Identifies common practices to be aware of when selling in this market, e.g., whether all sales material need to be in the local language.
Last Published: 7/14/2017
Personal relationships (guanxi in Chinese) in business are critical in China. Guanxi is deeply rooted in Chinese culture and a necessary tool for getting things done. In any business transaction, counterparts will want to know with whom they are dealing before getting involved too deeply. Chinese colleagues and partners are often looking for common ground to build a team that can be trusted. Relationships can sometimes take many months to develop. In order to be successful, American businesses should understand this aspect of the business culture and a embrace a patient approach. Thus, it is important for exporters, importers, and investors to establish and maintain close relationships with their Chinese counterparts and relevant government agencies. It is also important that American exporters encourage strong personal relationships between their Chinese agents or distributors and the buyers and end-users. A web of strong personal relationships can often help ensure expedited governmental procedures and smoother business development in China. This is a cultural difference that American companies should be aware of; personal relationships can be just as important if not more so than legal contracts.

Though Chinese customers welcome U.S.-made products in general, they still prefer to have localized customer support from a manufacturer, such as on-site training, service centers in China, local representatives, and catalogues and manuals in Chinese. While a rapidly growing percentage of the management work-force in first-tier cities speak English, U.S. exporters should understand the limits of English language proficiency in China and do their utmost to see that all materials are user friendly in the Chinese language. Important documents (labels, packaging information, contracts, blue prints, testing protocols, user-guides, etc.) should be printed in Chinese. Being able to communicate in the native language will enhance the relationship between the parties and helps to clarify technical issues, planning issues, logistical issues, and contractual issues. On a similar note, certain modifications must be made to accommodate local tastes, customs, and systems.

U.S. exporters should keep in mind that timely delivery and adequate inventory are crucial to success in the Chinese market. Thus, it is important to consider the capabilities of agents and distributors. Logistics in China have become less arduous in recent years with increased transportation options and continued improvement to highway, air, railway, and port infrastructure. The majority of major international logistics companies are now operating in China, although they face regulatory barriers that limit their ability to provide domestic services
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China Trade Development and Promotion