcome Principal Host Interpreter D nd In China, punctuality is a virtue, and tardiness an Principal 2 Ranking o Guest Guest o insult. Thus: guests should arrive on time (and nd r together, if members of the same organisation); Interpreter 2 Ranking whilst the hosts assemble earlier in the banquet Host room ready to greet the guests, to keep whom x x x waiting is even ruder. On arrival, guests should be met by the hosts’ representative and accompanied Simple seating plan for a one-table banquet Page 9 / 1
  • Chinese Puzzles - Banqueting Toasting When the host yourself: avoid serving alcohol beforehand Alcohol plays an important part in banquets, and Although well-bred Chinese women do not drink should flow freely. Toasting is mandatory alcohol (except beer) in public, Western female Drinking alcohol should not start until after the guests may do so in moderation without incurring principal host stands to propose the first toast any shame, as the Chinese do expect Westerners with a speech (averaging three to five minutes) to behave strangely! and/or the words “gan bei” (equivalent to “bottoms up”; literally “empty” or “dry the glass”). A few Serving courses later, it is customary and courteous for the principal guest to reply in similar fashion. The main difference from Western practice is that Thereafter, anyone may propose a toast, to the in China, rather than diners being served individual group or individually, standing or sitting, spoken or plates of food, dishes are placed in the centre of silently, with alcohol or a soft drink. Indeed, never the table for everyone not only to share but also to drink alcohol alone: instead, catch someone’s eye, admire make a silent toast by smiling, and drink together Appreciation of the presentation is almost as To make a toast: hold the glass in both hands and important as of the taste. Thus, guests are extend it towards the toastee, without clinking. At expected ritually to praise both - both from time to one time, glasses had to be drained and turned time during, and at the end of, the banquet. upside down: today, however, sobriety has Beware, however, of ritually praising food that replaced tradition, and a token sip is now quite you do not like: your host may remember, and sufficient & acceptable. At less formal banquets, serve the same again next time! Chinese now touch the table (“lazy Susan”) with Equally, self-deprecation is considered polite the bottom of their glass, instead of clinking them behaviour in China, the host should reply by If several tables are used, it is customary and ritually apologising for serving a meagre meal – courteous for the principal host and guest to visit which the cynics might consider false modesty & propose a standing toast to each table, clinking “fishing for compliments” glasses (rim to stem) with other principal guests In the absence of waiters, it is the hosts’ The main toasting drink is “maotai”, a 100%+ spirit responsibility to monitor guests’ plates and serve made in Maotai (Guizhou Province) from wheat & them throughout the meal. Do not start the first sorghum (a type of millet), which could be course until either the principal host has served mistaken for lighter-fuel. You have been warned! the principal guest and others within chopstick reach (by selecting the best morsels and placing Drinking them on their plates) or raised his chopsticks and invited the diners to eat. Then you may serve Between toasts, sip beer, a soft drink or tea. If yourself with your own chopsticks, or the public your glass or cup is empty, however, do not fill it chopsticks or serving spoons (if provided). With yourself, which is impolite. Rather, take care to fill successive courses, it is equally polite again to your neighbours’, and you should find that they wait until the principal guests have been served will reciprocate. The fuller you fill someone’s before serving yourself glass, without it spilling over, the more respect and Help yourself to the dishes and portions nearest to friendship you demonstrate you: it is rude to reach across the table and/or help Beware of the host who tries to make you drunk or yourself to the best portions. Rather, take care to challenge you to drinking games: it may be a offer the choicest morsels to your neighbours, and matter of courtesy or honour for him to do so! To you should find that they will reciprocate. Indeed, be drunk, or exhibit signs of drunkenness, in helping fellow diners to food is both polite and public (e.g. staggering, falling, vomiting) is shows respect. If public chopsticks and serving unacceptable and a loss of face. A polite way of spoons are out of reach, reverse your chopsticks refusing alcohol is to turn the glass upside down or and use the end that has not been in your mouth. place your hand over it. In desperation, cite health Do not serve with a spoon used for personal eating reasons (e.g. allergy!); and, to save face, continue Note, however, that, contrary to Western custom, to toast eagerly with a soft drink! Chinese protocol is to serve others rather than Do not stop drinking, or change from hard to soft oneself, although this practice is changing through drinks, in the middle of a banquet, since the hosts foreign influence. You should, therefore, observe may incorrectly conclude they have offended you how the Chinese diners behave and follow suit Page 9 / 2
  • Chinese Puzzles - Banqueting Eating Menu Diners can eat as much or little as they like of each A banquet is a demonstration of the generosity and course, according to their taste, without offending prosperity of the host by giving the guests a taste the host. However, they should pace themselves, of many different dishes served successively eating slowly and steadily, and tasting a bit of The banquet will start with an even number (four to everything; and not rush or fill up too early, since it ten) of cold appetizers (e.g. meat, seafood and to stop eating in the middle of a banquet is rude, pickled vegetables), which do not count as part of and may lead the hosts incorrectly to conclude that the meal proper but are intended to whet the they have caused offence diners’ appetites and to accompany the first toast. To refuse food is at worst impolite; and at best The main courses (6-12) follow, comprising hot ineffective, susceptible to being interpreted by the meat, fish or “yu”, poultry, seafood and vegetable Chinese in their own terms as ritual modesty, not dishes; and staple food (e.g. rice or “mifan”, to be taken literally. However, to refrain from noodles, dumplings or “jiaozi”). The Chinese do eating something is acceptable (albeit ungracious). not generally eat dessert, but fruit is considered Indeed, you should try to sample every dish an appropriate finale to a good meal Thus, when faced with something you dislike or distrust, accept but do not eat it: instead, just push Banquet offered by the British Embassy and the it around on your plate a bit and pretend you have British Chamber of Commerce in China to honour sampled it. The main exception to this rule is the British Prime Minister – Beijing, October 1998 when your host serves you personally, even from his own plate, when he has probably chosen the Barbecued Meat Combination most succulent morsel. On such an occasion, to Sautéed Diced Chicken with Assorted Vegetables refuse would be an insult: sometimes, you just and Cashew Nuts have to grin and swallow! Sliced Goose with Bean Curd To remove something from your mouth: use your Diced Beef Tenderloin in Black Pepper Sauce chopsticks or spit discreetly into a cloth rather than Braised Shark’s Fin and Fish Maw in Soup using your fingers (which is considered impolite) Steamed Mandarin Fish with Light Soya Sauce Young Vegetables In Superior Broth Chopsticks (“kwaizi”) Glutinous Rice in Lotus Leaves Westerners who have difficulty using chopsticks Beijing Pork Dumpling may use the porcelain spoon provided at each Traditional Moon Cake with Lotus Bean Paste place setting, but only after “having a go”. Whilst Seasonal Fresh Fruit Platter foreigners who find chopsticks awkward do not offend them, the Chinese do appreciate their trying: after all, they cannot all use a knife and fork! Fish The Chinese use chopsticks any way they like, even spearing food with them (despite what the When serving a whole fish, the head should point books say). If there is a correct way, however, it towards, and may be offered to, the principal guest is to use your right hand (to avoid clashing with your neighbour), whilst keeping your left on the Rice table (to avoid any speculation as to what it is doing). Also, the nearer the top (i.e. further away Hosts may not always serve rice at a banquet; in from tip) you hold the chopsticks, the better bred which case, guests should never ask for it, as this you are considered would imply that the host has not provided enough food. Similarly, when rice is served, guests only It is bad manners to play with chopsticks, point need to pick at it, by way of indicating their them at anyone, or lay them directly on the table. satisfaction. (This is in contrast to private meals, Above all, do not leave your chopsticks in the rice- where, in deference to the importance of rice in bowl while doing something else - which is an Chinese history & culture, to leave rice is impolite: omen of death, being reminiscent of incense sticks just as Western children are encouraged to “finish in a bowl of ashes offered to the dead: instead, lay their greens”, so Chinese children are to eat their them on the rest provided, or the rim of your plate rice). Surprisingly, the correct way to eat rice is to raise the bowl to your mouth with one hand, and “shovel in” the rice with the chopsticks Page 9 / 3
  • Chinese Puzzles - Banqueting Noodles Drivers and Interpreters Do not be surprised if the Chinese diners eat the Ensure that arrangements are made to feed your noodles noisily as a sign of their enjoyment and guests’ drivers, according to local custom (from appreciation providing a simple meal in a separate room, to giving them cash to buy their own food somewhere However, eating noisily on other occasions (e.g. else) soup) is no longer as acceptable as it used to be For example: when hosting his first large-scale Soup senior banquet (including the British Ambassador and the Chair of the People’s Life Insurance Soup (a thin broth to aid digestion) may be served Company of China), only thanks to the author’s before or after the main courses, depending on Chinese personal assistant’s quick-wittedness was where in China; and dispensed by the host. The a near-disaster averted when she took immediate bowl may be held in one hand, and the soup remedial action on learning that no such sipped from the bowl or using a porcelain spoon arrangements had been made for the drivers Similarly: agree beforehand how and when the Bones interpreter(s) should eat For example: at the author’s first formal banquet, Leave bones and shells on your plate, which the the British guests were embarrassed that the waiters will remove and replace with a clean one Chinese interpreter was not expected to eat until the end of the meal Conversation Gifts Normal rules of conversational etiquette in China apply (as for business meetings and negotiations). Personal gifts may be left at the place settings Thus, diners other than the principals may have to before the banquet begins; whilst the principal or wait to be invited to speak communal gifts (i.e. between the principal guest For example: at his first formal banquet on a and host) should be presented publicly and single-table hosted by a Vice-Minister of the formally at an appropriate moment, using both Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Co- hands (e.g. when making or responding to the Operation (MOFTEC), the author had to remain main toast) silent for nearly one hour Each side should let the other side know of its gift, In particular, your neighbours may not speak to avoid the embarrassment of one party coming English: however, if you do not know Chinese, you empty-handed and being unable to reciprocate should still try to communicate with them somehow In China, the thought counts more than the gift (“li (e.g. in another language). Not to do so is a social qing; ren yi zhong”); for which reason, it is not blunder customary to open gifts in the presence of the For example: when the author’s wife found herself giver, since to do so would draw attention to the next to the Director-General of the Chinese gift, and detract from the thought. Thus, personal Performing Arts Agency, they were soon gifts are not opened during the banquet, but conducting a very animated conversation in afterwards in private – which practice also avoids Spanish! the embarrassment of having to feign drooling over kitsch. Exceptionally, however, you may ask the Never speak off the record at a banquet: your Chinese to open your principal or communal gift to words may come back to haunt you. Also, some them, explaining that this is a Western custom say: wait until after the fish dish has arrived to discuss business Smoking Dress Smoking between courses is not unusual Standard banquet attire is a dark, lounge suit and Although Chinese women tend not to smoke, and tie for men; and a dress or trouser suit for ladies. especially in public, Western female guests may There is no need to wear a dinner-jacket, unless do so in moderation without incurring shame, as specifically requested (for example: as the author the Chinese expect Westerners to behave oddly! was, at the China Club in Beijing) Page 9 / 4
  • Chinese Puzzles - Banqueting Spouses The host may bid the guests farewell (with a handshake) at the door; or accompany them to Chinese partners do not normally attend, even if their cars, remaining outside, waving, until all have foreigners’ spouses are invited (and seated at the left – before returning to the restaurant, alone, to same table, where feasible). As elsewhere, the settle the bill most honoured place for the principal guest’s Evening banquets usually start at 6 p.m., last some spouse is on the left-hand of the principal host 2 hours, and finish by 8 p.m. Any later, and you may find that the Chinese guests, who prefer to go Toothpicks to an evening banquet straight from work, cannot attend and/or get transport home As elsewhere, use one hand to wield the toothpick, For example: in the author’s experience, the later the other to hide your mouth from onlookers start and finish times in summer suggested by some writers (e.g. 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. respectively) Touching Food are not convenient to the Chinese Touching food is generally impolite. There are Reciprocating some exceptions, however, such as eating large steamed buns, meat on the bone (e.g. chicken The host pays bill; and the guests reciprocate with feet, a delicacy in China), Peking duck, shellfish a return banquet. “Going Dutch” is unheard of in and whole fruits with your fingers – although using China except between very close friends, when chopsticks is quite feasible, as the author had to money should only be exchanged in private to learn. When in doubt: follow the example of the avoid the host losing face Chinese diners Similarly: if you drop food on the floor, leave it Help! Towels Food in China bears no relation to that served in Western Chinese restaurants. Indeed, there is a Towels are provided at the beginning and end of saying: “the Chinese eat anything that flies, except the banquet for the diners to wipe their hands and aeroplanes; anything with legs, except tables; and face: hot in winter, cold in summer anything in the sea, except submarines” To avoid any nasty surprises or loss of face: Timing, Closure and Departure ¾ refrain from live food (e.g. drunk prawns) It is not only polite but also “de rigueur” for the ¾ sometimes it is better not to know what you are host to over-order; and the guests to leave eating: snake & alligator are really quite tasty! something on their plates to signify their hunger ¾ familiarise yourself with such euphemisms as: has been satisfied. Thus, if all the food were field chicken” for “bull frogs”; and “sea consumed, or bowls emptied, the host would be cucumber” for “sea slugs” embarrassed, thinking he had left the guests hungry. Before leaving, therefore, guests should ¾ if your staff insist on trying out new dishes on not hesitate to tell their host that they have eaten you: ask if you can choose a dish, choose the enough most outrageous dish that you dare (for example: the author ordered pig tail) and eat it Contrary to Western practice, it is the host, not the with relish: they may not trouble you again guests, who takes the initiative in bringing the ¾ Chinese food is often laced with mono-sodium proceeding to a close glutamate (“weijing”), which swells inside you Thus, the banquet ends after the last course, with and makes you feel full. If you react badly to it, little ceremony beyond the host thanking the try asking in Western-style restaurants for food guests for coming, asking if they have had enough without MSG (“qing gei wo mei you weijing”) to eat (to which the polite reply is “yes”) and rising Otherwise: if you do not have a strong stomach, from table. Chinese manners call for a speedy ask for an alternative assignment! conclusion: to linger is impolite. Thus, there is no “Tischgespraech” or “over-coffee table-talk” Post Script Ensure, therefore, that your transport home is waiting for you at the end of the banquet: to be left Remember: business banquets serve to build trust standing around alone will embarrass your host and friendship Page 9 / 5
  • Chinese Puzzles - Banqueting From the Author’s Photograph Album Bibliography General A Chinese Banquet, chineseculture.about.com, 2002 Beijing, Insight Guides, Apa Publications, 3rd edition, Hong Kong, 1997, pp. 70-73 Beijing, Lonely Planet Publications, rd Australia, 3 edition, 1998, p. 127 Beijing Scene Guidebook, Beijing Scene Publishing, USA, 1997, pp. 84-87 1 2 3 4 5 China, Insight Guides, Apa Publications, th 9 edition, Singapore, 2000, pp. 134, 136, 403 China, Lonely Planet Publications, The top table at the Banquet to launch the “Britain in th Australia, 7 edition, 2000, p. 147 China” campaign, China World Hotel, Beijing, January rd 1998. From left to right: (1) 3 Guest of Honour: Sir China Business Handbook, Alain Charles th John Carter, CEO, Commercial Union (2) Interpreter Publishing, 5 edition, London, 2002, pp. (3) Principal Guest: Minister, MOFTEC (4) Host: Adam 51-52 Williams, Chair, British Chamber of Commerce in China China Introduction, China Travel Guide, nd (5) 2 Guest of Honour: Rt. Hon Margaret Beckett MP, chinatravelguide.com, 2002 Trade Secretary Cultural Essentials, chinavista.com, 2002 Culture Shock! China, Sinclair and Wong rd Po-yee, Kuperard, UK, 3 edition, 1999, pp. 234-236 Dealing with the Chinese, Scott D Seligman, Management Books 2000, 1997, pp. 80, 83-102, 105, 109-110, 165-8 Encountering the Chinese, Hu Wenzhong & Cornelius L Grove, Intercultural Press, USA, 1991, pp. 33-37, 146-151 Living and Working in China, Employment Conditions Abroad Limited, UK, 1996, p. 7 Old Shanghai, Betty Peh-T’I Wei, Oxford University Press, Hong Kong, At the same Banquet: the Host and Principal British 1993, pp. 60-62 Guest visit and propose a standing toast to each table Shanghai, Lonely Planet Publications, st Australia, 1 edition, 2001, pp. 137, 139- 140 Travel Tips, China National Tourism Association, cnta.com, 2002 Welcome to Beijing, Jones Lang Wootton, Beijing, 1997. pp. 19, 21 Xenophobe’s Guide to the Chinese, J C rd Yang, Oval Books, 3 edition, 1999, pp. 50-51 Author A general view of the same Banquet, including (in the foreground) the table hosted by the author Page 9 / 6
