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Virginie Felenc

Charlie Fernandez

Kevin Dessagne

Stephan Thoueille

Urbach Julie

Cross Cultural Management


China is unique. Indeed, since Antiquity this country has an historical and cultural
continuity. China has kept its written language and it has never disappeared, like all the
others. China still have its sovereignty attributes in spite of historical and politics events. It
has always been the same, Chinese culture is deeply anchored in its past, but present and
current too.

In the space of 20 years China changed considerably, it had and keeps having a rapid
development. The middle empire that was not so central before tends to become it very
quickly; and today it is one of the world’s economy pivots. China became the world’s factory,
for the production as for the consumption.

However China appears contradictory and multiple, it seems to be rich with immense
reserves but also poor having more than 600 million peasants. These disparities come from it
history, its structure, its tradition and culture...

When China opened its borders in the early eighties it created, and continues creating,
a lot of opportunities for Western companies, in all sectors of industry, commerce and service.

Negotiating in China, indeed, is not an easy process, nor is it easy to achieve the goals
set. However with a good preparation, long-term commitment and dedication to the project,
onecan succeed, only in case that the parameters of the relationship with the Chinese partner
have beenwell established from the beginning.

While the Chinese style of negotiation may seem tough, difficult, incoherent and,
atany rate, always profoundly different from the one used in any Western country, if one
istechnically prepared and knows what to expect, the final results can be rewarding, both in
economicterms and in terms of personal satisfaction.

Chinese’s Traditions and Culture

Cross Cultural Management

China is an ancient country and civilization. This has led to long-standing rules of
conduct in society that are of great interest.

China is known as a state of etiquette and ceremonies. Many proverbs have been
passed down from generation to generation such as 'civility costs nothing' or 'courtesy
demands reciprocity' and so on.

Chinese used to cup one hand in the other before the chest as a salute. This tradition
has a history of more than 2000 years. Now shaking hands is more popular and appropriate on
some formal occasions. The lower like subordinates, students, and attendants often uses
bowing, as to convey respect to the higher level. But at present Chinese youngsters tend to
simply nod as a greeting. To some extent this evolution reflects an increase of modern life.

So physical contact has also rules. When you say hello to a Chinese, a quick handshake is
acceptable from a foreigner. Familiar movements are reserved for the family or true friends.
However, physical contact between two men or two women, for example going hand in
hand, is something natural.

It is common and social practice to introduce the junior to the senior, or the familiar
to the unfamiliar. When you start a talk with a stranger, the topics such as weather, food, or
hobbies may be good choices to break the ice. To a man, a chat about current affairs, sports,
stock market or his job can usually go on smoothly. Similar to Western customs, you should
be cautious to ask a woman private questions. However, relaxing talks about her job or family
life will never put you into danger. She is usually glad to offer you some advice on how to
cook Chinese food or get accustomed to local life. Chinese are said to be implicit, but they are
actually humorous.

Chinese consider gifts as an important part to show courtesy. It is appropriate to give

gifts on occasions such as festival, birthday, wedding, or visiting a patient. If you are invited
to a family party, small gifts like wine, tea, cigarettes, or candies are welcomed. Also fruit,
pastries, and flowers are a safe choice. As to other things, you should pay a little attention to
the cultural differences. Contrary to Westerners, odd numbers are thought to be unfortunate.
So wedding gifts and birthday gifts for the aged are always sent in pairs (“Blessing comes in

For example the number four means death in Chinese so it is avoided. A gift of clock
sounds like attending other's funeral so it is a taboo, too. As connected with death and sorrow,
black and white are also the last in the choice. Giving gifts in public is not correct except for
some souvenirs. Your good intentions or gratitude are more important than the value of the
gifts. If the gift is too luxurious, the receiver may mistake it for a bribe.

By delicacy and prudishness, gifts will not be open in front of the one who is offering
it. Thus, if the present doesn’t suit, there will no be embarrassment in front of the person who
offered it; you will avoid making the person lose his face.

