Relationships are key
It must be remembered that, only 30 years ago, China didn’t have a legal system (the oldest law firm in China, King & Wood, is only 23 years old!) and I often ask my clients to imagine a business environment where you are unable to rely on the rule of law and the courts to resolve disputes between different parties. China managed for hundreds of years without a legal system largely because of the focus on trusted relationships and networks (often referred to in Chinese as “guanxi”) which allowed old friends, families, villages and tribes to do business together knowing that maintaining relationships, “face” and trust was more important and valuable than doing a deal.
Unfortunately, westerners don’t often appreciate the time and investment required to achieve this, and baulk at the suggestion that they might go out of their way to pick their Chinese visitors up from the airport or buy them a dinner. The western world has become so litigious, transactional and time poor that even some of the most simple common courtesies have been abandoned in chasing the dollar! It wasn’t always this way but the reality now is that you don’t even have to like someone to negotiate a business deal, as long as you’re supported by a watertight contract prepared by a hotshot lawyer who can take the other side to court if they default or mess you around.
Be the first to read new articles.
Get on the inside track...
Follow us on your favourite social networks