  • Chinese Puzzles – Business Meetings Introduction urgency until they arrive in China, since anything could happen in meantime to abort the visit This article describes the etiquette for business Meetings are often re-arranged at the last minute meetings in China between foreigners and the Chinese. Whilst the degree of formality may vary, For example: a Chinese Vice-Minister’s office according to the nature and importance of the telephoned the author to bring forward a meeting occasion, the relationship between the individuals immediately with his Deputy CEO, who was then involved, the underlying principles are the same hosting a luncheon for very - but less - senior government officials, or otherwise to cancel it. The correct observance of meeting etiquette Rank prevailed, and the meeting went ahead (on improves the chances of securing a useful meeting empty stomachs!). To ensure we complied, as an and a successful outcome alternative the Vice-Minister offered a meeting at the original time but with another Ministry official Arranging Meetings - How presiding of lower rank than himself and the Deputy CEO, which would have caused the latter It is common, if not necessary, for intermediaries to lose “face” in Chinese eyes (see next section) (individual or corporate) to arrange meetings on Occasionally, meetings may be cancelled at the behalf of the parties themselves who may: last minute, amidst much embarrassment - ¾ not know each other, and hence need to rely especially if the foreign principal has already on third parties whom they both know and trust arrived in China - because the Chinese principal (following the Chinese practice of personal has been “summoned” by the powers that be networking or “guanxi”) For example: the author’s boss arrived in China ¾ be of such seniority that it would be infra dig, in one Sunday for an early Monday morning meeting Chinese terms (i.e. loss of face), for them to (confirmed as late as possible on Friday afternoon) make their own arrangements with the Chair of the People’s Life Insurance ¾ not speak each other’s language, and hence Company of China [PICC Life] only to be told that need the services of someone who does she had just been invited a week-long Party event The process may involve several levels of To protest is futile intermediary; and be by telephone and/or in writing For example: the Chinese President treated the For example: the author’s bi-lingual personal British Premier in like manner when the latter was assistant or senior English-speaking Chinese the principal guest at an official banquet in Beijing, colleague would usually arrange his meetings via summoning him half-way through to an impromptu the other parties’ opposite numbers, whom they meeting - after he had already arrived late at the invariably knew directly or through a friend of a banquet because the scheduled meeting with the friend, using their “guanxi”. However, the author President had over-run used consultants with impeccable political credentials to broker meetings between his group In such ways, do the Chinese put foreigners in board members & Chinese government ministers their place, and remind them who is in charge! Arranging Meetings - When Arranging Meetings – With Whom Arranging meetings is a nightmare; and flexibility Meetings should take place between principles of the solution equal rank, to save the “face” of the Chinese principle – which means in practice that the rank of Contrary to Western practice, appointments should the: be made later rather than earlier. The Chinese so ¾ foreign principal will determine the maximum dislike committing to future appointments (in case available rank of the Chinese counterpart they cannot keep them) that they actually prefer last-minute arrangements when they have a ¾ Chinese principal will determine the minimum clearer idea of the other calls on their time - say: required rank of the foreign counterpart not more than two weeks ahead Hence, until the details of the foreign principal are Sometimes, meetings may not be finalised until the confirmed, the rank of the Chinese principal may day before, or the day itself. This is especially not be made known – let alone the name. Meeting frustrating when delegates are attending from the a (Vice-)Minister may be difficult; but nothing home country and are already on the airplane; but compared to meeting a specific one, which is explained by the Chinese view that there is no requires the cast-iron guarantee of a specific foreign principal of at least equal rank Page 11 / 1
  • Chinese Puzzles – Business Meetings For example: from the author’s own experience, a ¾ questions that you may and may not ask of the titled CEO (“Sir so-and-so”) certainly open doors Chinese organisation The provenance of the foreign principal is also ¾ plans and achievements of your organisation, important: that someone should come all the way and its main competitors, in relation to China from the UK or USA (even if resident in China) is a ¾ history of your organisation’s previous greater sign of commitment to and respect for relationship and meetings with the Chinese China than, say, from Singapore or Hong Kong organisation, at home and in China ¾ overall key aims and objectives of the meeting; Preparation and individual contributions and roles and that all who may be called upon to speak, not Chinese organisations typically request back- just the leader, know exactly what and not to say ground information before they agree to formal discussions, for the following reasons: For example: the author had to ensure that a full briefing-pack was prepared for each programme of ¾ The Chinese dislike surprises, preferring to meetings between his group board members and hammer out their own positions in advance of senior Chinese government officials (at about six- a meeting in order to present a united front. In weekly intervals), including a literal transcript of an a country where collectivity takes precedence opening speech, follow-up remarks and questions, over individuality, consensus is not only very and answers to Frequently Answered Questions important but also serves to take advantage of collective wisdom and build self-confidence Otherwise, meetings can quickly resemble Daniel ¾ Similarly, they also prefer to react to others’ going into the lion’s den ideas, rather than bear the onus of setting the For example: Within days of arriving in China, the scope of the discussions themselves author was invited by a Chinese colleague to pay a ¾ Knowing what will be discussed beforehand “courtesy call” on an acquaintance, a mid-ranking also permits them to select the proper official at the People’s Bank of China [PBOC]. participants for a meeting. Otherwise, What constituted “courtesy” was never defined, foreigners are likely to be fobbed off with public and did not seem to warrant a briefing. However, relations personnel who have a liaison role, but meeting etiquette still had to be observed, and the are not decision makers author expected to deliver a speech (albeit impromptu). Afterwards, when she commented ¾ To establish credentials of and on both sides favourably on the lack of formality, the Chinese Consequently: provide as much information as colleague was suitably admonished to brief her possible about the topics that you wish to discuss, boss before all meetings, however “informal” and a list of attendees with brief career résumés; and give the Chinese time to study your request. Purpose Likewise, do ask the Chinese for similar information, if they request the meeting From that courtesy call, it became clear that the Documentation should be bi-lingual, in straight- Chinese expect all meetings to have a purpose forward language (to ease interpretation) and, if that benefits them: otherwise, why give up their tabled at the meeting, presented with both hands precious time? Unless the Chinese feel that you have something new to say or offer, or that they Briefing are gaining new benefit at each meeting, they will soon cease agreeing to meeting you. Reminiscing does not fall into that category Ensure that every member of your group is fully briefed about the relevant: Venue ¾ meeting etiquette ¾ recent and planned developments in China In China, meetings are generally held in spacious, (e.g. political, economic and legal) air-conditioned conference rooms rather than ¾ details of the Chinese organisation you are overcrowded, noisy and stuffy offices. Soft chairs visiting (e.g. structure and performance) and sofas line the perimeter of the room or are ¾ personal details and career history of the arranged around a central oblong table. Next to Chinese principal and senior ranking attendees the chairs are small tables for the teacups, which are constantly filled by a discrete army of flunkies ¾ questions that the Chinese organisation may ask of you; and answers that you may and In the author’s experience, ashtrays and spittoons may not give were never provided or used Page 11 / 2
  • Chinese Puzzles – Business Meetings Timing Unusually, refreshments may accompany the welcome occasionally, even delaying proceedings Office hours are generally 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. For example: on first meeting a College Principal, with a statutory lunch-break at mid-day. Plan for prior to a prize-giving, the author was offered fruit, meetings to fit within these timeframes, and finish to have refused which would have been rude, even by 11:30 a.m. or 4:30 p.m. though it meant keeping the students waiting Allow for the process of interpretation, which will During introductions: shake hands, smile, say “ni halve or may even reduce to a third the effective hao?” (“how are you?”) or, more politely, “nin hao?” discussion time - bearing in mind that most (where “nin” is equivalent to the French “vous”), meetings last no more than one hour, and and hand over a name card with both hands and a sometimes only 30 minutes with very senior and slight bow – whilst at the same time accepting the busy Government officials other person’s name card, also with both hands Arrival Name Cards In China, punctuality is a virtue, and tardiness an In China, visiting or business cards are usually insult. Thus: delegates should arrive on time – called “name cards” (“ming pian”); and their neither late nor early - whilst the hosts assemble exchange forms an important part of meeting and earlier in the meeting room ready to greet the greeting all and sundry delegates, to keep whom waiting is even ruder. Latecomers should apologise profusely in order to Having names cards means you are “somebody”; show that they meant no insult conversely, not having name is interpreted as your not being very important. Similarly, the more name For example: to ensure that the author’s group cards the Chinese receive, the more (foreign) board members arrived “just in time” for meetings people they have met and important they feel or with senior Chinese government officials, his driver are perceived used to estimate journey times by making practice runs in the Beijing traffic Thus, just having name cards is the first step to doing business successfully in China. Collecting On arrival, delegates should be met by the hosts’ them also serves as a simple means of building up representative and accompanied to the meeting a contact database, and to show to taxi drivers on room. Following Chinese custom, the most senior subsequent occasions delegate should enter first, followed by the interpreter and other delegates in rank order. Name cards should be printed on both sides - one This allows the Chinese easily to identify the in English; the other in Chinese, using simplified principal guest delegate and main secondary characters – and include: company name, logo delegates; otherwise, they may mistake whoever and business nature; name, title, permanent does enter first as the principal delegate contact details (postal and e-mail address; and ‘phone and fax numbers); and, if a visitor, local Welcome and Introductions contact point (e.g. mobile phone number) Always have an ample supply of name cards (at The principal host and delegate should introduce least a boxful at any one time); and, to cause a members of their party in same way as in West, in good impression, carry sufficient for the next rank order. Where delegates are of equal level, or meeting in a silver or leather card-holder in informal settings, introductions should be in age order (starting with eldest), in deference to the Chinese respect for their elders; and of women to men: “Miss Xu, I would like you to meet Mr Smith” Chinese seldom hold meetings with foreigners alone; staff members are invariably present. Do not be surprised, therefore, if the Chinese participants out-number your delegation, since superiority of numbers is just one way that the Chinese put foreigners in their place. Not only for this reason will not all the Chinese participants necessarily be introduced: those who are not are usually observers or apprentices, with no active Author’s name card – English side role to play – or covert Party members Page 11 / 3
  • Chinese Puzzles – Business Meetings Structure Meetings between foreign business(wo)men and Chinese officials are not free exchanges but structured dialogues between the principals on both sides. Other delegates act as witnesses, and participate in the conversation only upon their principal’s explicit invitation. To interrupt a speaker is rude For example: when accompanying his group board members on visits to senior Chinese government Author’s name card – Chinese side officials, the author occasionally had to bite his tongue when they inadvertently deviated from the One word of warning: ensure you do not hand on agreed speech, and wait until invited to speak to someone else’s name card that you have just supply the missing or correct information without received causing anyone any loss of face For example: the author carried a leather card- holder with two pockets, one for cards “in”, the Opening Gambit other for cards “out” Chinese meetings begin with small talk. To dive Seating right into the matter in hand is an impolite breach of etiquette. Avoid the temptation of laying all your Important guests are escorted to their seats, with cards on the table at the outset; rather, start with the principal guest being placed in the seat of ice-breakers like general observations or questions honour to the right of the principal host (or facing, if before easing into focus of meeting at a table). Others may sit where they like - though it is customary to sit in descending rank order A common opening gambit for the principal foreign delegate is briefly to: 1. Thank the principal Chinese host for taking time Interpreter Interpreter out from his “undoubtedly” busy schedule 2. Remind him fondly of the last meeting(s) they Guest No 1 Host No 1 and/or their colleagues had, and the positive outcome for both parties 3. Convey greetings from senior colleagues Guest No 2 Host No 2 present at that meeting, but not at this Delegate Delegate 4. Compliment him on the progress that the host department / company / ministry etc. has made Note-Taker Note-Taker since that last meeting, not forgetting to speak favourably of the advancement of China in Door general Simple seating plan for meeting without central table 5. Congratulate him on any personal achievements (e.g. promotion) 6. Outline the purpose of the meeting 7. Mention who the senior colleagues present are, Delegate or Delegate or Note-Taker Note-Taker particularly if the principal host and/or his senior colleagues have met them before Interpreter Host No 2 D Whilst this may seem superficial, even “fawning”, it o should reflect the protocol that the principal Chinese Principal Guest Principal Host o host will be following Guest No 2 Interpreter r Delegate or Delegate or Note-Taker Note-Taker The Chinese principal will not interrupt; and may reply in similar vein, including a lecture on China for the “illiterate” foreigners. However boring or familiar, remember someone has taken the trouble Simple seating plan for meeting with central table to prepare a brief in an attempt to be helpful Page 11 / 4
  • Chinese Puzzles – Business Meetings Smile, and show appreciation by later asking Even worse, is to tell your Chinese hosts what they clarifying questions (to prove that you were need and that you have the solution. Rather, first listening and pretend that it was for the first time) find out what they need and what you could do that would help them and then sell what you have to Exchange offer as the solution. Make your solution their idea In the exchange that follows, the foreign principal Asking and Handling Questions will normally be invited to speak first. This is not just good manners, but – given their preference for Wait until the speaker has finished before asking reacting to others’ ideas, rather than setting the questions, and only seek clarification. Never put agenda themselves - a ploy for the Chinese to gain anyone “on the spot” by asking an unrelated the upper-hand by safely lobbing the ball back into question, which could result in loss of face for the the foreigner’s court and back-footing him Chinese if they do not know the answer. Similarly, The exchange between the two principals may do not introduce a new request, since the Chinese take two forms: either a lengthy and exhaustive do not make “off the cuff” decisions (see above: discourse by the first speaker, followed by an “Preparation”). In either instance, when caught off equally lengthy reply (like a debate); or an guard, the Chinese will defer with a face saving exposition of, and immediate reply to, a number of reason individual points (like a ping-pong match). Both By the same token, never put colleagues on the are acceptable; but remember to declare at the spot; nor admit that you do not know the answer – outset which one you propose to follow say that you will get back For example: the author was invited to explain to For example: after listening to several lengthy representatives of the PBOC and PICC the range simultaneously-translated speeches in Chinese at of insurance competence & training schemes and the Chartered Insurance Institute’s Centenary professional qualifications in the UK – a complex Roadshow in Beijing, co-sponsored by his and, to the uninitiated, possibly confusing subject. employer, the author - sitting on the podium - was After some 15 or 20 minutes of uninterrupted (and asked, without any warning, to respond to the prepared) speaking, he paused for any questions – Chinese speakers. That was one favour he was only to be asked to carry on! later able to call in! Whatever form the exchange takes, you will need a good memory. When speaking, the better Asking Favours and Making Promises prepared you appear - i.e. the less reference to notes - and the more eye contact you can Never put your host “on the spot” by asking for maintain, the more favourable the impression you something that (s)he cannot deliver, or a promise are likely to cause. When replying, the Chinese (s)he cannot keep, which would be a loss of “face”. will expect you to emulate them by remembering Rather, always offer a way out, to preserve his/her and dealing with all the points in the order raised face. Otherwise, in the wake of such a request, The latter (ping-pong) form of exchange is kinder the tone of the meeting will slowly but surely cool to the attention span of all concerned For example: the author once witnessed a foreign Talk at a steady pace; and avoid off-the-cuff businessman, carried away by the hitherto bon- remarks and inappropriate humour, which may not homie of the moment, throw caution to the wind be understood and, hence, embarrass the Chinese and ask a Chinese Departmental Director when his company would be granted a trading licence. The atmosphere subtly changed to become noticeably Sell – Not Tell less friendly: the licence was not in the gift of the Director, which the businessman should have The normal rules of negotiating etiquette and known strategy in China apply By the same token: never make rash promises that Thus, do not commit the cardinal sin at a meeting you cannot keep or have no intention of keeping. of reminding the Chinese hosts what you have Even a light-hearted invitation to look you up next done for them in the past, and/or telling them what time your host is your home country could one day you are going to do for them or want from them in land you with an airfare and hotel bill for a mini- the future - which not only reveals your hand but delegation out the blue! also demonstrates a total disregard for their needs and “face” For example: the author happily managed to avoid this pitfall, but knows of others who did not Page 11 / 5