During a conversation, you should speak freely, without indirections but you have to avoid
indiscretion, which could disturb your interlocutor. You should not talk about politics with a

Chinese don’t care talking about weight, age or salary of people. Saying at someone that he
has become larger since the last meeting is not insulting, at the contrary.

Cross Cultural Management

Showing his feelings in public is bad perceived. For Chinese, if you have something
to sort out with somebody you will have to hold yourself and wait to be in a private place
away from the people look and hearing. This isgood between Chinese but also between
Chinese and Westerners.

Losing face is the worst thing that could happen for a Chinese. You should absolutely
avoid making a Chinese lose face because it is very serious. This is why Chinese don’t
express so directly their feelings.

0 When private meetings take place, Chinese allow themselves a reasonable margin of
timetable but this is less the case for business meetings. Haggling is quite widespread in
China, but only in the open markets and stalls. In stores where prices are written, haggling is
not possible. Chinese haggle with pleasure, it is a way for them to know their interlocutor (in
particular foreigners) and inversely.

In lot of touristy places, you have to pay to take pictures, if this is not the case and
that you have not the right to take a picture, you should better respect the rules. If you want to
photograph people, you better ask them to obtain their approval.

Regarding the daily life of Chinese, it appears shocking for the foreigners to see, all
the time, Chinese spitting loudly in the street. If in France the streets are sometimes soiled by
chewing gum, it is frequent in China to see the sidewalk cover up of spit. For Chinese, spit is
perceived as a kind of medical regulation that disencumbers them of harmful secretions. It is
like the fact that Chinese eat very loudly and not making noise while eating is a form of
impoliteness. The noise means that food is good. About spitting, the government wishes more
and more to rectify the situation that appears pejorative and devaluing for the country.
Moreover "good manners" campaign is made by the government, but it doesn’t seem to be

However, the Chinese are welcoming and curious. It is not infrequent for a tourist to be nicely
addressed by people anxious to know about you. The Chinese wants to know what we think
of their country, their civilization and traditions.

In addition, a word badly marked, a physical particularity or the way you are dressed can be a
source of gales of laughter among Chinese. In Occident we don’t openly laugh at somebody
but in China, this behaviour is allowed and normal.

Cross Cultural Management

Negotiating in Chinese companies

Chinese are sensitive with details, for example the number 8 is symbolic of prosperity and the
color red is symbolic of happiness. Even if Chinese’s big cities are westernizing, traditions
tend to stay really strong.
The following points will help succeeding in Asiatic Business and the good manners to have.

 Build your network

From France first, contact Chinese’s specialists to obtain information’s and advices. It is wise
to take a lawyer who could avoid problems. Inform yourself of the economic situation of the
Chinese companies you will work with. When you will be in China, find partners and
intermediaries. Unlike the French, the Chinese have a culture based on indirectness, and when
the business is important, politeness says there has to be a third person.

 Prepare your trip

It is important to know the Chinese culture. It is not rare to make business with ten persons
during a negotiation. Consequently, it is your role to define the attributions of each associate
before beginning the negotiation. The role of the leader is essential because he has a
determined place at the table, during the negotiation or even the meal. If they don’t know who
is the leader they will designate the oldest of the group. Take the time to define the profile of
the associates that you will meet, their age, their origin, their life’s experiences outside
China…All those elements will inform you about how you can approach them more easily,
traditionally or more in an occidental way.

 Create a trusting environment

It is essential to create a relation upon trust and amity. As soon as the negotiation will start,
the Chinese will ask you very personals questions in order to position them: your age, your
salary, family and kids. The interest must be reciprocaland you have to give the interest back.
If they don’t want to answer to your questions, they will smile or answer something else. It is
possible to exchange gifts, without opening yours in front of your associate in case if other
persons have the same one in order to not break the harmony. Chinese offer often food
between themselves. You can also bring them local specialities, which will be the opportunity
to discuss in a less formal way. To finish, don’t hesitate to go out at night with them in
Karaoke restaurants, this will facilitate later the negotiations.

