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Doing Business In China. Not So Bad After All?

Posted in China Business

Those of us who constantly deal with China have a tendency to complain about what it takes to get things done there.  We do that because in our minds, everything should happen pretty much instantaneously.  Certainly my law firm’s clients would prefer that and therefore so would I.

But I read a Wall Street Journal article today that did a great job of putting the difficulties of doing business in China in somewhat stark perspective.  The article is entitled, “Andy Puzder: Of Burgers, Bikinis and ObamaCare” and it is an interview with Andy Puzder of fast-food chain, Carl’s Jr., who explains why Carl’s Jr. will not be expanding in California.  As part of his explanation, he compared the time it takes to open a venue in various places, including Shanghai:

Consider how long it takes for one of his restaurants to get a building permit after signing a lease. It takes 60 days in Texas, 63 in Shanghai, and 125 in Novosibirsk, Russia. In Los Angeles, it’s 285. “I can open up a restaurant faster on Karl Marx Prospect in Siberia than on Carl Karcher Boulevard in California,” he says.

Shanghai isn’t bad.  Not bad at all.

Of course, this 63 day time frame has to be after the foreign company (in this case, Carl’s Jr.) has already established its WFOE in China.

What do you think?

  • PaulR

    After working in China for 12 years, it has been great training for me, for what the USA is turning into under control-freaks, statists and big-government progressives like Obama, Pelosi and Bloomberg. China has its absurd government games and political rituals, and the USA has its own equally ridiculous absurdities due to the American specialities of tort-law and political correctness.

    Of course the problems are not the same, but China taught me great patience and the mind-set necessary to accept and work through a maze of bureaucrats and conflicting regulations, which is useful anywhere.

  • nathan

    Great post as always. China business can drive one mental on the best of days but it’s rarely as bad as it’s made out to be (or else it is, depends what day of the week). I don’t keep track of the days anymore where I spend the morning tearing my hair out over seemingly minor obstacles only to marvel in the afternoon at how smooth everything can run. As PaulR stated elsewhere here in the comments, being here can make a person pretty zen, which is a great quality.

  • BlueApple

    Getting legal approval is just one point.

    When I worked at Shanghai I used to go by public bus to my office.

    One morning workers began to renovate a building opposite to the bus-stop that used to be a wrotten storage room.

    The next morning workers carried shelves into the room.

    One day later, 48h hours after renovation started, a new supermarket was waiting for customer.

    Many things are faster, much much faster than in western countries. The big challenge is: if you are working for a foreign invested company, how to synchronize a slowly moving mother company with a fast running Chinese subsidiary. That’s not an easy job.

  • Jeff Gandy

    Speed of business in China is only one very small part of the problem.