  • Chinese Puzzles – Business Meetings Taking Notes ¾ Ensure that your interpreter understands the overall key aims and objectives of the meeting, Ensure that your group includes a bi-lingual note- and the importance of a successful outcome taker, with the principal host’s permission, for the (when the interpreter too may bask in the following reasons (apart from keeping a record): reflected glory) ¾ The Chinese party will undoubtedly include a ¾ Ensure that you have someone else in your note-taker, whose detailed minutes could be party, apart from the interpreter, who is bi- so fully circulated that they might come back to lingual (such as the note-taker) in order to embarrass you, aeons later, when quoted by ensure not only that the interpreter does a someone present or not present at the meeting good job but also does not start to converse directly with your counterpart ¾ The Chinese have a habit of asking interminable and multiple questions all in a ¾ Be aware that interpreters often enjoy intimate single long sentence. Being able to call on the relationships with their principals and wield note-taker to prompt you, by breaking the influence in their own right (such as Deng question down into its component parts, is Xiaoping’s): indeed, the young female invaluable interpreter of an elderly Chinese man could also be his mistress ¾ You need someone in your party who can monitor the accuracy and fullness of the For example: the interpreter who acted for the interpretations: otherwise you may never know Mayor of Shanghai at a meeting attended by whether what you said and heard was really the author (see photograph below) not only what the Chinese principal heard and said turned up in London a year later running a training establishment for Chinese managers Interpreter but also subsequently offered the author a paid speaking engagement It is common practice in China to conduct meetings with foreigners through interpreters Body Language Even Chinese who speak foreign languages The Chinese often signal the speaker with nods or employ interpreters, not only as a ploy to gain verbal interjections to show that they understand face-saving thinking time, but also as a status what (s)he is saying. This does not necessarily symbol to enhance their importance. Do not be indicate agreement surprised, therefore, if your Chinese counterpart addresses you in perfect English at the end of the Closure, Gifts and Departure meeting: (s)he may well have studied for an MBA at a Western University (for example: as the author The meeting may come to a close naturally; or experienced, when meeting the Deputy Director of when the principal host decides – for example, by the PBOC, Shanghai). For the same reason, summing up, or making some suitable face-saving never make “sotto voce” comments in your own excuse (e.g. the visitors’ tiredness) language, in case you are overheard & understood Ensure that you: The basic techniques for speaking through an interpreter at a meeting are no different from doing ¾ re-state what was accomplished or agreed at so on other occasions (such as at banquets, press the meeting to avoid any misunderstandings conferences, public lectures or even shopping); ¾ ask for a contact person for future dealings and are enumerated elsewhere in this publication ¾ do not forget to hand over your gifts There are, however, a number of additional To take your leave: shake hands, smile, say “zai considerations in relation to meetings: jian” (“goodbye”, literally “again see”) and bow ¾ Do provide your own interpreter: otherwise, slightly your Chinese counterpart may consider that you are not senior enough to warrant one and, Thereafter, it is common practice for the visitors to therefore, not his/her equal be accompanied to the exit by a member of the host party (possibly the interpreter): contrary to ¾ Always talk to, and maintain eye contact with, Western practice, having brought the meeting to the person whom you are addressing - never an abrupt ending, the Chinese tend to protract the the interpreter - not only out of respect but also farewells because it is the tone, inflection and pace of your voice etc. that is important - not the interpreter’s Page 11 / 6
  • Chinese Puzzles – Business Meetings Dress From the Author’s Photograph Album Westerners are expected to wear western business attire. In hot weather, you may be lucky and invited to take off your jacket and tie Help! After the meeting, “review to improve” for next time For example: the worst gaffe committed by the author was on meeting the Governor of the PBOC Meeting the Mayor of Shanghai (March 1998) at a College prize-giving - when the conversation ran as follows: Commercial Union Assurance Delegation [1] Delegate (with gifts on the table and floor) Governor: Sir Edward Heath was speaking to me [2] Bi-lingual Note-taker the other day about your company [3] Director for China (Author) Author: (feigning surprise) What did he say? [4] Chairman [5] Interpreter (Chief Representative for Shanghai) Governor: (with a straight face) What you told him to say! Mayoral Delegation [6] Interpreter (hidden behind Mayor) Thereafter, he admonished his Chinese colleagues [7] Mayor of Shanghai to instruct him what to say, and how to say it, like a … plus Delegates (out of picture) glove-puppet Post Script This article is based on the author’s experience of 4 arranging and attending two to three day blocks of 5 7 meetings every six weeks for about twelve months 3 6 between his group board members and Chinese 1 2 government ministers and senior officials Bibliography Meeting at Shanghai Finance College (March 1998) Commercial Union Assurance Delegation General Beijing Scene Guidebook, Beijing Scene [1] Bi-lingual Note-taker Publishing, USA, 1997, pp. 82-86 [2] Chief Representative for Shanghai China Business Handbook 2002, China [3] Director for China (Author) Economic Review, Alain Charles [4] Interpreter (PA to Director for China) th Publishing, 5 edition, London, 2002, pp. [5] Chairman 52, 54 College Delegation Culture Shock! China, Kevin Sinclair with [6] Party Secretary rd Iris Wong Po-yee, Kuperard, London, 3 [7] Interpreter edition, 1999, pp. 165-167, 170-173, 181 … plus Delegates Dealing with the Chinese, Scott D Seligman, Management Books 2000, 1997, pp. 51-64, 165 Doing Business in China, Tim Ambler and Morgen Witzel, Routledge, London, 2000, p.29 Encountering the Chinese, Hu Wenzhong & Cornelius L Grove, Intercultural Press, USA, 1991, pp. 21, 30-31, 39-40, 135-137 Living and Working in China, C Hall, How To Books, Plymouth (UK), 1996, p. 122 Living and Working in China, Employment Conditions Abroad Ltd, UK, 1996, pp. 6-7 Welcome to Beijing, Jones Lang Wootton, Beijing, 1997, p. 21 Page 11 / 7
  • The China Syndrome - Climate and Clothing Climate warm during the day but very cold at night. Rain is also heaviest in Summer It is difficult to summarise the Chinese climate s The Western Interior, an arid desert, where because it is so variable over such an extensive Winter is cold, and rain falls evenly throughout territory and complex topography: the year ¾ Climatically, China is dominated by dry and t Inner Mongolia, comprising mountain ranges wet monsoons, causing stark differences of and semi-desert lowlands, with an extreme temperature in: continental climate, where Winter is cold; and Winter, when cold and dry Northern winds Summer is warm, with heavy rain. Strong ¢ from high latitude areas bring bitter cold; winds make the temperatures even colder in and the warmest areas are in the South Winter and Spring and Southwest Summer, when warm and moist (rain- North China ¢ bearing) Southern winds from sea areas at lower latitude bring unbearable heat; and Winter (December to March) can be very cold, dry the coolest spots are in the far Northeast and bereft of sunshine, with temperatures ranging 0 0 ¾ Geographically, China stretches from the from –20 C in Beijing to –40 C further North, frigid zone in the North to the tropical and where you may find the strange sight of sand subtropical zones in the South, with most of dunes covered in snow the country lying in the Northern temperate Summer (May to August) can be very hot, with zone. The Yangtze River, with Shanghai at its 0 temperatures reaching 38 C in Beijing, coinciding mouth, is the official dividing line between the with the rainy season for the city North and South The best weather is in Spring and Autumn, when Thus, there is no one season when the Chinese 0 0 daytime temperatures range from 20 C to 30 C, weather is ideal: even Springtime is but drop a lot at night unpredictable. However, most places are normally quite pleasant in Autumn Annual rainfall varies from 63cms to 70cms Overview China can be divided into seven climatic zones: n North East China, where Winter is very cold and dry due to strong continental winds from the Northern deserts of Siberia and the Mongolian Plateau, and long; and Summer is warm and humid, with much sunshine and unpredictable rainfall, but short o Central China, where Summer is very hot and humid, with occasional cyclones and typhoons Photo: www.chinaetravel.com, 2002 in its coastal regions; and Winter can be bitterly cold. Rainfall is plentiful all year round ________________________________________ Beijing p South China, in the subtropics, where Summer is hot, wet and humid, with heavy rain The best season in Beijing is Autumn (September between April and September (including to early November), when there is little rain, and it typhoons between July and September); and is neither dry nor humid Winter is humid and mild, although January to Winter is cold, with temperatures falling as low as March can be chilly 0 –20 C when the Northern winds cut like a knife q South West China, a mountainous area, through butter where Summer temperatures vary according to For example: natural and artificial lakes remain the altitude; and Winter is mild and wet, with frozen for several weeks, if not months, providing some rain instant rinks for ice-skating, a popular sport. At r The Tibetan Region, a high plateau, with an Dragon Villas, where the author lived, the outdoors arctic climate, where Winter is severe, with roller-skating was filled with water and converted to frequent light snow and frost; and Summer is an instant ice-rink Page C1
  • The China Syndrome - Climate and Clothing ______________________________________________________________________________________ Spring (April to May) is short, dry and dusty; and Central China characterized by a phenomenon known as “yellow wind” or “dirty rain” plaguing the capital: fine dust In the Yangtze River Valley, Summer (April to blown from the Gobi Desert in the Northwest October) is long and humid with high For example: when the author was once caught in temperatures. The cities of Wuhan, Chongqing and a short April shower, his pin-stripe suit became so Nanjing on the Yangtze are China’s three famous speckled with dirt that it resembled a camouflage “furnaces” jacket and had to be dry-cleaned Winter, with temperatures falling well below 00C, Summer (June to August) is hot and sticky, with can be as cold as in Beijing, particularly as there is an average temperature of 260C, accompanied by no heating in public buildings South of the Yangtze high humidity, heavy afternoon thundershowers It can also be wet and miserable at any time apart and mosquitoes in July from Summer. The best weather is probably in Spring and Autumn See below: “Average Maximum and Minimum Temperatures & Rainfall in Beijing” Annual rainfall is about 76 cms The author’s son playing ice-hockey at Dragon Villas Photo: www.chinaguide.org, 2002 (Beijing, Christmas 1997) ________________________________________ Shanghai North-West China The best seasons in Shanghai are Autumn Summer is hot (in excess of 400C), dry and sunny, (October and November), when average 0 0 with scorching daytime temperatures in the desert temperatures are 24 C during the day and 14 C at regions. Turpan, at 150m below sea level, is the night; and Spring (March and April) hottest place in China with temperatures reaching Winter is very cold, with temperatures dropping 0 47 C 0 well below 0 C, a blanket of chilling drizzle and Winter is as severely cold as the rest of Northern occasional snow. January is the coldest month. China (up to -100C), with temperatures in Turpan Be aware that, being officially designated south of not much better the Yangtze, public buildings in Shanghai are not entitled to central-heating Annual rainfall is less than 10cms, for which reason the air is very dry Summer is hot (mid-to-upper 300C) and humid; the hottest months being July and August, when 0 temperatures can reach 40 C. Many buildings are air-conditioned; but outside the humidity is very uncomfortable, unless there is a breeze blowing off the river Annual rainfall is about 120 cms, of which 60% occurs between May and September. During the rainy season (mid-June to early-August), it can rain for days on end, when the damp is very tiresome. Mild typhoons occasionally hit the city See below: “Average Maximum and Minimum Temperatures & Rainfall in Shanghai” Photo: www.chinaetravel.com, 2002 Page C2
  • The China Syndrome - Climate and Clothing ______________________________________________________________________________________ South China slacks and a jacket are adequate for anything short of an official state banquet in the Great Hall of the Summer (July to September) is a season of People typhoons, with temperatures reaching 380C Nevertheless, black-ties and evening gowns may Winter is short (January to March), and not as cold be expected at Embassy balls or the China Club as in the North (Beijing) dinner-dances, for which local tailors can make quite acceptable tuxedos at fairly short The best seasons are Autumn and Spring, when notice daytime temperatures range from 200C to 250C; although it can sometimes be miserably wet and Women should not wear clothes that are cold, with rain or drizzle excessively revealing: plunging necklines, see- through blouses and tank tops, for example, are Annual rainfall is about 76 cms embarrassing to the Chinese. So are hemlines See below: “Average Maximum and Minimum above the knee, and shorts. Use your common Temperatures & Rain in Guangzhou” sense For example: ¾ the author’s driver was embarrassed by Western female passengers climbing in and out of the car wearing Chinese slit-dresses ¾ the author’s scantly-clad daughter-in-law was lewdly ogled by Chinese men ¾ The author was stared at when wearing cycling shorts Modesty applies as much to men’s as women’s clothing – which probably explains why Beijing workmen walk the streets in summer wearing only Photo: www.chinaetravel.com, 2002 a vest (above the waist) rolled up to their armpits, like a bikini-top, in an attempt to maintain decorum ________________________________________ Guangzhou whilst sunbathing Older publications recommend taking as many Guangzhou is a temperate, sub-tropical city, lying clothes as possible, especially business suits, only a few miles south of the Tropic of Cancer. shoes and evening wear; and stocking up in Hong Summers are very hot, typically with daily Kong. However, good-quality Western-style afternoon showers clothing is now readily available in the large Department Stores, in response to the growing Clothing demand of the young fashion-conscious Chinese When it comes to the dress code in China, there Nevertheless, from personal experience (according are few formalities and the Chinese tend to be to the author’s wife): locally-made underwear pragmatic. Foreigners can wear what they like, designed for the waif-like Chinese ladies tends to within reason, as long as they do not offend the be too small for the Western figure Chinese sense of propriety As a general rule in China: For example: the author’s trademark bowtie drew ¾ in winter, wrap up well against the bitter cold, less attention in China than in the UK with several layers of warm clothing under a Be comfortable, but not too relaxed. It is not done, good coat, plus hat, scarf and gloves. Thermal for example, for men to wear shorts to official underwear is a matter of personal choice business meetings although it may be acceptable For example: the author and his family found to do so when visiting a farm or factory. Also, normal underwear quite adequate, when avoid dressing in all-white clothes (such as some supplemented with thick shirts/blouses and safari suits) which are more appropriate to funerals pullovers - not to mention trying to keep them clean! ¾ in summer, wear light and loose-fitting cotton Shirtsleeves are the norm; and the most formal or linen clothes to combat the stifling heat; and you will ever need is a suit. For women, a simple also carry a pacamac and/or folding umbrella dress (with a high neckline, back and sleeves) or (in your briefcase) to fend off the rain Page C3
  • The China Syndrome - Climate and Clothing ______________________________________________________________________________________ From personal experience, however: In practice, many expatriate business families – like the author’s - will be cocooned in heated and air- conditioned houses, offices and cars, especially during the working-week; and only venture outside at weekends, when sight-seeing, dog-walking, playing sport, shopping etc. Banquets Standard banquet attire is a dark, lounge suit and tie for men; and a dress or trouser suit for ladies. The author (left) - Beijing, Winter (January) 1998 There is no need to wear a dinner-jacket, unless specifically requested (for example: as the author In Summer, wear tropical or light-weight clothing, was, at the China Club in Beijing) and take a light-weight pullover or jacket if going outside in the evening. During the day, a pair of Business Meetings sunglasses and a light-weight hat will keep the sun at bay Westerners are expected to wear western business attire. Indeed, Western-styled suits and ties have largely replaced the Mao jacket of yesteryear for senior Chinese officials Dress for the climate: ¾ in winter, bundle up to keep warm: if the meeting room is not heated you can always keep your coat on ¾ in summer, nobody will expect you to wear a jacket and tie. Nevertheless, make no assumptions: it is better to arrive in jacket and tie and be invited to remove them, than to Anoraks and coats, Beijing, Spring (April) 1997 dress down only to find that the Chinese have (Notice the brightly attired girl!) dressed up for the occasion Central China - Shanghai Northern China - Beijing According to one guide book: you will need silk A good winter coat should be sufficient until the long johns and down jackets for winter; an ice end of November; but between December and block for each armpit in summer; and an umbrella March you will need very thick, windproof clothing would not go astray in either of these seasons! and (possibly) thermal underwear. Since the weather is dry, the locally-made padded jackets made of cotton or silk or are very suitable; and can be bought from large Department Stores. Fur hats with fold-down earflaps are readily available at reasonable prices (but ensure the red star has been removed!) For example: for walking the dog, the author used to wear a pullover, padded army camouflage jacket, deerstalker, scarf, gloves and stout boots (see below) nd The author (2 from right) - buttoned-up jackets in Shanghai, Spring (March) 1998 Page C4
  • The China Syndrome - Climate and Clothing ______________________________________________________________________________________ Southern China - Guangzhou Travel China Guide, www.travelchinaguide.com, 2002 Traveller’s History of China, Stephen Haw, Windrush Press, Moreton-in-Marsh (UK), 1995, pp. 22-32 Beijing Beijing, Lonely Planet Publications, rd Australia, 3 edition, 1998, p. 12 Shanghai Shanghai, Lonely Planet Publications, st Australia, 1 edition, 2001, p. 21 Shanghai, An Odyssey Illustrated Guide, nd rd The author’s wife (2 from left) - shirts, slacks &cardigan The Guide Book Co Ltd, Hong Kong, 3 in Guangzhou, Autumn (October) 1997 edition, 1995, pp. 24, 26 Shanghai Rediscovered, Christopher Bibliography Knowles, Lascelles, UK, 1990, pp. 18-20, 27-28 General About China, China E-Travel, www.chinaetravel.com, 2002 Beijing Scene Guidebook, Beijing Scene Tables Travel Guide China Publishing, USA, 1997, p. 83 www.travelchinaguide.com, 2002 China, Atlapedia Online, www.atlapedia.com, 2002 China, Insight Guides, Apa Publications, th 9 edition, Singapore, 2000, pp.61-62, 317, 363-364 China, Lonely Planet Publications, th Australia, 7 edition, 2000, pp. 48-50 China by Rail, Douglas Streatfeild-James, Trailblazer Publications, 1997, pp. 10, 20- 21, 29 China Business Handbook 2002, China Economic Review, Alain Charles th Publishing Ltd, 5 edition, London, 2002, p. 22 China in Brief, China Internet Information Centre, www.chinaguide.org, 2002 Culture Shock! China, Kevin Sinclair with rd Iris Wong Po-yee, Kuperard, London, 3 edition, 1999, pp. 288-289 Dealing with the Chinese, Scott D Seligman, Management Books 2000, 1997, pp. 77-81 Encountering the Chinese, Hu Wenzhong & Cornelius L Grove, Intercultural Press, USA, 1991, pp. 134-135 Living and Working in China, Christina Hall, How To Books, Plymouth (UK), 1996, p. 20 Living and Working in China, Employment Conditions Abroad Limited, UK, 1996, pp. 2, 36 Page C5
