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Golden Rules of Working in China


Awhile back I was going through some old files on my computer and ran across something that a Chinese friend gave me years and years ago. It is a list of 12 so-called "golden rules" of doing any kind of business in China.

I don’t remember who gave it to me, or where she got it; but I did get a good chuckle out of it and I’m guessing you will too.

I’ve also been involved in enough negotiations in China to appreciate the ring of truth to them!

  1. Everything is possible.
  2. Nothing is easy.
  3. Western business logic does not apply.
  4. It is a fun project if there is no deadline.
  5. You must persist—things will come your way eventually.
  6. Patience is the essence of success.
  7. “You don’t know China” means they disagree.
  8. “New regulation” means they found a new way of avoiding something.
  9. “Internal regulation” means they are mad at you.
  10. “Basically no problem” means BIG problem.
  11. When you are optimistic, think about rule #2.
  12. When you are pessimistic, think about rule #1.

Raise your hand if you’ve been hit with the dreaded “there’s a new regulation.”

Image credit: by Wendy, via Flickr

Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman is senior vice president of ChinaSource and editor of ZGBriefs. Prior to joining ChinaSource, Joann spent 28 years working in China, as an English teacher, language student, program director, and cross-cultural trainer for organizations and businesses engaged in China. She has also taught Chinese at the University... View Full Bio