Business trips and factory visits in China
Out of respect for Chinese culture, Germans should adapt to their stay in the Far East and greet each other as is customary locally. This means greeting each other with a slight bow. This is usually followed by a light handshake. Important: It is important that the handshake is gentle. You should definitely avoid hugging or other physical contact that is too intense. In the order of greeting, it should be noted that the highest-ranking person is greeted first and older people before younger people.
The business lunch
The part most foreign business people dread is the food. After all, there are one or the other difference to European customs. What is definitely well received is when the visitor from Europe is used to using chopsticks. If that doesn’t work at all, it’s better to let it be before you embarrass yourself by clumsily handling the chopsticks.
In addition, when eating, it is important not to refuse any food that is offered. You should at least try them once. Anything else is generally considered impolite in Chinese culture. In addition, you should never get the idea of pulling out your handkerchief at the dining table.
By the way: Small souvenirs, quasi gifts, are also very welcome in China. Specialties from the home country, such as chocolates, are best. Important : Do not give flowers. Flowers are only brought to deaths in China. The same goes for watches.
The basic rule in the Chinese business world is that restraint promises the greatest success. As a rule, the Chinese react allergically to aggressive sales talks and pushy conversations. Arrogance and hubris are also absolute no-gos for the Chinese. In addition, one should avoid using a “ no ” at the negotiating table. The Chinese interpret rejection directly from this and react accordingly. Better: “I’m trying my best” or “this could possibly be difficult”. Direct eye contact, almost eye-to-eye, unsettles many Chinese. That is why one often turns to looking to the side and not looking directly into the eyes of the interlocutor.
Accordingly, modesty is the most important virtue that a German can convey to his Chinese business partner. Down-to-earthness is a very valued character trait in the People’s Republic. Equally well received not only in the Asian business world, but also in general harmony. On the other hand, discussions about the country’s political situation should be avoided at all times during the entire business meeting. In any case, this is bad.
Of course, it is of elementary importance for a successful business trip to China that all official requirements and applications are fulfilled. Otherwise problems can quickly arise. First of all, it is of course mandatory to apply for a visa at the embassy for your stay in China. And you should definitely do this early, as the processing time is between 7 and 10 days (possibly longer). The “M visa” is recommended for business travellers. The corresponding visa must be issued personally or at least through an authorized body, such as the travel agency. Only with the approved visa in hand can you board a plane to the Far East.
Tip: It is of course not mandatory, but it is definitely better received by business partners from the Far East if you translate your presentations and business documents into Chinese. If you don’t speak Chinese at all, at least your name should be printed in two languages (English and German) on the business card. This is definitely well received by the Chinese partners. Speaking of business cards: In China, it is considered good manners to always carry a business card with you – especially for business appointments.
In advance, you should take care of the transport from the airport to the hotel and to the respective business appointments. It is not uncommon for the large distances between the individual provinces within the People’s Republic to be underestimated. The distance from one city to another can sometimes be several thousand kilometers. Therefore, you should check in advance that you choose a suitable airport and what the transfer from here looks like. Whether, for example, the hotel shuttle will be picked up or whether a rental car will be booked. If you are a business traveler and need a taxi on site, you can run into several problems at once: Either there is no taxi available, the taxi driver cannot read the destination address because he does not speak English, or the taxi driver only accepts the national currency (yuan). That is why you should write down your destination in Chinese while you are still in Germany and, if necessary, change money in Germany (at the latest at the airport in China).
Tip: When planning a business trip, you should definitely take into account the national holidays in China. Of course, business appointments are inappropriate on these days. These include in particular the Lantern Festival, the Spring Festival or the Dragon Boat Festival. Another tip: You should first learn the systematics of how Chinese names are structured. This avoids confusion and mistakenly addressing a valued business partner by their first name.
At a Business trip to China Is there anything to watch out for. In principle, however, it is true that you can usually get very far with down-to-earthness, friendliness and discreet restraint and thus already avoid many classic blunders. In any case, it is important to at least partially adapt to Chinese culture and therefore to bow when greeting. The fact that you shouldn’t refuse any food at a business dinner, but should at least try everything, isn’t too much of a hurdle.
You should also know that it is standard to always have a business card with you (preferably bilingual) and to be well-groomed. If you want to arrive particularly well, you can learn a few Chinese phrases before you travel to China in order to impress your counterpart and show that you care about and respect the country.