  • The China Syndrome - Climate and Clothing ______________________________________________________________________________________ Appendix Average Maximum and Minimum Temperatures and Rainfall in Beijing (North China) Average Data Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Average High (oC) 1/3 3/5 10/12 19/21 26/28 30/32 30/32 29/31 25/27 19/21 9/11 2/4 o Average Low ( C) -10/-8 -8/-6 -2/0 6/8 12/14 17/19 21/23 20/22 13/15 6/8 -2/0 -8/-6 o Maximum ( C) 12 18 28 32 37 40 40 42 33 29 24 19 Minimum (oC) -17 -15 -7 -1 4 9 17 12 2 -2 -12 -14 Rain (mm) <5 5/10 5/10 20/25 35/40 75/80 205/210 180/185 <5 15/20 5/10 <5 Average Maximum and Minimum Temperatures and Rainfall in Shanghai (Central China) Average Data Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Average High (oC) 7/9 8/10 12/14 18/20 23/25 27/29 31/33 31/33 27/29 22/24 16/18 10/12 Average Low (oC) -1/1 0/2 4/6 9/11 14/16 19/21 23/25 23/25 19/21 13/15 8/10 2/4 Rain (mm) 45/50 60/65 80/85 90/95 110/115 160/165 140/145 140/145 <5 55/60 50/55 40/45 Average Maximum and Minimum Temperatures and Rainfall in Guangzhou (South China) Average Data Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec o Average High ( C) 17/19 17/19 20/22 24/26 28/30 30/32 32/34 32/34 31/33 28/30 24/26 20/22 o Average Low ( C) 9/11 10/12 14/16 18/20 22/24 23/25 24/26 24/26 23/25 19/21 14/16 10/12 Rain (mm) 35/40 65/70 95/100 185/190 265/270 270/275 245/250 230/235 170/175 65/70 40/45 25/30 Page C6
  • Chi nese Puzzl es - Co mm uni cat i o ns Caveat M o bi l e Pho nes Whichever communication channel you choose, 8. Mobile phones can be expensive to buy, but cheap don’t forget that “big brother” may be monitoring to run. One option is to purchase a local SIM card you for your existing handset. Alternatively, pre-paid re-chargeable local SIM cards are now available (however: reception may be weak outside major Po st cities) 9. For expatriates who find themselves in a difficult 1. The postal system is the method of written situation which defies their command of Chinese, communications of last resort: fax and e-mail are mobile phones are a lifeline to: infinitely preferable, even for local communications a. interpreters: thankfully, my Chinese PA was prepared to take our mobile phone calls at 2. Using your driver to deliver/collect letters, almost any time of day or night in order – for invitations, packages is the only sure way of example – to explain to: guaranteeing their safety £ a shop assistant or our maid what we wanted £ 3. If you do have to use the post, other than for our driver when/where to take/collect us overseas: b. drivers: when daytime meetings over/under ran, or evening events had no set duration, a. remember that Chinese postal workers do not we and our driver relied on our and his mobile read English phone to ensure a prompt rendez-vous b. ask a Chinese colleague/friend to write the address 10. Some employers (including mine) provide mobile phones for the personal safety of trailing spouses W i red Tel eco mm uni cat i o ns E- m ai l and I nt ernet 4. The telecommunications sector is booming in 11. The advent of e-mail and the internet has posed China, which has now overtaken the USA as the two problem for “fortress China” - how to prevent its world’s largest mobile ‘phone market citizens from: a. being exposed to outside – for which read 5. Wired phones are increasingly reliable, both inside “corrupting” - influences and between major cities, and internationally. b. exposing to outside agencies the truth – Thankfully, major hotels and multi-national whatever that is – about China companies employ English-speaking switchboard operators 12. Consequently, we are aware of individuals and organisations whose e-mail and internet access 6. Local Department stores offer a wide range of has been limited to national networks; and of good-quality handsets, answering machines - internet cafés that have been shut down including the cordless variety - and fax machines. Before purchasing, however, ensure that the instructions are in a language you understand! 13. Nevertheless, we enjoyed unlimited e-mail and internet access 7. Accommodation in most foreign housing compounds, and rooms in most Western style hotels, are equipped with two telephone lines: one Source: Minim Consulting, based on personal experience for voice, the other for fax/data ________________________________________________________________________________________________ Minim Consulting isthe trading partnership of Andrew and Eileen Williamson ”Chinese Puzzles” – Page 15
  • Chi nese Puzzl es – Cost of Li vi ng Beijing New York Im po rt ed versus Lo cal ? Food at home 123 Alcohol & tobacco 116 Domestic supplies 183 1. There is really no need to take anything from the home Personal care 124 country, apart from personal possessions (e.g. Clothing & footwear photographs), since most everyday items are readily Home services 55 100 available, both imported and locally manufactured Utilities 186 Entertainment 113 Transportation 154 2. Buying Chinese (including joint-venture) products and Sports & leisure 157 produce and/or shopping in Chinese (including joint- Total index 130 venture) shops is not only cheaper, but also more fun and closer to the real China experience U.K. Citizen U.S. Citizen Gross Salary of Senior Sales Manager in £36,000 £44,700 3. Most valuable, therefore, is someone (e.g. Chinese friend Home Country or colleague) who knows where to buy what Cost in Home Country of £11,200 11,200 Consumer Goods/Services 30% 25% 4. An alternative source of reasonably priced household Cost in China of same 14,100 13,800 goods and furniture are departing expatriates, who Consumer Goods/Services 40% 30% advertise in the various English-language magazines or on the notice boards in foreign housing compounds and /or supermarkets in Western-style hotels Typical house at “Dragon Villas”, Shunyi, Beijing Typical house at “Greenland Gardens”, Beijing Rental 1998 = US$9,000 per month hard-furnished Rental 1998 = US$12,000 per month unfurnished Purchase 1998 = US$650,000 Purchase 1998 = US$1million Source: The China Business Handbook 2001, p. 46 China Economic Review, February 2000 Comment: Minim Consulting, based on personal experience ________________________________________________________________________________________________ “Chinese Puzzles” – Page 16 Minim Consulting isthe trading partnership of Andrew and Eileen Williamson
  • Chi nese Puzzl es – Cul t ural Di fferences General a. Older staff will expect to earn more than younger staff, even if the former are performing identically or worse in the same 1. Chinese are socialised not to question the social order or a smaller job or try to change it. They are taught to submit willingly b. an expatriate “high flyer” i.e. a foreign and unquestioningly to authority, and that group General Manager who is too young by membership is more important than individuality. The Chinese standards (say, under 50) and actions of individuals reflect not only on themselves, thus not sufficiently experienced in their but also on all of their compatriots in a group eyes, may not be taken seriously by ¤ Chinese colleagues. Indeed, his presence Laobanism - blind obedience to the boss or may be seen as an insult on the part of the laoban - is rife, and manifests itself in many home office, for not having appointed ways – namely: someone of sufficient gravitas - an indication of the importance, or apparent a. is always right, even when obviously lack of it, that the home office attributes to wrong, a disaster when (s)he is a foreigner China and does not understand the Chinese ways c. Even in a WOFE, a 29-year old Chinese accounts clerk may resign if her new b. because infallible, never changes his/her Chinese boss is a couple of months mind, which would be a loss of face younger c. makes and is expected to make all the decisions, the Chinese workers’ means of ¤ Nevertheless, young well-educated Chinese upward delegation staff in a WOFE seem to accept young well-paid d. probably arrives last and leaves first, and expatriate management trainees, probably certainly no-one should leave until (s)he because the latter are transient and not blocking has done so the former’s promotion 2. The Chinese place a real premium on consensus. 6. Confucianism also helps explain Chinese bureaucracy Matters are debated until agreement is reached on a - which is strictly hierarchical, with well-defined ranks course of action. Individual group members are then and privileges. Decision-making is strictly top-down, expected to embrace and act on the group decision personal loyalty is highly valued, cronyism is rampant regardless of their personal views and innovation largely stifled ¤ Nevertheless, careful coaching by a skilled 3. The danwei, or work unit, wields tremendous power Western manager well-versed in modern over the lives of individuals in China. It has a say in empowerment techniques can eventually just about any major decision in their lives. It controls produce a cadre of senior Chinese personnel their work, where they live and where they travel as prepared not only to proffer their own ideas but well as their ration of scarce commodities also to challenge that manager’s and accept that decisions can change for the right reasons e.g. new circumstances or information. The 4. Chinese do not choose their own work units, and alternative is a sure recipe for disaster: some switching among them, although increasingly possible, Chinese staff will happily stand by and watch is still highly restricted. The exception to the rule is their foreign boss make all the mistakes in the joint-venture units, where there is far more mobility book and lose face, whilst at the same time ensuring that they do not lose their face ¤ Other exceptions are Foreign Invested and Wholly Foreign-Owned Enterprises (WOFEs) 7. Face, or mianzi, the regard in which one is held by others or the light in which one appears, is vitally 5. The Confucian system of ethics and morals governs important to the Chinese. Causing someone to lose many of the ways Chinese interact with one another, face, through dressing someone down, failing to treat even today. It emphasises duty, loyalty, filial piety, him or her with respect or insulting someone, results sincerity and respect for age and seniority, deference in a loss of co-operation and often in retaliation. If you to authority and to elders, rank-consciousness, do this, you will also lose the respect of others who modesty, moderation in habits, generosity, and are aware of your transgression avoidance of direct confrontation are all highly-valued ¤ Confucian traits Reviewing and disciplining Chinese staff can be a minefield. To leave Chinese staff in no doubt ¤ One way that respect for age and seniority as to their inadequate performance or manifests itself in the workplace is in the “dead inappropriate behaviour and to gain their men’s shoes” method of promotion i.e. you rise agreement to improve, require not only well- through the ranks to fill the gaps left by the elder honed HR management skills but also a wide workers above you. Bosses are expected to be range of synonyms, in an effort to save their face older than their staff. Experience and, hence, promotion are a function of age not ability – thus: “Chinese Puzzles” – Page 17
  • 8. In China, face cannot only be lost and saved, it can 10. The favours exchanged between two individuals or also be given. Doing something to enhance units are expected to remain in rough balance over a someone’s reputation or prestige, such as praising a period of time. Try not to put a Chinese in the position worker to his or her superior, is an example. Such of being unable to return a favour, and don’t accept actions carry a great deal of weight among Chinese presents or favours unless you are prepared to when they come from foreigners reciprocate ¥ Chinese staff care more about their own face than that of their foreign bosses, and may try to 11. Prying eyes are everywhere in China; local Chinese save face at the latter’s expense are watched, as are foreigners. In foreigners’ apartments and some hotels, service personnel keep tabs on guests. Suspicious goings-on are reported 9. Guanxi, or “connections”, is a quid pro quo ¥ arrangement between people or units that makes the It is said that cars and hotel lifts have ears as Chinese system go. It gains you access to goods and well. Certainly, the movements of foreigners services otherwise difficult to acquire. The currency of within their housing compounds may be noted guanxi is normally favours, not cash. Chinese down by the many guards who patrol such generally expect foreigners to understand guanxi and compounds under the guise of private security behave according to its rules staff but are probably there to spy on them ¥ rather than guarantee their security Guanxi also involves a highly complex system of networking (more properly known as “guanxiwang”), bearing some resemblance to A t t i t ude t o fo rei gners the “old boy / school-tie network” in the UK. For foreign businessmen, it can give access to key market players and government officials. One method is via “a friend of a friend” - for example: 12. The Chinese are generally extremely hospitable and if you wish to meet Mr X, and his right-hand quite pleasant to Westerners. Their view of the West employee has a connection with yours, ask the is often schizophrenic, however: they perceive it as latter for an introduction via that connection. If highly advanced in many ways, but loose in morals at successful, your right-hand employee may also the same time gain face, particularly if (s)he were not senior ¥ enough to have connected with Mr X without In any case, the likelihood is that, by the mere you. This approach is akin to Newton’s Cradle, fact of not being Chinese, you will be considered using contiguous connections to move up the of lower rank. Remember that “China” means chain of influence. However, never forget who it “The Middle Kingdom”: that is, the rest of the was who acquired a connection for you, or rather world revolves round China “lent” that connection to you. To take over another’s connection without further involving the introducer could cause resentment and close 13. Lacking another set of standards, many Chinese more doors than it opens. Thus, if you continue judge Westerners and their behaviour according to to meet a friend of a friend, keep the first friend their own norms. But expectations are low, so informed and appear eternally grateful: displaying some knowledge of Chinese customs earns otherwise the latter could turn that friend against you admiration you ¥ Influence is not always a function of seniority 14. Business relations are constrained by fear of however – for example: corruption. They begin formally. Rank distinctions are important; with those of a higher station you must be a. Knowing the Director General of the careful to be correct in behaviour and not appear Chinese Performing Arts Agency did not presumptuous secure us tickets for the last night of Turandot in the Forbidden City - but knowing someone who knew the carpenter 15. When dealing with lower ranking people, never give who built the stage did! the impression that you think yourself more important than the other person, but don’t be too informal either b. Drivers spend more time with their bosses than many of the staff do, as a result of which it is common practice for employees 16. The Chinese accord foreign businesswomen all the to ask the driver to bend laoban’s ear in respect due to their positions. Spouses of foreign the car or to eavesdrop on in-car businessmen are welcomed by the Chinese at social conversations - so, beware! occasions. A wife is considered to share the rank of c. Junior staff will often ask senior staff to her husband. Chinese spouses seldom show up at sound out the boss on their behalf, rather social occasions in China, however than making a direct approach ________________________________________________________________________________________________ “Chinese Puzzles” – Page 18 Minim Consulting isthe trading partnership of Andrew and Eileen Williamson
  • ¦ China is a model of equal opportunities when it 14. If you are asked to a Chinese home, the visit generally comes to female employees. Many well- includes a meal. If you decline, explain what the educated Chinese wives have as successful conflict is; if you don’t, the Chinese will read your careers as their husbands, and not always in the response as a rebuff same city or even country. Several lone- ¦ spouses may be found in the Chinese Embassy Chinese hospitality at home is second to none, in London and UK companies in China. A particularly amongst the working classes. On trailing spouse is not a Chinese characteristic. two occasions, we were invited to our driver’s As to the child of the marriage: (s)he may be home, and given wonderful home-produce to farmed out to grandparents in a third location eat, washed down with very potent fire-water. Our dilemma was the obvious expense to which the driver’s family went in sharing their limited 12. Chinese are often circumspect about keeping produce and expensive drink with us. To have foreigners at arm’s length, though this is changing. refused would have been an insult; whilst to eat Casual acquaintance does not demand any significant and drink only a little would have been commitment, but friendship implied obligations to the ungrateful. On the advice of my Chinese Chinese personal assistant, therefore, we accepted the ¦ invitation for the mid-morning, telling the driver Beware of the friendship with the sole aim of a that we needed him to take us shopping ticket or passport to the West afterwards - in the hope that our visit would not coincide with a mealtime and thus spare his family any trouble. We should have known 13. The Chinese are puritanical in sexual attitudes; sex better: for, on our arrival, a splendid meal outside marriage is taboo. Foreigners are perceived awaited us, soon accompanied by a bottle of to be extremely permissive in this are. You should not firewater, especially purchased for such an take sexual relationships with Chinese citizens lightly occasion. Poor in worldly goods, some Chinese ¦ may be; but they are rich in love and hospitality Sex outside marriage is illegal, especially if it results in an illegitimate baby - the consequences of which may include: expulsion 15. If you accept, bring a gift with you. Eat to a lot to from the party and job; exclusion from school, show that you are enjoying the food. Counter every housing and health care; and a lifetime of being apology you hear with a compliment. After the meal, a non-person. Western women, whilst not wait a respectable period of time before leaving, but considered attractive by Chinese men, are don’t stay until late at night. Reciprocate the invitation believed to be promiscuous and fair game: if possible drivers may try it on, while the boss is away. By the same token, maids may approach the boss, while the wife is away. International hotel 16. Western dress is growing in popularity in China, but lobbies are full of elderly Western men sporting the Chinese remain uncomfortable with clothing that is trophy Chinese girls on their arms: rather than very revealing. The Chinese are not otherwise be jealous, pity their gullibility. All the girls want particularly sensitive to what foreigners wear, so wear is access to the West what makes you comfortable. Formal dress is never necessary in China Source: Scott D. Seligman, Dealing with the Chinese, pp. 49-50 and pp. 80-81 Comments: Minim Consulting, based on personal experience ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Minim Consulting isthe trading partnership of Andrew and Eileen Williamson “Chinese Puzzles” – Page 19
