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4 Values for Successful Business Relationships in China

The world is moving its attention eastwards. In 2010, China eclipsed Japan’s place as the world’s second-largest economy[2]. Since then, China has attracted the eyeballs of many investors with its impressive economic and social developments. Despite having a trade war looming in the horizon, the world’s biggest exporter is still touted as the promised land of Asia Pacific, offering exciting prospects and opportunities for industries across the board.

The iconic Chinese metropolis of Shanghai
Source: Unsplash

“When you sell the philosophy, the dream, the vision, the buyer’s decision is not based on traditional metrics.” - Zhe Wei

Everyone wants to do business with China, yet not just anybody can. Despite recent efforts to cut down on administrative red tape[3], it is still challenging for foreign companies to carve out a steady foothold in a market that’s already so aggressive and progressive. In a land where the business relationships are as unique as their culture, the stairwell to success lies in navigating the waters of implicit social etiquette and conduct.

Be ethical

“We stand firm so they can understand that there is no shortcut. There’s a need to work with integrity. It makes all the difference. ” - Berlin

Chinese working culture is unlike any other. They have different limitations, which might lead them to compromise on certain values that you might not agree with. Therefore, it is crucial for both parties to set the groundwork on ethics and principle before proceeding with the deal.

Be committed

“Like any other business or industry, there are always pros and cons. One of the cons with China is the constant to and fro travelling. However, it is a commitment we are willing to make because our work excites us every single day. Passion is one of Afternaut’s core values, it drives us to stay committed.” - Kok Yong

Relationships can’t survive solely on Skype meetings. Physical encounters can do more than strengthening rapport. Back in 2018, Afternaut undertook ZeroOne Tech Fest. The project took them a year to plan. It ended with Kok Yong leading a FormWerkz team of 20 to Shenzhen, to ensure the successful implementation of the festival. The experience allowed the team to watch, learn and adapt the Chinese work better.

Zero One Technology Festival, 2018
Source: http://www.zeroone-tech.com
Zero One Technology Festival, 2018
Source: http://www.zeroone-tech.com

Be meticulous

“To survive in the playing ground, we have to be fast and good. The Chinese speed of innovation is high so we compensate with top quality work.” - Berlin

China coined the term “cheap, good and fast”. When the speed of innovation is so high, quality could often be overlooked. The smallest details are likely to fall between the cracks. That’s when being meticulousness differentiates us.

Be flexible

“We believe that we are an open API and can be plugged in with all other teams and to fulfil a project together.” - Kok Yong

Flexibility is necessary for any partnership. By understanding their behaviour and having the ability to pivot when and where needed, you, your company becomes a better fit to theirs.

Industry challenges are ever-changing, one needs to understand the ins and outs to stay relevant. Globalised yet Asian, Singaporean entities are fortunate enough to bridge the gap between China and the international market. This cross-pollination expertise is an invaluable asset when it comes to understanding and catering to the ever-growing demand of Chinese consumers.

[1] Berlin is a founding partner of Formwerkz design collective. In 2016, inspired by burgeoning digital technologies, Berlin spearheaded Formwerkz’s digital transformation and founded Afternaut.  

[2] Source: https://www.bbc.com/news/business-12427321

[3] Source: http://english.www.gov.cn/premier/news/2019/02/20/content_281476530738018.htm?mc_cid=5d103e9775&mc_eid=05b8cc192e

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