Iaian McGregor wrote this article in a recent issue of the Shanghai Daily, in April of 2007. He explains the evolution of Chinese business and negotiating, and the relative inexperience which Chinese business men have. He urges foreign companies and investors not to get frustrated with Chinese workers.
Business in China, when you boil it all down, is like business everywhere else.
So what causes the angst? Why the argy-bargy between foreign and Chinese sides in the run-up to the deal?
When foreign businessmen began to return to China following the launch of Deng Xiaoping's open-door policy, they confronted a very difficult business environment, and a very different one from today.
China had suffered the excesses of the "cultural revolution" and lost many of its most capable citizens. Its legal and business framework was in tatters, and the ability of the state, in all its aspects, was severely depleted.
Into this environment strode enthusiastic businessmen, only to find themselves beached in interminable negotiations with people who seemed not to understand one whit of what they were trying to do.
To negotiate a single clause in a contract took months in those years. China was not being difficult or intractable.
It was being prudent. Ten years of wanton destruction had taken its toll; the comeback would be slow.
Today, a contract in China can be negotiated in a single sitting. The debate focuses around specific commercial variables such as price, delivery dates, or quantities.
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