  • Chi nese Puzzl es - Do gs Choo si ng a do g Why 35 centimetres in height? The only reasons I could think of were: either to protect the monopoly of Pekinese, or to fit into an oven! But seriously: the restriction on height Buying a dog in China was an adventure in itself. Whilst I was also one of choice, and as people looking for a real he- was used to dogs, my wife was not, which gave us our first dog or hound, not a toy, we were in a quandary. Luckily, problem: what sort of dog to buy? The solution, thankfully, my Chinese personal assistant had previously worked for was close at hand, in the shape of the Chinese the China Daily, where she researched and wrote an article government’s list of two dozen officially approved breeds of on keeping dogs - including an official list of approved domestic dogs domestic dogs to which, apart from the printed breeds, had been added, in hand-writing, … “basset hound”. However, just because a particular breed of dog was approved did not Eat i ng dogs necessarily mean it was available in China. Hence our second problem: where to find a basset hound, without During the Mao years, the government had tried to eliminate importing one? domestic dogs in urban areas. The cynics’ immediate reaction may be: “By eating them”, but they would be wrong. True, Chinese do eat dogs; but, according to my S reet ani m al sel l ers t friends, edible dogs, like frogs in France, are specially bred. Indeed, whilst I enjoyed eating food that most Westerners An obvious starting point was the main pet store in Beijing, would find abhorrent – thanks to five years at an English which had featured in the China Daily article and where, boarding school - dog was never on the menu; and I cannot therefore, I was offered a warm welcome, hefty discount, recall meeting anyone who readily owned up to eating dog, and, of course, a wide choice of Pekinese and shitzus. especially the family pooch Bassets, I was politely told, were difficult to come by, but they thought they could find one if we gave them time, which we did. Meanwhile, we showed interest in a shitzu Do g regul at i ons and, in sheer desperation of not finding a basset, were on the verge of buying one when we discovered that it was two In the face of whatever permitted resistance there was to years old, incontinent, and shaking not from excitement but the total ban on urban domestic dogs, the Chinese distemper or rickets. If we had wanted a diseased dog, we government introduced stringent regulations to keep such could have bought any one of the many Pekinese on sale in dogs under strict control. The regulations, when we bought the streets. Some of our friends did so, and lived to regret a dog, were that dogs must be: it, although the dogs did not: they died quite quickly no higher than 35 centimetres at the shoulder § kept indoors (i.e. home or housing compound) and off § the streets between 7 o’clock in the morning and 8 Purchase pri ce o’clock at night § inoculated and registered annually with the Public When all seemed lost, suddenly the phone rang: “I hear you Security Bureau, which issues an identity tag and are looking for a basset hound. I know where there is one”, photocard at the prohibitive cost of some £400 or the caller said and proceeded to give me details of Bismark. U$$600 the first year, and half thereafter In the home of Chinese whispers, word had got around the expatriate doggy community. So it was, a few days later, in insured for third party liability § December 1997, that we found ourselves at the Dog or face execution Breeding Unit of the People’s Liberation Army [PLA] of China at Champing, north of Beijing en route to the Great Wall. Forewarned by the caller that the asking price was Penal t y f or breach o f regul at i o ns the local equivalent of £1000 but might be negotiable, I went armed with US$1000 in cash, and thus entered into a bizarre negotiation, through an interpreter, with a PLA Whilst Chinese nationals may be able to flaunt the soldier taking instructions over the phone from his regulations, foreigners are soft targets for the Public commandant, the leading and perhaps only Chinese canine Security Bureau, living as they may in prescribed housing. veterinary surgeon in China. (In a country where animals Hence, when we moved to within the city boundary, we either work or are eaten, but not kept as pets, most vets are found that the property management company arranged for horse rather than doggy doctors). Perhaps the price asked the Bureau to visit our compound to register residents’ for Bismark, as well as the stringent regulations, explains dogs. Some of our friends living in the countryside, where the lack of popularity of thoroughbred healthy dogs and the the regulations are more flexible, had been allowed to abundance of half-starved flea-ridden mongrels import their alsatians, labradors, dalmatians and similar dogs into China, only to be told later that their dogs were It was at this moment that I realised what the much-vaunted too tall and would have to be re-patriated or destroyed “communism with Chinese characteristics” really meant: unless they complied with the height regulation. Short of “capitalism”! Thus, The PLA negotiator was not lured by the chopping their legs in half, how could the owners comply? offer of a lower price in foreign currency; and only after Thankfully, after much wrangling, a blind eye was turned, much wrangling accepted to split the difference, still but the dogs still remained illegal and, hence, always insisting I pay in Renminbi susceptible to the regulation being enforced ________________________________________________________________________________________________ “Chinese Puzzles” – Page 20
  • Later, when we left China, he was equally willing to take Dog walks Bismark back for free – and, no doubt, sell him on again! In the intervening months, however, we were pleasantly Apart from walking Bismark on the lead along pavements surprised how little we were charged for veterinary services before 7 o’clock in the morning and 8 o’clock in the evening, and kennelling. Looking back, I now realise that the PLA or within the housing compound at any time – in both cases had Bismark’s best interests at heart. The purchase price carrying a poop-scoop to collect and dispose of his ensured that the dog went to owners who were so keen and droppings – there were many country walks over fields, foolish enough to pay that amount of money that they could through woods and across ditches - free of lead and poop- give him a good home where he would be really wanted; scoop – for a hound to enjoy. Our compound boasted a whilst the veterinary bills ensured that he remained healthy. dog’s toilet, but we never found it: Bismark was easily As in everything else in China, charity begins at home. satisfied with the lamp-posts, and managed to strip his Hence, foreigners are fair game - in this instance: exploit favourite one outside our house of most of its paint at the them, but look after the dog base – which says more of the quality of the paint than anything else! Do gs and m ai ds Dogs wi t h Chi nese peo ple and t radesm en Maids quickly realise that for many foreigners it is a On all walks, people were a problem: brought up mainly question of “love me, love my dog”, so that one way to without dogs, the Chinese we met, adults and children, all impress is to cherish the family pooch, however obnoxious seemed to have an inherent fear of them. Some even burst and naughty around the house. Thus, it was very obvious at into fits of hysteria. The same was true of tradesmen, who interview how the older maids would make a fuss of would not enter the house until Bismark had been closeted Bismark quite overtly – they did not bother to be subtle, away. However, once they were the other side of a fence probably thinking all foreigners were stupid. However, it from him, and realised how friendly and relatively harmless was Bismark’s behaviour when we returned home after he he was, the less scared they gradually became had been alone all day with the maid that told us how she really treated him. For some – it takes a while to work through a few maids before finding a good one – that was their saving grace Vet eri nary servi ces and kennel l i ng Fi reworks Each time we took Bismark back to the PLA Dog Breeding Bismark’s friendliness stemmed from his army upbringing, Unit, he was genuinely pleased to see his old friends – on where he was used to being surrounded by soldiers and two and four legs – and had a penchant for men and large dogs. The same was true of fireworks: whilst his women in uniforms, as well as big dogs. When we brought fierce friends were cowering at home, Bismark was happily him back, he was equally happy. Thus, we would have no abroad in the fields, totally non-plussed by the many and hesitation at all in recommending to our friends the PLA regular whiz-bangs going on around him. Unfortunately, Dog Breeding Unit for veterinary attention and kennelling, any dog – or adult for that matter - afraid of fireworks will for which we were charged the grand sum of about £4 or suffer many miserable days on end in China, particularly in US$6 per consultation and day, respectively. They soon the country areas where some people like to toss and swirl became used to my Chinese personal assistant ringing up; fire-works around their heads like demented Dervishes not only to book Bismark into kennels, but also to request a health check and have his nails clipped Obedi ence cl asses Dog f ood The PLA Dog Breeding Unit also offered obedience classes: Food for Bismark was never a problem. Proprietary one for English speakers, another for Chinese speakers. In western tinned meat and dry biscuits were readily available Bismark’s case, he speaking Chinese and we speaking – the latter in large bulk bags at some super-stores. In English, it was a lost cause. Off the lead, however, and restaurants, we often asked for doggy bags to take the left- away from the scrutiny of other dog owners, Bismark was overs home, and never met opposition. I do suspect, the star pupil; and even taught me the Chinese art of taking however, that some waiters thought that we were going to a dog for a walk on a bicycle eat the food, rather than waste it on Bismark. At the kennels, I do not know what the PLA fed him, but Bismark always looked fit and well afterwards Source: Minim Consulting, based on personal experience ________________________________________________________________________________________________ Minim Consulting isthe trading partnership of Andrew and Eileen Williamson “Chinese Puzzles” – Page 21
  • Chinese Puzzles – Gifts Introduction Unsuitable Gifts Once upon a time - according to Chinese legend - On the premise that suitable gifts are all those that a man went to visit a friend, taking a swan as a gift. are not unsuitable, the latter are: On the way, the swan escaped; and the man, in Cameras Cameras have to be declared in trying to catch it, only managed to grab a feather. writing on arrival in China, and may Rather than return home, he continued his journey need to be shown again on departure with the feather. On receiving this unexpected gift, (which would cause problems when his friend was deeply moved by the story and the they had been given away) man’s sincerity Clocks In Chinese, “to give a clock” (“song Thus was born one of the sayings that epitomise zhong”) sounds like “to pay one’s last the Chinese view of gift-giving: “the gift is nothing respects” (“songzhong”) – for which much, but it’s the thought that counts” (“li qing; reason, some Chinese are very ren yi zhong”) superstitious about exchanging clocks as a homonym for attending their Purpose funeral An integral part of the Chinese business scene (at However, not everyone in China home and abroad) is exchanging gifts, which may shares this superstition take the following form: For example: the author received: ¾ a desk-clock from HSBC at the souvenirs mark occasions opening of its new Beijing branch gratuities show esteem or gratitude ¾ a wrist-watch from to discharge obligations the British Chamber payoffs of Commerce in accompany requests for favours China at the banquet (co-sponsored by the Their common purpose is to build “guanxi” (i.e. to author’s employer) to launch the contribute to the on-going process of cementing “Britain in China” campaign relationships), for which reason: giving gifts is not a “one-off”, but should be repeated from time to time ¾ several travel-clocks from flying business class with Air China Thus, observing the correct protocol for gift-giving Nevertheless, clocks are best avoided improves the chances of building “guanxi” Cut Similarly, these too are reminiscent of Conversely: giving the wrong gift to someone you Flowers funerals; and should be avoided have not met before could cause offence Fours Although even numbers are lucky in Bribes China, “four” (“si”) reads like “death” (“si”) in Chinese, and should, there- Gifts should never be given or taken as bribes fore, be avoided To avoid the recipient mistaking your gift for a Electronic Importing too many electronic goods bribe, stress your good intentions or gratitude, not Goods into China might arouse the suspicion the value of the gifts. Thus, when presenting a gift, of the Chinese Customs officials you might say something along the lines of: Excessive According to an old Chinese proverb, “I have been truly overwhelmed by your Value “courtesy demands reciprocity” - extremely valuable help (&/or advice) and meaning, in the context of exchanging most generous hospitality; and would very gifts, that the recipient is similarly much like you to accept this small token of obligated to the giver. Thus, to give my deepest appreciation and heartfelt someone such an expensive gift that thanks” (s)he cannot afford to reciprocate in like manner is cause the recipient a Whilst this might seem so obsequious as to make loss of face Uriah Heap look like an amateur, it follows the Chinese tradition of ceding superiority to others by Money To give money - even for a Chinese praising them and deprecating oneself (which the host’s child - would be at best a crude sceptics might call false flattery & hollow modesty) insult, and at worst misconstrued as an attempt at bribery and corruption Page 22 / 1
  • Chinese Puzzles – Gifts Odd Contrary to Western tradition, odd Individual Gifts Numbers numbers are considered unlucky - for which reason, wedding gifts and birth- In practice, however, it is now common practice, day gifts for the aged are always sent instead of or in addition to a collective gift, to give in pairs, following the old Chinese individual gifts to members of a host organisation, saying that “blessings come in pairs” who are allowed to keep them provided they are of Pears In Chinese, a “pear” is a homophone nominal value of “separation” and should, therefore, The ideal individual gift is tasteful, of modest value be avoided (say, not exceeding RMB 100, equivalent to Tie In the days of the Mao jacket, tie US$10 or £6), useful and small enough to carry Pins & pins, tie slides and cuff links were not without too much trouble Slides appropriate. Today, however, with [See Appendix: “Other Gifts received by the Author”] and senior Chinese officials wearing Cuff Western dress more and more, such Many branded company mementoes fall into this Links gifts are now quite acceptable category, such as: base-ball caps, desk sets, calendars, cigarette cases, cuff-links, diaries, lapel For example: the author received all pins, lighters, mugs, name card holders, of these at various banquets hosted paperweights, pens, pocket calculators, pocket by foreign Insurers to celebrate the knives, tape measures, tie pins/slides, ties and tote opening of their Representative bags Offices For example: White White and black colours denote death and and sorrow and - whilst acceptable ¾ the author commissioned Black as a background colour - should never several hundred locally- be the dominant colour (e.g. all-white made leather-and-brass wrapping paper or ribbon) photo frames (about 12 x 18 cms) with the company logo in English &Chinese, Suitable Gifts and containing a picture (approximately 9 x 13 Goods imported from the home country have cms.) of the company’s prestige value and help win points in the “face” London head office game ¾ the Royal National Theatre’s tour of China with For example: the author’s employer found that “Othello” (sponsored by the author’s employer) crystal (e.g. Waterford) fruit-bowls and vases and was marked by the gift of commemorative porcelain (e.g. Wedgwood) wall-plates were much leather bookmarks appreciated ¾ at the Chartered Insurance Institute’s Although Western objets d’art are acceptable, they Centenary Roadshow in Beijing (co-sponsored may turn out to be expensive white elephants, by the author’s employer), Institute ties and since the Chinese may not appreciate their artistic Lloyd’s of London document cases were gifted merit (not to mention the cost) - and are, therefore, best avoided Individual gifts should correlate to the recipients’ status. It is a good idea, therefore, to have a range of gifts, and in excess of the number of people that Collective Gifts you expect to meet, just in case the Chinese delegation is larger and/or its members more or Foreign delegations are expected to give presents less senior than anticipated. Make sure that more to their Chinese hosts senior individuals receive better gifts than their In theory, the acceptable practice is to present one junior colleagues. Do not to leave anyone out, not large collective gift to the host organisation, rather even the driver: a company brochure is better than than several small gifts to individual members. In nothing this way, not only is the socialist principle of For very senior individuals whom you know well, equality satisfied, but also the risk of personal suitable gifts might reflect their personal interests, corruption (of the recipient) and bribery (by the such as: books (illustrated, or relevant technical giver) avoided texts, dedicated by your CEO), cassettes or CDs, cigarettes, liqueur, perfume, and stamps or coins (mounted) – all from the home country Page 22 / 2
  • Chinese Puzzles – Gifts For example: the author gave a set of company- Gifts should be wrapped, preferable in red paper - branded golf-balls to the Deputy Governor of the or another coloured paper (not white) with a red People’s Bank of China, Shanghai Branch ribbon; and presented with both hands (and slight bow) as a sign of courtesy and respect Unusual Gifts The Chinese often make as many as three obligatory ritual refusal gestures when offered In the author’s experience, the most unusual gift gifts - in keeping with their tradition of public presented: demonstrations of modesty to avoid being accused ¾ to the Chinese was: a pair of spectacles worn of personal material gain. Only if you sense by a theatrical knight given to the Chinese genuine reluctance (e.g. firm and/or more than leadership by the Royal National Theatre when three refusals) should you retract a gift touring China with “Othello” (sponsored by the It is not customary to open gifts in the presence of author’s employer) the giver, since to do so would draw attention to ¾ by the Chinese was: a complete set of invest- the gift and detract from the thought - contrary to ment regulations, in Mandarin, given to the the Chinese view that the thought counts more author’s Deputy CEO by the China Securities than the gift. Thus, individual gifts are always Regulatory Commission opened private – which practice also avoids the embarrassment of having to feign drooling over Reciprocity kitsch. Exceptionally, however, you may ask the Chinese to open your collective gift to them, In the spirit of the Chinese proverb, “courtesy explaining that this is a Western custom demands reciprocity”: Unwanted gifts should be accepted with a smile ¾ beware of extending a light-hearted invitation and thanks: you can always hand them on – the to look you up next time your host is in your Chinese certainly do home country. You might just be taken literally; and one day faced with an airfare and Timing hotel bill for a mini-delegation out the blue! For example: the author knows of at least one Individual gifts may be left at the place settings European businessman to whom this mis- before a banquet begins; whilst the collective gifts fortune befell should be presented publicly and formally at an appropriate moment (e.g. coinciding with a toast) ¾ beware of the expensive gift that precedes a request for a favour – for which reason: if you All gifts should be presented at the end of a receive a gift from someone for whom you meeting: the collective gift first, with much have never done, and do not intend to do, a ceremony and many fine words; then individual favour, decline the gift politely (e.g. citing your gifts, in a more low-key manner company’s policy on accepting gifts; or the airline’s luggage allowance) Tipping ¾ gifts given in return for gifts or favours should In theory, tipping is officially forbidden in socialist roughly correlate with the magnitude of the gift China (where all are equal) as a patronising and or favour received, so as not to cause a loss of exploitative act of a capitalist regime. Selfless face service to the socialist motherland, not cash, ¾ over time, gifts and favours received and given should be sufficient motivation and reward for should be approximately in balance serving customers – which explains why customer ¾ before a banquet, where it is common for both service is at best indifferent, and occasionally sides to exchange gifts, each should let the blatantly rude other know of its gift, to avoid the embarrass- For example: when shopping in a large State- ment of one party coming empty-handed and owned department store, the author was told in no being unable to reciprocate uncertain terms to go elsewhere if he did not like their range of table lamps Etiquette In practice, however, local attitudes may change according to the moment and be at variance with In China, gift-giving is an essential ingredient of government policy. Cash, not the motherland, courteous behaviour, with its own etiquette buys goods. Thus, service staff in many high-class Page 22 / 3
