Almost anywhere you do business in Asia today you are likely to be dealing with Chinese, simply because they control most of the private funds in most Asian countries, including Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines as well as Taiwan and Hong Kong.
If you have tried to deal with the Chinese already you have no doubt come up against the cultural barrier of the ‘Chinese way’—the Chinese way of doing business, the Chinese way of personal relations, the Chinese way of guanxi and so on—a culture so different from western culture that the sheer lack of understanding of it literally creates an impenetrable barrier—a Great Wall.
Well, this book will show you how to get your way with the Chinese by revealing to you the hidden gateways and secret passages through the Great Wall.
Talking about Great Walls, hidden gateways and secret passages is an apt analogy because China was a closed, closely guarded secret from the West for thousands of years and, even though the country itself has opened up, old ways die hard and, for a number of very good reasons, the individual Chinese are still very adept at keeping secrets from their government, their danwei, from each other and especially from westerners.
Of course you will find westerners who know some of the secrets, which they found out by actually visiting China, albeit often through embarrassing, frustrating and frequently expensive mistakes.
You won’t take long to read this book, perhaps on your flight to China, but applying the knowledge you gain will give you an immediate advantage in your dealings with the Chinese, wherever you encounter them.
There are numerous academic books on Chinese culture and elaborate guides to Chinese business practice and this book is not intended to duplicate them. As its name suggests, it is a basic primer to help you understand the elements of the Chinese way of life, the Chinese way of thinking and the Chinese way of behaviour. It is written for those who know virtually nothing about China, but need to know now.
The first hidden gateway to understanding any culture is the realisation that it is the differences in subconscious behaviour that are the real cultural differences, not the differences resulting from decrees and regulations. Example of such subconscious behaviour are hand gestures, facial expressions, spontaneous reactions and responses, often resulting from rituals and social customs of which we are unaware even in ourselves until we come into contact with another culture.
In other words, subconscious behaviour reflects the core of a culture, which is very hard to define and which presents the biggest obstacle to mutual understanding.
Generally, as countries all over the world have become more globally-oriented, understanding their cultures has become more important, specifically, with the increasing awareness of the Asian-Pacific region and the greatly increased potential of the Chinese market due to the ongoing economic boom, the urgency of understanding the Chinese culture has greatly increased.
Everyone has heard about the booming economy in China, but exactly what does it mean in terms of increased opportunities for western companies in marketing, joint ventures, technology exchange, education services and so on? The rapidly growing middle class means that millions more people are able to spend significantly more on the following:
- Education—always a high priority, Chinese parents will spend even more than they can afford on educating their children.
- Comfort—people are no longer satisfied with having enough to eat, they are after a comfortable and cosy family environment, thus starting a boom in interior design and renovation.
- Services—a tendency for people to gain extra time by paying someone else to do domestic work for them.
- Health—expensive nourishments and tonics, which used to be for the privileged classes only, increasingly find their way into ordinary households.
- Beauty—more and more people are willing to pay a lot of money for fashion and designer clothes as well as cosmetics and beauty treatments;
- Leisure and entertainment—dining out, wine drinking culture, travel, books, karaoke, luxury cinemas and music tea-houses.
- Socializing—the current Chinese society sets great store by socializing and the cultivation of a social network, thus encouraging spending on gifts and all sorts of socializing activities.
- Quality—consumers would now rather pay more for better quality and famous brands.
- Insurance—something not even thought of in the past.
- Information technology—mobile phones, smart phones, computers and the internet are regarded as essential for personal and business use.