China was not on my radar ten years ago in 2003.
In November of that year, 2003, I went to Beijing and Shanghai for the very first time. What an eye-opening experience! At the time, both cities were in their peak early millennium years. With doors to foreigners China put out the welcome mat to Western business people. The average annual Chinese income started to inch closer to $2,000US. Cities were being built faster than ever before on Earth and the migration of rural Chinese to urban dwellers was averaging 10+ million per year.
Companies from all over the world, (not just multinational outsourcers) were looking to tap into China’s vast evolving consumer population and vibrant new economy. China’s appetite for natural resources started to match its appetite for manufactured goods and it appeared that their was real desire to collaborate with Western know-how in every possible business sector.
Between 2003 – 2009 I made 28 trips to the Eastern Seaboard cities, always Beijing and Shanghai but others locales included satellite cities Hangzhou, Suzhou, as well as the Eastern seaboard cities Qingdao, Tianjin and Shenzhen.
All of these inbound trips were to explore emerging business opportunities in four primary sectors, bio/ health/medical, energy and eco/clean-tech, information/communications/technology (ICT) and innovative niche manufacturing in the broadest sense.
My specific expertise was in working with inbound delegations in some aspect of the media or technology sector, including film and TV, video games, Internet, mobile, software tools and technology, animation and special F/X.
E-commerce is now one of the huge land-grab opportunities. The path to E-commerce is fraught with “mine-fields” but China is all about learning to navigate new challenges SEE.
“Wait and see, you will know, it depends”. This maxim describes how mysterious doing business with some Chinese can be. As a guaylo or English speaking Westerner, you never really know EXACTLY what is going on. Another maxim which I always enjoyed hearing was “we’ve signed the memorandum of agreement, now the negotiation begins” It is very difficult to know, much of the time, how things are really going unless one has built a business deal or a mutually beneficially project predicated on mutual trust and reciprocity.
I wrote this article 50 months ago…it’s 10 key points for how to BEST do business in China are still relevant.
As I was quoted then, paraphrase now – and still believe today.
“China Access 2008 was the definitive entrée program for anyone who needed to fast-track doing business effectively in China. The program delivered the most current information about what was changing in China and focused on best practices to achieve one’s business objectives. Most importantly, China Access 2008 offered access to a savvy network of in-market professionals who know how to best operate in this enormously complex and rapidly evolving economy.”