  • Chinese Puzzles – Gifts places frequented by foreigners now explicitly seek Moreover, he would occasionally: tips, with an implicit alternative of poor service ¾ organise a group event (such as a picnic, Should you wish to reward outstanding service: barbecue, ten-pin bowling or karaoke) ¾ DO - consult your Chinese mentor ¾ give individual clothing allowances - act discretely and in private, to and always: avoid putting the recipient in ¾ hand out moon cakes to company & domestic danger of being reported for, staff at the Mid-Autumn Festival &/or accused of, flaunting the rules for personal gain Children - choose something small (not necessarily cash) that can be easily hidden in the recipient’s One way to melt someone’s heart is to take a small pocket gift for their child, and China is no exception ¾ DO NOT - act in front of other people For example: the author’s teenage son received: - give what may seem to you a ¾ playing cards from a colleague, before even paltry amount or amount, but to arriving in China the recipient could represent ¾ an inflatable Santa Claus from the driver, at several days’ wages Christmas For example: on both occasions when the author ¾ a model boat from the maid, on returning to moved house, using the same international school in the UK after the Christmas holiday relocation company, the supervisor was very happy to accept a pot of cash to share amongst Caveat the team-members (from memory: RMB 50 each, equivalent to £4 or US$6) To give a very valuable gift to a powerful individual, As with other gifts, refusing a reward is part of the especially in private, is still highly risky for both the acceptance ritual, which you will be expected to giver and recipient, despite stories to the contrary follow (see above: Etiquette). If necessary, slip the tip into the recipient’s pocket. However, given Helpful Hints government policy, do not persist if the refusal appears genuine, but trust the recipient’s instinct From the author’s personal experience: for the risk involved ¾ Do not engrave a specific gift for a specific For example: when the author bought a bicycle individual, just in case you never actually get to from a large State-owned department store, a meet that person. Rather, engrave a separate mechanic was despatched to his house (over an plaque that can be subsequently attached to hour’s journey) at the weekend to service it. After the gift: otherwise, you cannot give the gift to consulting a Chinese colleague, the author tried to anyone else reward the mechanic first in cash (from memory: RMB 20 or 30, equivalent to £2 or US$3) and then ¾ Keep a record of gifts and favours exchanged with a drink, both of which were firmly and and refused, in order to monitor the balance, genuinely refused avoid repetitions, and discourage bribery and corruption Staff Gratuities Help! To reward staff-members for exceptional service, work-related items or events are acceptable When in doubt, consult your Chinese advisors, for whom - infuriatingly - choosing the right gifts For example: the author used to host a meal for: may be the most important task in planning a ¾ all the staff on the successful conclusion of a delegation, meeting, banquet or similar event major project (such as the office relocation; or each visit by group board members) ¾ individual employees on special occasions (such as passing examinations) Page 22 / 4
  • Chinese Puzzles – Gifts Bibliography General Beijing, Insight Guides, Apa Publications, General Doing Business in China, Tim Ambler and 3rd edition, Hong Kong, 1997, p. 242 Morgen Witzel, Routledge, London, 2000, pp. 105-106 Beijing Scene Guidebook, Beijing Scene Publishing, USA, 1997, p. 83 Encountering the Chinese, Hu Wenzhong & Cornelius L Grove, Intercultural Press, China, Insight Guides, Apa Publications, th USA, 1991, pp. 141-145 9 edition, Singapore, 2000, pp. 378-379 Living and Working in China, Christina China by Rail, Douglas Streatfeild-James, Hall, How To Books, Plymouth (UK), Trailblazer Publications, 1997, p. 22 1996, pp. 142-143 China Business Handbook 2002, China Shanghai Rediscovered, C Knowles, Economic Review, Alain Charles th Lascelles, UK, 1990, pp. 32, 75-76 Publishing, 5 ed., London, 2002, p. 54 Welcome to Beijing, Jones Lang Wootton, Cultural Essentials, chinavista.com, 2002 Beijing, 1997, p. 21 Culture Shock! China, Kevin Sinclair with rd Welcome to China, www.cnto.org, 2002 Iris Wong Po-yee, Kuperard, London, 3 edition, 1999, pp. 176-178 Xenophobe’s Guide to the Chinese, J C rd Yang, Oval Books, 3 edition, 1999, pp. Dealing with the Chinese, Scott D 46-47 Seligman, Management Books 2000, 1997, pp. 47, 103-112, 149-15, 169, 173 Appendix Other Gifts RECEIVED by the Author RECEIVED FROM OCCASION RECEIVED FROM OCCASION Ministry of Delivering Calendar Colleague Lunch at home Foreign Trade seminar on Table cloth Plant for desk Colleague Office move and Economic Human Resource Cooperation Management Conference Attending China-Britain folder and pen investment Key ring Banquet to Business Council with (with logo) conference Foreign celebrate Luggage logo Insurance opening of Coffee service label All colleagues Companies Representative Vase Pocket telescope Offices Book (illustrated) A colleague Opening of new Tea pot Colleague’s wife Framed/mounted HSBC office paper money Tea service Driver EU Embassy Launch of Euro Table cloth Tenth Maid Beijing Finance (hand made) Anniversary Commemorative College Antique sealing Personal Celebration coins and medals wax pot Assistant Jiang Zemin’s Visit to London Stamp album Farewell brother-in-law with mounted Chopsticks China Club, Two colleagues stamps & first (silver) Beijing Wedding day covers Book Personal Anniversary Cloisonné pots Chinese teacher (illustrated) Assistant Commemorative Beijing Finance Banquet for plate College British Chamber British Prime CD of Commerce People’s Minister Insurance Colleague Welcome Commemorative Company medals Coffee table Personal House warming Shanghai Kite Assistant None Finance College Page 22 / 5
  • Chi nese Puzzl es – H eal t h and H ygi ene In t ro duct i o n Fo o d st orage and preparat i o n Your employer should organise and pay for all medical 9. For drinking, use only bottled water or water that has attention: not only are you in China at their behest, but also it is been boiled. Three minutes of a rolling boil will destroy all in their best interests to protect their not inconsiderable germs investment in your posting by keeping you healthy ¨ The management of most foreign housing compounds can arrange for carboys of water to be Befo re yo u go t o Chi na delivered on a regular basis ¨ Some expatriates will only use bottled water for cleaning their teeth 1. See your family or company doctor for a general health check-up 10. Bananas and citrus fruit are safe to eat. All other fruit must be washed with bottled or boiled water and peeled 2. Have an Aids test and a chest X-ray done; and your blood group analysed 11. Salads often carry worms and diseases. It is best not to eat any raw vegetables or salads at all (they are all grown ¨ Whilst the books say that this is a requirement for a visa – as is also the former for a driving licence – be on nightsoil from latrines), especially during the first few aware that some Chinese officials will not accept a months of your stay. Avoid salads in restaurants. At foreign medical certificate, even if translated and home you can prepare salads by washing the vegetables notarised, but insist on further tests locally. This thoroughly in bottled or boiled water and peeling them, explains why many foreign business people prefer but there is still a risk being driven (rather than driving themselves) to exposing themselves to the practices of Chinese state medicine 12. Cook everything thoroughly for at least ten minutes. If this is not possible (e.g. for salads), you can soak fruit or vegetables in a chlorine or iodine solution, which destroys 3. Have all the recommended vaccinations – which may many germs, but is not 100 percent effective include: polio, tuberculosis, tetanus, typhoid, hepatitis A ¨ and B, rabies and Japanese encephalitis We used baby bottle sterilising solution (e.g. Milton) ¨ Your family or company doctor will know where you can find out what are the current recommended 13. Keep three separate areas in your fridge: one for raw vaccinations unwashed produce; one for raw but washed and disinfected produce; and one for cooked food 4. Buy a First Aid kit, additional needles and any medicines that you think necessary; plus an emergency Dental Kit 14. Shellfish tend to live near sewer outfalls and carry diseases. Do not eat them unless you know for sure that they have been cooked in hot water or oil for at least ten ¨ We recommend a First Aid kit especially for travellers to Asia, commonly known as an “Aids Kit”. minutes. In the interest of your health, politely refuse raw In our case, it was supplied by my employer shellfish, however appetising it looks ¨ A favourite way of serving prawns is alive, 5. Take out emergency health insurance (unless your marinated in alcohol. Hopefully comatose - but in employer has already done it for you) our experience occasionally wide awake & “hopping mad” – these are referred to as “drunken prawns” See overleaf (p. 24): Foreign Hospital Fees in Beijing On arri val i n Chi na Eat i ng o ut 6. Find out where the nearest pharmacies, doctors, dentists 15. If you are concerned about the cleanliness of the and hospitals are; and check out how clean they appear crockery, clean them with hot tea and a tissue. The same applies to chopsticks, unless you carry your own 7. Talk to other expatriates about their impressions and ¨ Such precautions are not necessary in Western- experiences of local healthcare. Which doctors, clinics, style hotels or restaurants, or official banquets hospitals do they recommend? 16. When given wooden, disposable chopsticks, ensure that 8. Exchange information about your blood groups, cases of are still joined at the head. After separating them, rub the asthma and allergies with other expatriates tips together, to remove any splinters ________________________________________________________________________________________________ “Chinese Puzzles” – Page 23
  • Prevent ing il l ness S ayi ng heal t hy t 17. Most expatriates, in any country, find that during the first 20. Be aware of the lower hygiene standards at all times, and year of their stay they are ill more often than usual, for act accordingly to protect yourself several reasons: a. The body has not yet become immune to the bugs 21. Eat well: pay even more attention to a health diet than in food, drinking water and the air in the new you would at home environment b. It takes a while to adjust to the new climate 22. Keep physically fit: your body need more strength than c. Settling into a new environment is always stressful, usual to stay healthy and to overcome illness and stress weakens the body‘s power of resistance d. Simple house remedies for curing minor ailments, 23. `Take vitamin supplements always at hand at home, are not available ion the new country, and it takes months to find out about local alternatives 24. Keep all your vaccinations up to date e. Not knowing the healthcare system, the medicines and the language, many people delay in seeing a 25. Take your malaria medication regularly (if you are in a doctor in the foreign country until the illness malaria area) becomes serious f. Expatriate workers try to impress their local colleagues with their strength and stamina and Fees at Fo rei gn Invest m ent H ospi t al s i n Bei j ing ( US ) - 1999 $ return to work too soon after an illness, before they have fully recovered – only to become ill again, more seriously this time 18. In China, the following aspects can put your health at risk: (a) (b) a. Extremely low standards of hygiene in many eating- places, especially in rural areas (c) b. Extremely low standards of hygiene in public toilets (d) c. Low standards of hygiene in many hospitals (e) d. Use of non-disposable equipment e. Problems with blood transfusions (f) f. Specific diseases that are not found in western countries (and some which rarely exist outside China) g. Environmental pollution of all kinds (especially air pollution, caused by rapid industrial development a. General consultation A ft er yo u l eave Chi na b. Follow up consultation c. Paediatric consultation d. Well child care 19. See your family or company doctor for a general health e. Obstetrical / gynaecological specialist check-up f. Prenatal initial visit Source: Christine Hall, Living and Working in China, How to Books, Plymouth (UK) 1996, pp. 128-131, 139-140 China Business Handbook, 1999 Comments: Minim Consulting, based on personal experience ________________________________________________________________________________________________ “Chinese Puzzles” – Page 24 Minim Consulting isthe trading partnership of Andrew and Eileen Williamson
  • Chi nese Puzzl es - M ai ds H o nest y bef o re A bi l i t y Cho o si ng a mai d In China, every time something went missing in the So: how should you choose a good maid and then retain house, the cry would go up: “the ayi has lost so-and-so” her? – ayi being the Chinese word for ‘auntie’ used to address a maid. Apparently, so an acquaintance tells me, maids Personal recommendation by a previous employer, in South Africa used to be similarly blamed. Not even for although essential, is not full-proof since different a split-second did we think that we had mislaid whatever employers have different needs, rules, routines, we could not find. On such occasions, however, we backgrounds etc. Some mistresses are out all day, or were invariably right, since the ayi soon got into the always entertaining in the evenings; whilst others are routine of putting things away where they were more incapable of lifting a finger or stringing two words convenient for her, particularly in the kitchen. It probably together of the local language; and all have differing never occurred to her that we would need, let alone standards. So, it pays, when selecting a maid, to take know how to use, a particular piece of kitchen up references also on the previous employer, especially equipment. This was partly because she thought it was one about to leave the country, for whom giving a infra dig for foreigners to do any domestic work, which glowing reference to a bad maid will have no back-lash was her prerogative – once, she was horrified to find me washing up; and partly because she believed that all It goes without saying that an interview is also essential; foreigners were stupid because, unlike her, they could but again – irrespective of the prospective employer’s not speak Chinese. To overcome this last problem, we interview ability – this is fraught with problems for the used flash cards – prepared by my personal assistant – person who does not command the local language or with such useful phrases in Chinese as “please clean the understand the local culture. Thus, we always asked my windows today” or “please do the ironing tomorrow” Chinese personal assistant to be present during interview. This practice had an added bonus if ever we Some items that the maid mislaid we never found. Did had problems later with the ayi, because my PA was we really did lose them? Or did she take them? We do able to say to her something along the lines of: “You not know, but have our suspicions. If we had to choose remember that, at interview we or you said or asked so- between an honest and a capable maid, we would and-so? Well, things are not working out like that; so always choose the former. All maids start well, but soon what we need to do to correct the situation is … etc.” deteriorate or lapse into bad ways. An honest maid, That, at any rate, was the gist of what she said (to quote however, remains so. the sermon from “Beyond the Fringe”). In the process we sadly discovered that one sure-fire way to motive the It is just a pity that, in our experience, it is difficult to find ayi was to read her the riot act every so often. The an ayi who combines ability and honesty. Sadly some home fax machine came in very useful here: my wife maids have neither ability nor honesty, and they are best would ring my PA and explain the situation; and then my dismissed at once PA would speak to or fax back instructions in Chinese to the maid Trai ni ng m ai ds f ro m scrat ch Discipli ne and di sm i ssal Thus, thinking back over all the maids we have had – in Some employers fine their maids for poor performance, China and elsewhere – it is for their honesty that we put but we never did: punishment may make the employer up with them rather than ability. Training a maid from feel better, but it only tends to hide rather than improve scratch is by far the best way to guarantee satisfaction. poor performance. But, at the end of the day, since It does not always work, however: we did have to sack maids in China are two a penny, there is little point in one maid very quickly, who had undergone an intensive tolerating a poor ayi who can be replaced immediately. induction at the hands of her aunt, a maid broker. That One word of advice: dismiss an ayi instantly, and see experience taught us not to trust recommendations by her off the premises immediately, ensuring she takes relatives none of your possessions. Since she will probably think that you have too many things – by her standards – she may not be adverse to relieving you of some of them ________________________________________________________________________________________________ “Chinese Puzzles” – Page 25
  • Pro bat i o n Chinese people in general, let alone maids in particular, have little sense of private space, due to their up- bringing; whilst it is also rumoured that, when the A period of probation of a few days at minimal wages is mistress is away, the master is fair game – a sort of role essential. Although not long enough for the ayi to mis- reversal from this country two centuries ago! This lack behave – the prospect of full employment is a sufficient of sense for privacy manifests itself in the most motivator to guarantee good behaviour – it should give unexpected ways: one maid was quite surprised and ample opportunity to experience her cooking, ironing, offended when she was asked to wait on a number of cleaning, shopping and language ability. Some maids ladies at a coffee morning, rather than – as she hoped to have very fixed ideas about, for example, what you like do – sit down with them. Another maid was prone to to eat – generally, an exact match with what they are hanging around the bathroom when we were trying to able to cook! Thus some Chinese ayis are only capable use it of brewing peasant dishes that taste awful, reminiscent of the opening scene of Macbeth A living-in maid can also pose problems while the family is away, by which I do not mean just using the master bedroom and en-suite bathroom. The greatest liberty our Chinese maid took, of which we are aware – apart Do g si t t i ng from using the telephone - was bringing in her husband’s dirty clothes, and using our washing-machine and iron in our time to clean and press them The family dog is also a valuable judge of character when it comes to choosing an ayi. Maids quickly realised that for some foreigners – including us - it was a W ages question of “love us, love our dog”, so that one way to impress was to cherish Bismark, however obnoxious and naughty around the house. Thus, it was very obvious at interview how the older maids would make a fuss of The vexed question, of course, is: how much to pay an Bismark quite overtly – they did not bother to be subtle, ayi? To which the simple answer is: the average going probably thinking all foreigners were stupid, as rate that your friends and neighbours are paying. Pay mentioned earlier. However, it was Bismark’s behaviour over the odds, and you will soon lose your friends as when we returned home after he had been alone all day their maids demand a raise; pay a pittance, and the maid with the ayi that told us how she really treated him. For will soon leave – for be assured that maids’ wages are one ayi, that was her redeeming feature, such that we no secret between them. Of course, hours, duties and could go away and happily leave Bismark with her perks – such as food and lodging – come into the overnight equation, but pity does not. Less than one hundred pounds sterling per month for a 35-hour week on top of a two-hour journey each way may seem little by Western standards, but do not be tempted to double or treble it: Li vi ng in o r no t ? many graduate managers in Chinese companies do not even earn that much Which raises the question: should the maid live in or not? Bo nuses and gi ft s When the children were small (not in China), the maid lived-in, because that was more convenient than a constant stream of baby-sitters in a foreign country. On top of the monthly wage, maids expect to receive a However, the price we paid was our privacy, until such bonus and/or gift at the Spring New Year Festival and time as the boys could speak the local language and Autumn Moon Festival, but this should be regarded as a were old enough to entrust to strange baby-sitters. Even reward for good work rather than their right. However, it though maids may have their own quarters and try to be can be very embarrassing to receive a Festival gift from discreet, there is always the danger of your wandering a maid that has cost her more than hers cost you! And, into the kitchen at 4 o’clock in the morning for a glass of while on the subject of gifts: be prepared for her to give water – wearing little or nothing at all – only to bump into your children a present too, and have one ready for hers the maid. In China, therefore, our maids always lived out, but had their own day-room. I hate to think what Other perks you may legitimately consider giving a maid would have happened had they lived in – although some are: a bicycle and television of our friends’ ayis did ________________________________________________________________________________________________ “Chinese Puzzles” – Page 26 Minim Consulting is the trading partnership of Andrew and Eileen Williamson
