Foreign Entrepreneurs has a good post up on negotiating in China. I would adjust a little but overall a very good post. Go find it here
Vincent F. Yip, in the blog, mentions that Chinese see negotiation as war. Ah…He further notes Sunzi’s 36 Strategies for war and life which many use in business. He then mentions they are about deception. Let me refer you to Wikipedia for all 36. See them here
Reading them always makes my head spin. Deviousness to this degree…in business. In the 90’s, Chinese businessmen seemingly were all studying these 36 ruses. The whole concept of win-win seemed impossible to get to.
Many people in China still use these 36 devises to do business.
An example: Create something from nothing is a strategy. I quote from Wikipedia- “instead of simply spreading misinformation to draw the enemy’s attention, physical baits are used to increase the enemy’s certainty on the misinformation. These baits must be easily seen by the enemy, to ensure that they draw the enemy’s attention. At the same time, the baits must act as if what they meant to do what they were falsely doing, to avoid drawing the enemy’s suspicion.”
So you can visit a whole factory that is just what you want, and later find out that they do not own the factory. They learned this method and honor people who do this. It is a Chinese method that they feel close to.
I want to mention that not all Chinese businesses see business as win-lose. Seek those businesses that really seek win win. If you must negotiate or do business with a student of the 36 Ruses, then you must have someone on your team who knows them deeply and can help you through. Do not think you can read them and be OK.
Anyone doing business in China should at least be cognizant of 36 good principles to destroy you utterly. However, do your best to avoid doing business with people who see everything as win-lose despite what they say.