Chinese Culture in Business

China is completely different from the West and so is the Chinese culture in business. Almost everything you normally think will get you in trouble. We have read a popular book on Business Leadership in China and know that will not help many people stay out of trouble in China—it might put them deeper into trouble.

How do you stay out of trouble in China?recruitment china shi group china chinese culture in business

You need a Chinese person.  You need someone in China that can help you navigate the Chinese culture in business. Get that person and everything else can go well from then on. Unfortunately, Western Companies often do not make that first hire,  make it using Western thinking and biases, or otherwise throw the future to chance. Some companies get lucky. This is a sign that China does have good and trustworthy people.

The right people will be transparent with you and patiently help you know how to be successful in this context. The wrong people will leave you in the dark or get you going in wrong directions for their purposes.

Again and again, we come upon companies who got in a mess because they choose the wrong top person or recruiter for their China work. Then they have tons of headaches in China and say China is a bad place. That is not the case. China is a great place to work, but you must focus on getting the right steps done correctly. Get the right first person or organization who can get you more right people and contacts.

Understanding Chinese Culture in Business


Chinese people when properly led or motivated are some of the most diligent people in the world. Children’s books here talk of the peasant scholar staying up till wee hours of the night to study and then working all day under the hot sun to weed his field. This is a hot topic for China that we can make use of when we give them the right leadership.  You may like Cultural Chinese Strengths That We Can Use.


The term Shanghaied came into use in the 1850’s in Shanghai and has now come to mean to be forced to do something by means of fraud. Many companies who come to China without an understanding of the Chinese culture in business can easily get Shanghaied. SHI Group is your in-China guide to keep this from happening to your organization. For more see Getting Shanghaied in the land of Shanghai.


Chinese people value honesty, just differently from  Western cultures. The difference in Chinese culture is the value of honesty is usually a lower value to honoring loyalty to friends. If you miss this critical difference while doing business in China, your business can suffer consequences. You may also like to read Know Your Core Values.


Building close relationships is called guanxi (gwan shee) in China. guanxi is building social or business connections based on mutual benefit or interest. guanxi is a positive and valuable aspect of China’s highly relational culture. However, in  bureaucratic environments, personal connections are often seen as the only way to get things done.  With business, guanxi is a two-way relationship, a “you help me, I help you” type of relationship. Success in China is often credited to “good guanxi” and the obligations are real. guanxi  “obligations” with the wrong people at the wrong time can become an entanglement which is hard to escape. SHI Group knows how to navigate Chinese guanxi to create win-win situations. See also guanxi in Recruiting.

Chinese Confidence

Many Chinese people you meet are great, and it may be hard to tell how deeply the culture has damaged their self esteem. China has along way to go to change family and school dynamics to walk away fromn this problem. It definitely influences the huring situation in China. People habe to pretend more and have to put uo a front more than in other countries without the toiugh base Chinese people have. You may also want to read Why Did China Put a Rover on the Moon?

Really there is more and you can bump around this site or go to the links above to find more or know more deeply. We can succeed here in China. Understanding what we are facing is valuable. Adapting to seek the right help takes us farther.