  • U n i f o rm s H o useho l d securi t y It is also a good idea to provide working clothes, such as The management of many foreigners’ housing a housecoat. These avoid the embarrassment of compounds will also want the maid to register with them, perspiration, cover up the inappropriately immodest as a safety and security precaution. By the same token, summer-wear, and – in the case of the Chinese who therefore, please remember to de-register the maid on have an unusual dress sense – hide the loud and, by her dismissal or your departure, recover her identity Western standards, clashing colours. For formal pass and key, and – if appropriate – change the burglar entertaining (but not in China), we found that a smart alarm code. Otherwise, you may be ripe for a burglary dark dress with a white starched apron made the occasion extra special, and motivated the maid to be on her best behaviour Chi ld m i ndi ng Tim e o ff As to an ayi’s duties: that is down to her employers’ needs. As young parents (not in China), we appreciated help with the children and cooking. Twenty-five years As to days off and holidays: again, follow the local later in China, we were looking for someone to clean, norms. If in doubt, in this as in all aspects, do ask the wash, shop and walk the dog, but not cook or child-mind. local people rather than the foreigners Many parents do rely on their ayis to look after the children, which is fine as long as the ayi really is capable. It also does wonders for the children’s spoken S ci al S curi t y o e Chinese. However, two words of warning. First: remember the Philippine maid in Hong Kong who, when asked by the parents to wash the baby, put it into the washing machine with fatal results. And what about all Finally, the Chinese authorities will expect employers to the stories of negligent nannies that seem to fill the news pay social security for their maids, and the maids at the time of writing? Secondly: from personal themselves to make a small contribution. Beware of experience, beware of young children who treat maids those, therefore, who try to persuade you that this is not as their personal servants, especially in countries (e.g. necessary and/or do not pay their share. Since South America) where maids address children as “you” foreigners live in designated compounds, it is very easy and “little master/ mistress” and are addressed as “thou” for the local government officials to go from dwelling to and by name. Proper respect for maids should be dwelling, enquiring which maids are registered with the shown at all times – after all, it is in their country that we competent authority or not, and checking that they are living comply with the social security requirements FES O C Po st script Maids should be employed through an organisation such One last word of caution: all good things come to an as FESCO, an agency specialising in supplying Chinese end! Thus, on return to the UK, husbands should workers of all types – professional and managerial as not expect their wives to be surrogate maids! well as manual, and not just maids - to foreigners, since these are not allowed to employ Chinese people directly. Thus, all employers should provide a contract of employment to FESCO, including for maids. Indeed, some branches of FESCO will provide a “fill-in-the- Source: Minim Consulting, based on personal experience blanks” pro-forma, stating duties and wages ________________________________________________________________________________________________ Minim Consulting isthe trading partnership of Andrew and Eileen Williamson “Chinese Puzzles” – Page 27
  • The China Syndrome - Maids (Appendix) Page #1
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  • Chi nese Puzzl es – M eet i ng and Greet i ng 1. Names are very important to the Chinese. Establish how 9. Avoid rough physical contact with the Chinese, such as to address someone during your first meeting. Chinese back-slapping or hugging, even in fun. Keep proper are seldom called by their given names, except by close posture and never put your feet up on a table, nor use a relatives or extremely intimate friends body part other than your hands to point to an object or manipulate an object. Use both hands to present a gift or a business card 2. Chinese surnames come first, not last. Call a Chinese person by the surname, together with a title like “Mister” or even “Director” or “Manager” said just before it. You 10. The Chinese are far more comfortable with silence than may also drop the surname altogether and call someone Westerners. What is left unsaid can be as important as by his or her functional title only what is expressed directly, and silence can be a virtue among Chinese. It can also be a sign of politeness, or a ploy to ferret out information 3. Formal welcoming parties are sent to airports by the Chinese to meet important delegations and see them off. The rank of the official greeter depends on the 11. Never force a Chinese to say a direct “no” to you. The importance of the visitor Chinese refuse politely in a number of ways without exactly saying “no”. Among them are to say something is “inconvenient”, “under consideration” or “being discussed” 4. Don’t be surprised to be asked personal questions e.g. how much you earn or why you have not married. If you © By the same token, never say a direct “no” to a are uncomfortable answering such questions, deflect Chinese person, which will make him lose face and them with humour consequently shut the proverbial door in your face to further re-negotiation. Always leave yourself room for further manoeuvre, playing the Chinese at 5. A Chinese may stand a bit too close to you for comfort; their own game they are comfortable with shorter personal distances than are many Westerners. Other Chinese habits that may appear offensive include belching, spitting, littering or 12. When pressed, a Chinese may even tell an abject lie to even passing wind. Though these are considered avoid saying “no”. Often the motive is a laudable one, impolite, you may experience them among less educated however e.g. to spare a guest a loss of face Chinese 13. Do business in China through face-to-face meetings © Chinese - especially those from large and poorly educated families - have little concept if any of whenever possible, for telephone systems are personal space, since it is alien to their home rudimentary and telephone etiquette leaves much to be experience. Thus: maids may try to clean the desired bathroom while you are using it, or join in your coffee morning; and girl-friends accompany © Although the telephone network in and between Western ladies to the toilet! major cities is excellent, you are unlikely to do business over the telephone unless you speak good Chinese - even to arrange a meeting, which should 6. Chinese in rural areas may stare at foreigners. This is not more properly be done between the secretaries of considered impolite, nor is it an expression of hostility all parties concerned, to maintain their status © To some extent, these views are naïve. The less- well educated Chinese still treat foreigners with 14. If you do have to use the phone, be sure to state suspicion as “devils”, and consider them inferior just immediately what organisation you represent and what because they are not Chinese and often cannot the purpose of your call is. Be patient if you are speak the language. Thus: attempts to speak interrogated in some detail about these things before Mandarin in small-town shops may be met with being connected with your party or given the information blatant ridicule you seek 7. Do not touch Chinese of the opposite sex in social 15. Remember that there is no such thing as a truly private situations except for a handshake. Avoid passionate telephone conversation in China, so it’s best not to forms of contact in public even with other foreigners. discuss anything highly personal or private by phone Physical contact among members of the same sex is common in China, however, and generally carries no © It is said that hotel lifts have ears as well sexual overtones 8. Sometimes the Chinese ill laugh at mishaps. This is an Source: Scott D. Seligman, Dealing with the Chinese, pp. 32-33 uncertain reaction to an uncomfortable situation and Comments: Minim Consulting, based on personal experience should not be confused with amusement ________________________________________________________________________________________________ “Chinese Puzzles” – Page 28 Minim Consulting is the trading partnership of Andrew and Eileen Williamson
  • Chi nese Puzzl es - N egot i at i ng Key po in t s Do … 1. Joint ventures, even when all parties appear willing, can 1. Do your homework take up to two years to negotiate 2. Take detailed notes 2. It may be good manners to talk around a subject rather 3. Always be able to walk away from the table than address it directly, though Chinese negotiators are becoming less sensitive and more direct. Look for 4. Remember that final decisions will be made by people opportunities for empathy who are absent 5. Display a high level of commitment 3. Conventional wisdom is never to show anger but always be polite, softly spoken and gentle. Probably right, but we 6. Pad your price have seen, very occasionally, anger used to good effect both between and with Chinese negotiators 7. Check your ego at the door 8. Go through every single detail of the contract 4. Silence is considered a valuable supporting tool 9. Be careful what you say to the media 5. Words and gestures may have hidden meanings and, 10. Be prepared for a lot of backtracking, repetition, ambiguity especially in the early stages, many devices are used to and inevitable misunderstandings test sincerity and commitment 6. Use your opponents’ strengths, jiu-jitsu like, rather than Do n’ t … taking undue advantage of their weaknesses; they will remember and resent it. That may seem a bit gnomic but what we mean is that your arguments should give face 1. Don’t be quick to resolve individual problems as they are brought up by the Chinese side 7. The time component, or pace, of negotiation is actively 2. Don’t concede anything easily, even something that is not managed. For example, they will be conscious of when very important to you you have to leave and of the pressure from the home office to get a deal 3. Don’t reject a Chinese position out of hand 4. Don’t assume there is any such thing as “China plc” 8. Knowing where the exits are. Leaving the other party an exit demonstrates trust and increases the probability of 5. Don’t project a sense of “victory” at a successful good will. If he takes it, then all the better to find out agreement sooner. Leaving oneself an exit is more tricky (shows lack of commitment), not least because the other party 6. Don’t hesitate to cut your losses should have left one for you. That does not mean that he wants you to use it 7. Don’t assume that you counterpart’s decisions are necessarily made for economic reasons alone 8. Don’t ever speak “off the record” Chinese nego t i at i ng t act i cs 9. Don’t show your temper 1. Controlling the location and schedule of the talks 10. Don’t lose patience 2. Exploring vulnerabilities 3. Guilt tripping 4. Instilling shame 5. Playing off competitors against one another 6. Using intermediaries to float ideas and possible positions 7. Feigning anger 8. Revisiting old issues 9. Invoking the law and legal precedents 10. Raising and lowering expectations to suit their purposes “Chinese Puzzles” – Page 29
  • Case st udy Keep calm, even when an intermediary asks you for an Later that day, the scheduled meeting was cancelled for exorbitant favour in exchange for a promise (s)he may not be an apparently totally unconnected reason. On informing able to deliver, as follows: our home office, I was told that the UK third party had already told them that the intermediary had complained of my lack of co-operation - a charge our home office flatly We once received an unsolicited approach from an denied unknown Chinese intermediary, offering to set up a deal with a potential joint-venture partner with whom we not Some 18 months later, I happened to meet by chance a only already enjoyed good and direct relations but also contemporary of mine from school. To cut a long story had a meeting scheduled a few days hence. The short, he had been the UK third party; and, within a few approach was made via a UK third party, known to the minutes of our talking, retracted his view of my Chinese intermediary and us performance - for he had no idea of what the intermediary had asked of me, which shocked him On checking his credentials: • the intermediary explained that he would be present Footnote: at the scheduled meeting with the potential JV partner, whom he knew well, and wished to help us Even if we had conceded, there is no guarantee that better understand her position so that we might we would have been successful. Chequebook reach a mutually beneficial understanding negotiating has reputedly worked occasionally in the • the potential JV partner denied all knowledge of the past (e.g. AIG), but the Chinese are reluctant to bite intermediary’s role the hand that feeds it: in other words, while they can still dangle carrots and receive presents, why hand Reluctantly, we agreed to meet the intermediary, for three over the carrots? As a Beijing University professor reasons - to: once said to me: why should the Chinese use their own money - of which he claimed that they had more • please the UK third party than sufficient - whilst the West is prepared to hand theirs over by the barrowful? • placate the potential JV partner, just in case the intermediary could jeopardise the meeting • save the intermediary’s face by not saying “no” (which might have shut the door to further negotiation) whilst at the same time making it clear that we would only agree to the intermediary attending the scheduled meeting if the potential JV partner also agreed (which, at the time, she had not) At the meeting with the intermediary, in my office, he brought his own interpreter, so I asked my bi-lingual Chinese personal assistant also to attend: not only to even the numbers, but also to check on his interpreter’s performance and to advise me as necessary on protocol. This was to ensure a level playing-field, rather than one in the Chinese intermediary’s favour The preliminaries over, the intermediary claimed that the potential JV partner had three pet projects: a new school, hospital and office block - and that if we were to finance one, she might consider agreeing to a joint venture. However, were another company also to finance one, she would have to choose between us - unless that company were to finance two, in which case there would be no contest I listened, took notes, asked appropriate questions, explained that I could not decide but would refer to my home office, thanked him for the opportunity of “first refusal” for such projects, and promised to let him have an early answer. After he left, my Chinese personal Source: T Ambler and M Witzel, Doing Business in China, p. 122 assistant was visibly shocked, and had no doubt that Scott D. Seligman, Dealing with the Chinese, pp. 127-140 what had just happened was a request for a substantial bribe. We immediately reported to our home office, which Case Study: Minim Consulting, based on personal experience agreed we had acted wholly appropriately ________________________________________________________________________________________________ “Chinese Puzzles” – Page 30 Minim Consulting isthe trading partnership of Andrew and Eileen Williamson
  • Chi nese Puzzl es - Recreat i o n Best o f S anghai h Church and W o rshi p Best Discover the treasures of the Old Town, the International This Protestant Church at 53 Hengshan Lu Walks French Concession, the Bund, & Nanjing Church is also known today by its old name, Donglu Community Church. Built in 1925, it is perhaps the church best know to Best Find that elusive “original” at the Dongtai foreigners. Sunday services are at 7:30 Shopping Lu Antique Market, stock up on cheap and 10 a.m. souvenirs at Yuyuan Bazaar, reinvent your wardrobe at the Huating Market, and ogle Kunshan On Kunshan Lu, this delightful church was the department stores on the Huaihai Lu Protestant re-opened in late 1981. Sunday Services Church are at 7:30 and 9:30 a.m. There is also a Best Marvel at the colonial decadence of the regular evening service Sights Bund, discover cultural treasures at the Shanghai Museum Art Museum, and visit Xujiahui One of Shanghai’s most famous land- the bustling Yuyuan Gardens Cathedral marks, the Roman Catholic Cathedral at (St Ignatius 201 Caoxi Bei Lu was re-opened in Best Stroll amid the early-morning t’ai chi Cathedral) November 1979. There are daily services Parks practitioners at Fuxing and Hongkou Parks at 5:30, 6:15 and 7 a.m. There are five services every Sunday, with start times Best The Jade Buddha Temple is the best, ranging from 4:45 to 9:30 a.m. Temple though the Longhua Temple comes a close second Zhabei This Protestant Church, at 8 Baotong Lu, is Church a 15-minute walk north from the main Best Check out the Bund and Nanjing Lu; take in railway station. It was re-opened in 1982 Views the city from M on the Bund, the top floor of after being closed for 16 years. Services the Jinmao Tower or, for a completely on Sundays are ate 7:30 and 9:30 a.m. different kind of view, the Grand Hyatt’s There is also the occasional evening Atrium Cafe service. Communion is by invitation only, though foreigners are always made Best Relax and take in the waterfront on a welcome by the pastors who look after the Entertainment Huangpu River Cruise, enjoy the tunes of church Shanghai’s musical stalwarts – the jazz band at the Peace Hotel , and treat yourself Mu’en In the summer of 1988, two Protestant to a performance of one of the city’s Church bishops were consecrated here, the first to famous acrobatic troupes be installed in China for over 30 years. Used as a school until 1979, this former Best Take trips to Suzhou and Songjiang Methodist church can be found in Xian Excursions Hong Lu between Juicing Lu & Hankou Lu Taking Unwind with tea at the Mid-Lake Pavilion, a Break or indulge in a massage Whilst foreigners may attend local churches, Chinese are not allowed to attend non-Chinese churches, where entry may be Best Splurge on anything in the Grand Hyatt, subject to producing a foreign passport Splurge brunch at the Portman Ritz-Carlton or post- theatre dinner at M on the Bund S ort p Co m m uni t y Cent res Residents in China’s big cities can now participate in a wide We found that many expatriate housing compounds had a variety of sports. In Shanghai, for example, there are clubs that community centre that might include a bar, restaurant, offer: badminton, basketball, bowling, bungee jumping, cycling, swimming pool, in- and outdoor sports facilities (e.g. squash go-karting, golf, keep-fit, runs, martial arts, paintball, rock and tennis), supermarket, hairdresser, games room etc; whilst climbing, rugby, running, scuba diving, skateboarding, squash, the church we attended was in the theatre of a club complex swimming & tennis The best way to find out more about these and other clubs and activities is to get hold of a copy of a city listings magazine (in Source: Lonely Planet City Guides, Shanghai, p. 95 English), such as included in the Shanghai Star, That’s Odyssey Illustrated Guide to Shanghai, pp. 39 and 42 Shanghai and Shanghai Talk. A number of websites containing Comments: Minim Consulting, based on personal experience much helpful information are listed in the Bibliography (page 37) ________________________________________________________________________________________________ Minim Consulting isthe trading partnership of Andrew and Eileen Williamson ”Chinese Puzzles” – Page 31
