When we first started this blog, the media was obsessed with “doing business in China stories.” Nearly every week there would be a good first person account from someone recounting what it is/was like to do business in China. I often found those pieces quite helpful as they tended to deal with on the ground specifics and I always feel like I am channelling Ronald Reagan by taking the example of one business and extrapolating it to a massive and diverse country.

For those who like such things, here is a partial list of some of those posts:

Most importantly, we always love it when someone with real on the ground China business (not China law) experience sets forth some of the same China maxims as us.

I am in a writ large mood today because I just read a very helpful doing business in China article, entitled, An Architect’s Guide to Working in China. The article provides ten tips for doing business in China and must of those tips apply to any sort of company seeking to succeed at business in China, particularly any service companies that are doing business with Chinese companies.  Here are my three favorite tips, with my comments in italics.

  • Make sure that your client is able and willing to pay for your work. Insist on being paid up-front, if possible, and never agree to do any unpaid work. A very good tip. If the Chinese company is not willing to pay you a large amount upfront, there is a very good chance you will never get that large amount ever.  
  • Many projects may have, at least initially, more to do with ‘market research’, ‘branding’, ‘image’ or ‘positioning’ and not actual design. In other words, do not let yourself get sucked into giving away so much advice that you essentially do the work for nothing.  
  • Don’t assume that as a Westerner you could somehow override and ignore Chinese planning law, Chinese building regulations or any unwritten Chinese rules and standards, even if they seem entirely unreasonable to you. This applies to whatever business you have in China. China is not going to change its laws for you, no matter how unreasonable you may find them to be. 

All good advice, don’t you think?

I urge you to read the full article.

  • Hi Dan,

    Thanks for the post about my blog. It is true that nothing beats on the ground business experience in China. While the country provides tremendous opportunity to foreigners who want to do business, it is critical to enter into it with an open mind towards local laws and customs.

    Very much enjoy reading the China Law Blog, keep up the good work!

    Adam N. Mayer, Architect
    Author of the China Urban Development Blog