Cross Cultural Management

 Identify the process steps

For the lawyer, it is the same rules that will govern the negotiation in China or in another
country, except that patience and courtesy must be a lot more present. Negotiations are
different whether you are in Beijing or in a small burg. In the first case, it is the communist
way of doing that will prevail; it is weighty and very formal.
We don’t have the same rhythm in France and in China; some efforts have to be done to
synchronize the negotiation’s steps:
- The associate’s discovery (quick In France, long in China)
- Information’s exchanges
- The conclusion (Chinese might go very quickly on this step, unlike us)

In France, first we work together and then we start meeting each other. In China, it is the
contrary. If it seems to us that the Chinese’s negotiations are slow, it is because we don’t
identify well the process and different steps of the negotiation.

 Choose a translator

Most of the Chinese don’t speak English. A translation in Chinese is compulsory at a

negotiation. It is important to have a translator who can translate a message but who doesn’t
give his opinion, which happens quite a lot. He must share the company’s environment. The
best is to have your its own translator, for example a colleague who knows your strategy. To
finish, don’t address yourself to the translator but directly to your Chinese collaborator.

 Don’t make a Chinese loose his face

Don’t angry yourself in front of a Chinese and don’t make them loose face. Knowing their
negotiation techniques will help you to be more patient.
Chinese people will do everything to use time against you. They will propose you something
important at the last minute. Stay calm and if you don’t have the time, propose another
meeting to discuss about it later even if it is in a month. Because if one gets angry, they insist
until they get what they wanted.
Concretely, if Chinese ask you to decrease the price of 20% and that at the fourth refusalyou
get mad, this will appear like a weakness.

 Interpret the yes and the no’s

Chinese don’t like to loose face or make someone loose face that is why theywill never
answer a “no”. You will have to ask the question in a different way or use a third person. If
the answers are the same, they are right. In case of a positive response during a negotiation, it
is better to right it down to keep the approval. “We will think about it” or “we will discuss it
in intern” quite always mean a no.

Cross Cultural Management

 Take care with the contract

The Chinese have a living conception of the contract that the occidentals do not have. In
France, we have a linear vision of the time, in China a cyclic one. So the French contract
decides in advance of what will have to be done later. The Chinese contract decides of what
has to be done today, and the day after will be different. For the French, the important is the
concept and for the Chinese it is the context. In case of a renegotiation, do not hesitate to
come back on the points that had been refused at first time.
The papers must be done in both languages, Chinese and French or English.
To finish, it is important to resist at possible pressures. It is not rare to see in a renegotiation
of a contract a Chinese asking to add some sentences in it.

The Chinese partner negotiates as a team, including an official speaker assisted by some
technical support (engineering, financial and, occasionally, legal).
Despite how it may seem to an inexperienced observer, the Chinese partner is well prepared
and knows exactly each party’s strengths and weaknesses.
In addition, the Chinese are masters in pursuing their objectives with great patience and
methodology. They are in no particular hurry to sign a deal. In fact, they will not enter into a
transaction until they are convinced that they have obtained the best possible deal.

Cross Cultural Management


I) Geography
With a surface of 9, 6 million km2, China comes
third of the countries of the world, after Russia and
Canada, for the extent of its territory. In this
country where the mountains predominate, one
finds also vast desert areas, high plateaus and river
basins. The climate is subtropical in the south and
arid in the North-West, when the East has one
season of monsoons. China is exposed to floods,
dryness, typhoons and earthquakes. The
population of China is approximately 1, 26 billion
inhabitants of which the three quarters live in the
countryside. This population is composed of 56
ethnic groups speaking many different languages.
The Han, who is the most important group,
represent 92 % of the population.

II) 10 good tips

• Ask for a receipt for any money given, including deposits.

• Check that the taxi driver starts the meter before leaving, to avoid that he makes his own

• Your passport is the most important thing that you have in China. It will be often asked to
you. It is also very coveted if it is European or American, beware of pickpockets. You should
always carry on you your visa and important papers, and a local map.

• Bring American dollars with you that you will be able to change anywhere; you will have
more problems with other currencies.

• Always carry on you the address of your hotel written in Chinese, if you get lost you will be
able to show it to the taxi.

