December 09, 2007


Doing business in China is always a new and novel experience. With our start up in the mobile advertising industry, each day is a wonderful day to fend off greedy local businessmen, short minded upper management, and stubborn government officials. A few of my favorite expenses that some of our local partners are “attempting” to bill us for (English translation lifted from expense sheet):

1) Invited the government superior leader having diner in Beijing Hotel, in order to get some help from the project: 15700 RMB/$2121

2) Sending a Dunhill bag to the leader of company in order to get some information. 8645 RMB/$1168

3) Meeting with the general manager, send him a jade carving that commemorates for Olympic. 86000 RMB/$11621

4) Sending a Patek Philippe watch to the government superior leader 130,000 RMB/$17,560

5) Spending lots of money on bad taste : Priceless

A jade carving for $11,621??! I can understand a Dunhill bag, or a Patek Philippe (Couldn't you use a Casio?), but a bloody ugly green, carved jade statue? Fountain? Olympic rings? Couldn’t they have just bought a slightly cheaper, $10,000 golden cat, with a right paw that moves up and down…...


peapod said...

I'm a Filipina running a relatively new trade and logistics company. While we do business in many other parts of the world, I am finding that a lot of our transactions are happening in China and that I am having to fast track learning about business etiquette in this country. Few questions for you jolly jetsetter: (1) Are instances like these common in China? (2) Do you feel these are practices we need to take on to succeed in this country? And (3) any tips on learning to gauge what our Chinese counterparts find tasteful? As from the sounds of this story, some of these items I would not have even considered gifting my clients with!

The Jolly Jetsetter said...

Hi Peapod
Unfortunately instances of this sort are common in China. Whether done blatantly, or through a third party (many western companies opt to do it this way), this is unfortunately how a lot of business is done on the Mainland. It happens on all levels, big or small- look at what Seimans is going through at the moment. In the end, it is a balance between how you would like to run your company and how the country runs its businesses. Not an easy choice to make.

With regard to tasteful Chinese are on your own in this one, I still have not figured that one out.