  • Chi nese Puzzl es – S pport S rvi ces u e Do ct o rs and Dent i st s Busi ness The main foreign embassies and consulates keep lists of British Chamber Room 1701-1702 English-speaking doctors, dentists and hospitals that of Commerce Westgate Tower accept foreigners 1038 Nanjing Xilu Shanghai Emergency International SOS Assistance/ Tel: (+86) 021-6218-5022 Asia Emergency Assistance Fax: (+86) 021-6218-5066 (AEA) International No. 2606 Shartex Plaza 88 Zunyi Nanlu British Consulate Room 301 Shanghai Shanghai Centre 1376 Nanjing Xilu Tel: (+86) 021-6295-9951 Shanghai Alarm: (+86) 021-6295-0099 Tel: (+86) 021-6279-7650 Fax: (+86) 021-6279-7651 M ai ds British Council 3D Dongyi Building 88-90 Changshu Lu See Page 23: Maids Shanghai Tel: (+86) 021- 6249-3412 Tradesm en Fax: (+86) 021- 6249-3410 Most expatriate housing compounds normally have China-Britain c/o recourse to an ample supply of plumbers, electricians, Business Council British Chamber of Commerce carpenters, gardeners etc. who are reasonably competent and cheap Tel: (+86) 021-6218-5183 One word of warning: many tradesmen are afraid of th dogs Hong Kong & 6 Floor Shanghai 185 Yuanmingyuan Lu Bank Shanghai Tel: (+86) 021-6321-8383 Reuters Tel: (+86) 021-6355-9333 Swiss Bank Corp Tel: (+86) 021-5292-5555 Swiss-China Chamber Tel: (+86) 021- 6532-2736 Winterthur Insurance Tel: (+86) 021-5882-3351 Zurich Insurance Tel: (+86) 021-6279-8686 Xinhua News Agency Tel: (+86) 021-6431-3564 Source: Minim Consulting, based on personal experience ________________________________________________________________________________________________ “Chinese Puzzles” – Page 32 Minim Consulting isthe trading partnership of Andrew and Eileen Williamson
  • Chi nese Puzzl es – Transpo rt Int ernal Travel There is a departure tax of Yn50 at the airport for all domestic flights (Yn90 for international flights). Always remember to take your passport Travelling in China can be a challenge, despite the many recent improvements. Queuing at booking offices can Airlines often ask you to check in two hours before take ages and procedures can often seem illogical. Try departure, but one hour before may be more realistic. to stay calm and be patient – as with everything else in More important is to give yourself time to get through China! Shanghai’s traffic, especially if you are travelling during rush hour Where possible, book tickets through your hotel, office or the China International Travel Service (CITS). This Baggage allowances are 20kg in economy and 30kg in organisation has improved immeasurably, although its first class. You are also allowed 5kg of hand luggage, service can be slow. Book well in advance and then though this is rarely weighed – which may explain why confirm. Make sure you arrive early at your departure few people bother to check in luggage on a domestic point. Two-way air or train tickets within China cannot flight: it is quicker just to lug it on and off the plane always be purchased – the return portion of the journey may have to be bought on arrival at your destination Rai l We relied on my personal assistant to handle all our family travel arrangements - especially air and hotel bookings, including hotel cars from/to the Train seats come in three options (there are no destination airport “classes” in socialist China): hard seat, hard sleeper and soft sleeper. For anything other than a short journey, take the soft sleeper option. An overnight train will A ir involve sharing a four-berth compartment. Restaurant cars used to be less than enticing, but the quality has improved considerably. The safety record of the railway China has many airline companies operating domestic system is good. The toilets, however, leave much to be routes. Safety has become a priority, resulting in a desired marked reduction in the number of crashes. However, it is advisable to stick to the better-known airlines, such as In Shanghai, tickets can be purchased through CITS China Air, as they are more likely to provide an (on Jinling Donglu), travel agents and some hotels (e.g. acceptable level of service. China Eastern, China’s third Longmen Hotel, a short walk to the west of the train largest carrier in terms of fleet, operates out of Shanghai station). At the station, the easiest place to buy tickets is the counter in the soft seat waiting room for current and next-day tickets. Sleepers can be booked up to four We travelled frequently with Air China – both domestically and internationally – and always felt days in advance. Long distance tickets should be very safe. Their Business Class is not of European bought at least 24 hours, if not several days, in advance Standard. With other domestic carriers, we tended to travel First Class, which again did not reach European Business Class standard. However, we S bway / M et ro u did appreciate the separate check-in desks and departure lounges … and some of the gifts were very acceptable! The subway is fast, clean (smoking is banned), cheap and safe, with good directions and information. Shanghai has two airports: Hongqiao (SHA) on the Shanghai has two lines (North-South and East-West), western outskirts; and Pudong (PVG) 30 km to the with more planned; and trains run every 9 minutes (rush South-East. If you have to transfer between the two, hour) or 12 minutes (off-peak). Currently, there are no airport buses and taxis are available, but allow at least bulk-buy savings or travel cards; but, to save queuing, one hour to cross the city you can buy pre-paid tickets. Stations are announced in English as well as Chinese. They do not have toilets Flights may be booked through CITS, local travel agents or airline offices. Your hotel or office should be able to arrange this for you, but possibly not until three days in advance of the flight. Be prepared to pay in cash, since Li ght Rai l way - as everywhere else in China - few travel outlets take credit cards. There are few bargain air-tickets in Shanghai: in general, the cheapest fares are with Air In Shanghai, the Pearl Mass Transit light railway China or China Eastern currently runs North-West-South; with plans for a second line running North-East-South, thus creating a circular loop (due 2004) ________________________________________________________________________________________________ Minim Consulting isthe trading partnership of Andrew and Eileen Williamson “Chinese Puzzles” – Page 33
  • Taxi Geographical restrictions also apply to expatriates. For example, in Shanghai, foreigners are only allowed to drive themselves within the municipality. As for the If you do not have your own transport, the best way to traffic in Shanghai: one guide book describes it as get around any city is by taxi. In Shanghai, taxis are “anarchic” reasonably cheap, hassle-free and – outside rush-hour – easy to flag down. Nevertheless, be prepared for If you do drive, and have an accident, expect to be crowded and chaotic streets that may take a long time to held liable: after all, if - as a foreigner - you had not negotiate, and leave plenty of time for your journeys been driving, then the accident would not have occurred! Beware, therefore, of the young Chinese Bearing in mind that taxi drivers are surprisingly bad at who play “chicken” in the hope that, if you hit them, finding their way around and that very few speak any they can sue you. This happened to a friend, whose English, ensure that you have a Chinese character map employer refused to help him after he had turned and/or your destination, home and office addresses down their offer of a driver. Apocryphal stories also written down in characters. It also helps if you have your abound of foreigners driving straight to the airport own directions, and sit in the front with a map: if you and leaving the country after accidentally running look helpless, you may literally be “taken for a ride”! over Chinese pedestrians Taxis usually charge by distance and time taken, so check that that the driver turns on the meter at the Buses beginning of each trip (although most drivers are surprisingly honest). Always ask for a receipt, showing the fare, taxi and driver details, as well as a number to Some foreign housing compounds provide buses, call in case of problems (e.g. mislaid luggage) especially at the weekends, to local shopping centres. In all honesty, we can say that their drivers are the worst If you find a taxi driver that you particularly like, ask for a we have come across anywhere in the world card. Most drivers have phones, and can be hired for the day Bi cycl es Car H i re China is the country to buy a good quality bicycle at a very reasonable price. Riding it, however, other than off- It is becoming easier to hire a car (with driver) in the road, is another question! bigger cities, where car hire companies are springing up as the number of affluent Chinese with driving licences increases. Indeed, renting cars has become something of a vogue, with many Chinese using them in preference Useful Co nt act Det ai l s to taxis for business purposes We hired a car (with driver) each time a group of Air China Address:600 Huashan Lu, Shanghai senior executives visited China for several days to Tel: (+86) 021-6269-2999 attend multiple meetings – when my own car (with Web: www.airchina.com.cn driver) was insufficient on its own. On such occasions, when punctuality and safety were China Address:200 Yan’an Xilu, Shanghai paramount, this was preferable to using taxis Eastern Tel: (+86) 021-6247-5953 Web: www.cea.online.sh.cn Pri vat e Cars CITS Address:1277 Beijing Xilu, Shanghai Tel: (+86) 021-6289-8899 Web: www.cits.net Most expatriates are provided with a company car; and many (like ourselves) with a driver too, for reasons of personal safety and “hassle-free” convenience, since … China does not recognise international driving licences, Source: Lonely Planet City Guides, Shanghai, pp. 76-94 but requires foreigners to a test, including a physical. The China Business Handbook 2002, pp. 28-29 Moreover, if you cannot read Chinese characters, you Comments: Minim Consulting, based on personal experience will not make much sense of the road signs! ________________________________________________________________________________________________ “Chinese Puzzles” – Page 34 Minim Consulting isthe trading partnership of Andrew and Eileen Williamson
  • Chi nese Puzzl es – W ork Pract i ces Recrui t i ng S af f t d. Favour those who have worked previously for a foreign employer and/or been abroad. My Personal Assistant had to endure being 1. Depending on their legal status, some foreign branded a “traitor” by her previous Chinese employers may not be allowed to employ Chinese employer – a well-known English-language staff directly, but required to hire them through a newspaper, where she was a senior editor; government employment agency (e.g. FESCO). Not whilst another employee had to return to his all offices of such agencies follow standard terms of previous Chinese employer – an equally well- business or even a single practice, so that it is known shipping company. In both cases, they possible for employees of the same foreign company came from relatively privileged families: perhaps in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou to be hired on it was because the latter’s father was an different terms. Wherever possible, when given the ambassador that he felt obliged to “toe the line“ choice, employers should opt to pay employees rather than “pull rank” directly rather than via the agency: in this way, the employees are guaranteed to receive their full wage M anagi ng S af f t 2. You are free to advertise job vacancies other than via government employment agencies, who will only send 4. Pay is often irrational, determined by age and you whom they wish. In this way, you will have a influence but not performance. The best way we wider and freer choice found to rationalise pay structures was to introduce job evaluation and performance appraisal, based on the HAY-MSL methodology. However, this 3. Selecting and recruiting Chinese staff suitable to work approach requires great sensitivity to cultural in a foreign company is a daunting task, especially if differences (see pages 17-19: Cultural Differences) they have never done so before. Thus, the following and cannot be rushed: even my most senior Chinese recommendations are based on having had to build a colleague with a UK MBA could not cope as well as small mainland Chinese workforce from virtually her younger colleagues; whilst reprimanding staff for scratch to work alongside a few UK and Hong Kong poor performance yet still allowing them to “walk tall” colleagues: as if they were the employee of the month severely taxed my interpersonal skills and HR expertise a. Use competence-based selection procedures based on specific job descriptions or role profiles; and do not be afraid to include practical 5. Training staff poses another challenge. In the West, skills tests. In other words: start as you mean to employees are expected not only to apply new go on, by using Western Human Resource learning in the workplace but also to share it with management techniques (but adapted for China) colleagues. In other words, by training one you train from the beginning. This will not only deter the many, which is a cost effective method of staff mere “job seekers” and weed out the development. In China, however, “knowledge is incompetent, but also attract the competent who power” i.e. it serves the advancement of the individual will relish the challenge. In this way did we over colleagues. To share new learning, therefore, retain the interest of a new Chief Representative dilutes that power, which in turn weakens personal whose appointment we could not confirm for advancement … so do not expect your Chinese many months (due to restructuring) protégés, returning from the West with the MBAs you b. Be controversial at interview; and appoint sponsored, to feel obliged to “pay you back” by those who argue with you: China is full of sharing their new-found knowledge with others acquiescent employees, without initiative (see page 17: Cultural Differences – paragraphs 1,6- 8). One reason I chose my Personal Assistant 6. Promotion is another brain-teaser, for the Chinese at was that, after taking her to lunch so that my least. A very senior government official - involved in wife could interview her too, she said that she the restructuring of State Owned Enterprises - once did not like the food. Again, if the Office asked me what he should do with six bright gradates, Manager had not had the confidence to all worthy of promotion, when there was only one challenge me at interview, she might have vacancy available? My answer was simple: assess lacked the courage to report a suspected fraud them all, and promote the most able one on merit to me alone. His question should have been: how to motivate and retain the remaining five? c. Use probing questions, and be prepared to follow lines of enquiry even where you feel uncomfortable. Had we not done so, we might have appointed as a marketer and market researcher an ex-Major from military intelligence who – eventually – confessed that she would resort to unprintable tactics to promote our Source: Minim Consulting, based on personal experience company ________________________________________________________________________________________________ Minim Consulting isthe trading partnership of Andrew and Eileen Williamson “Chinese Puzzles” – Page 35
  • Chinese Puzzles - Bibliography About China China Cultural and Language Briefing China E-Travel, www.chinaetravel.com, 2002 Andrew M. Williamson in: Export Buyers th Guide, 5 edition, 2002 Beijing Scene Guidebook Beijing Scene Publishing, USA, 1997 China Economic Review Alain Charles Publishing Ltd, London, Monthly Beijing Insight Guides, Apa Publications, 3rd edition, China Guides Hong Kong, 1997 Hotel Travel, www.hoteltravel.com, 2002 Beijing China in Brief rd Lonely Planet Publications, Australia, 3 China Internet Information Centre, edition, 1998 www.chinaguide.org, 2002 Beyond the Chinese Face: Insights from China Today Psychology China Today, www.chinatoday.com, 2002 Michael Harris Bond, Oxford University Press China Travel Tips (China), Hong Kong, 1991 Hotel Travel, www.hoteltravel.com, 2002 China Chinese Banquet Atlapedia Online, www.atlapedia.com, 2002 China Online, www.chineseculture.about.com, China 2002 Encarta Encyclopaedia, encarta.msn.co.uk, Country Profile: China 2002 Foreign Office, www.fco.gov.uk, 2002 China th Cultural Essentials Insight Guides, Apa Publications, 9 edition, Singapore, 2000 China Vista, www.chinavista.com, 2002 China Culture Shock! China Lonely Planet Online, www.lonelyplanet.com, Kevin Sinclair with Iris Wong Po-yee, rd 2002 Kuperard, London, 3 edition, 1999 China Dealing with the Chinese Lonely Planet Publications, Australia, 7 th Scott D Seligman, Management Books 2000, edition, 2000 Chalford (UK), 1997 China: A History Doing Business in China Arthur Cotterrell, Pimlico, London, 1995 Tim Ambler and Morgen Witzel, Routledge, London, 2000 China ABC Doing Business in the PRC Chinese Embassy, London, www.chinese-embassy.org.uk Pricewaterhouse Coopers, USA, 1995 China Basics Doing Business with China China Tour, www.chinatour.com, 2002 Kogan Page, UK, 2000 China-Britain Trade Review Encountering the Chinese China-Britain Business Council, London, Hu Wenzhong & Cornelius L Grove, Monthly Intercultural Press, USA, 1991 China by Rail Food Douglas Streatfeild-James, Trailblazer China E-Travel, www.chinaetravel.com, 2002 Publications, Hindhead (UK), 1997 Greater China Property Index China Business Handbook 2002 Jones Lang LaSalle, China, July 2002 China Economic Review, Alain Charles Greater China Residential Market Overview th Publishing Ltd, 5 edition, London, 2002 Colliers Jardine, China, July 2002 Page 37 / 1
  • Chinese Puzzles - Bibliography Guide to Household Moving Transport Crown Worldwide, Beijing, 1998 China E-Travel, www.chinaetravel.com, 2002 Living and Working in China Travel China Guide, Christina Hall, How To Books, Plymouth (UK), www.travelchinaguide.com, 2002 1996 Travel Tips Living and Working in China China National Tourism Association, Employment Conditions Abroad Limited, UK, www.cnta.com, 2002 1996 Travel Tips MetArt China Tour, www.chinatour.com, 2002 Sustainable Development Dept, Food and Travel Tips Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, metart.fao.org, 2002 China Vista, www.chinavista.com, 2002 Old Shanghai Traveller’s History of China Betty Peh-T’I Wei, Oxford University Press, Stephen Haw, Windrush Press, Moreton-in- Hong Kong, 1993 Marsh (UK), 1995 Shanghai Welcome to Beijing st Lonely Planet Publications, Australia, 1 Barrie S Risman, Jones Lang Wootton, edition, 2001 Beijing, 1997 Shanghai Welcome to China Odyssey Illustrated Guide, The Guide Book China National Tourist Office, www.cnto.org, rd Co Ltd, Hong Kong, 3 edition, 1995 2002 Shanghai Rediscovered World Factbook: China Christopher Knowles, Lascelles, UK, 1990 CIA, www.odci.gov/cia, 2002 Survival Facts Xenophobe’s Guide to the Chinese rd China E-Travel, www.chinaetravel.com, 2002 J C Yang, Oval Books, 3 edition, 1997 Page 37 / 2