• When you get in a taxi, have an idea of the route that he should take or pretend that you’re
looking on a map.

• Ask a friend to write for you in Chinese some dishes which you will be able to order at the
restaurant, there are practically no English menus.

Cross Cultural Management

• The Chinese are easy to make contact with and they are very welcoming. You won’t have
any problems to have good relationship with them. Confucius said: "What a pleasure to
welcome friends coming from a faraway country". Don’t worry about the way you’ll be
welcomed in China, all the more since the Chinese feel the need to exchange with foreigners
since China has opened its doors.

• Do not drink the water from the tap, or you will have to visit many Chinese toilets!

• Ask a Chinese friend to negotiate the prices for you, because as foreigners, the prices are

• • Learn some words from Chinese before coming, which will make your voyage more
pleasant. Hello : "Nin Hao" 您您 – Pleased to meet you : "Xing Hui" 您您

III) Chinese climate

Because of its surface, China offers a wide range of climates going from dry cold to damp

1) North:

In the north of China, winter is very cold and lasts from

December to end of February. In Beijing (Pékin) for instance,
the temperature seldom exceeds 0°C but the weather stays dry
and mostly sunny. Summer lasts usually from the month of
May to august and in Beijing the temperature can reach 40°C
(or even more in the North-West). July and August are the
monsoon months: in the north as in the south, the rains fall
essentially during the summer period.

Spring and autumn are the best periods to visit the north of China because it rains less and
temperatures between 20°C and 30°C are more bearable.

2) Center:

Along the Chang-Jiang (Yangzi), summers are hot, damp and they last long; for that matter
the cities of Wuhan (county-town of Hubei), ChongQing (county-town of ChongQing), and
Nanjing (county-town of Jiangsu) are nicknamed « the three ovens » by the Chinese. The
temperatures there are highest between April and October.

Winters are cold, almost as cold as in Beijing with temperatures going down underneath 0°C.
The weather can be damp and unpleasant all the year round, except for summer. The best
seasons to visit the center of China remain spring and

3) South:

The hot and damp season lasts from April to

September and the Mercury can reach 40°C.That
season is also the one of the rains. Winter which only

Cross Cultural Management

lasts from January to March isn’t as cold as in the north. Spring and autumn are usually
pleasant times to visit the south of China with average temperatures about 23°C, but weather
can manage some surprises (cold and rain).

IV) The MianZi mentality

‘Mianzi' (您您) refers to the « face » in the meaning of appearance, social identity and the way
a person is perceived in society.

There are two underlying meanings:

Lian which is linked to a person’s virtue (a lack of Lian makes that a person can’t have any
function in the community). Mian which refers to one’ personality, his prestige or at least his
reputation, gained thanks to his successes (a lack of Mian brings shame or disgrace on the
family, on the organization the person is associated, and on the person himself). When a
Chinese looses face, he will do a lot to save it again.

The five social Confucian roles still exist in the Chinese collective unconscious, creating a
true mentality respectful of hierarchy : from the leader to the subject, from the father to the
son, from the husband to the wife, from the older brother to the youngest, from the older
friend to the youngest.

V) To be seen…

Forbidden City

Tiananmen Square

Cross Cultural Management

Shanghai The Great Wall of China

Dali Xi’an: the

Terracotta Army

Cross Cultural Management

VI) Yang Liu
Yang Liu is a Chinese artist born in Beijing in 1976. Liu, who’s living since 1990 in
Germany, is actually near from these two different cultures. She created in 2003 an exhibition
called “Differences between Germans in Chinese” which knows currently a great success.

Yang Liu’s pictures are sometimes near from stereotypes but they’re really realistic. Here are
some of them, on the left side (blue) the westerner’s characteristics and on the right side (red)
the Chinese. Take a look at these pictures.

Situation Westerners Chinese


Social’s links

Cross Cultural Management


Waiting line


Cross Cultural Management

Saturday in
the street


In a

Cross Cultural Management



Cross Cultural Management

How to


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Mood and

The boss


Cross Cultural Management


Cross Cultural Management