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Doing business in China: your starter guide.
With a population of more than one billion, China can be overwhelming at first especially if you’re from a smaller city, but understanding the culture is key.
The population figure alone serves as an insight into the behavioural attributes of the Chinese market; how the Chinese receive information, the amount of information they receive, the array of marketing and media they’re exposed to on a daily basis and the many cities and provinces across the country – all of which have their own unique sub-cultures.
The enriched traditions of thousands of years of languages, cultures, nations and religions is threaded into society, mostly depending on the area you’re visiting. For example, Shanghai is more westernised with a globally savvy and accepting population.
It’s definitely not a country to approach lightly or to approach bootstrapped.
The capital of China is
Official written language
Calling outside China
Plus Eight Six
The Chinese language.
The Chinese language, namely Standard Mandarin, is the official language of China and is used in Mongolia, Singapore and Taiwan, among others.
In its written form, it’s most commonly used in Simplified Chinese or Traditional Chinese (although there are many more dialects and written forms). Generally speaking, you can associate Simplified Chinese with the spoken language of Mandarin and Traditional Chinese with the spoken language of Cantonese.
Chinese is a language group consisting of many languages, some 13 main dialects, some of which include Standard Chinese/Mandarin, Yue (Cantonese), Wu (Shanghaiese), Minbei (Fuzhou), Minnan (Hokkien-Taiwanese), Xiang, Gan and Hakka dialects.
These are mutually unintelligible to varying degrees, with Standard Chinese/Mandarin (Putonghua, based on the Beijing dialect) being the national language spoken by more than 70% of the population.
Traditional vs. Simplified Chinese Translation
Traditional and Simplified Chinese are the two main written forms for Chinese characters. Simplified is most commonly referred to as ‘Spoken Mandarin’ whilst Traditional Chinese can be associated with ‘Spoken Cantonese’.
If you’re looking for Chinese translation or writing your content in Chinese, the system you select will depend on two things; the location and the people.
Generally speaking, the traditional system is still used in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau and Chinese speaking communities outside mainland China (except Singapore and Malaysia). Its form originates from the standardised character forms dating back to the late Han dynasty.
Simplified Chinese however, literally ‘simplifies’ most complex traditional characters/glyphs to fewer strokes, many to common caoshu shorthand variants, and is used across most of China and Singapore.
Facts about the Chinese language
A knowledge of 2000 characters supports basic literacy.
Doing business tips.
Apart from translation tips such as making sure you’ve selected the correct writing system for your target market and using native Chinese translators, the following tips should help you in face-to-face situations.
Take your time
A strong negotiating tactic and cultural characteristic that can be used against you if you try to rush things.
The Chinese culture is collectivist so it pays to understand cultural dimensions when doing business in China.
Take note of the details
Cultural customs such as handing your business card with two hands is a must and a sign of respect. Other customs and attention to the details will be of benefit.
Ensure you go through the appropriate hierarchy when doing business, even when you greet.
Business dress is formal
This means shirt, tie and trousers and if in doubt, just wear a suit. Women in China dress conservatively and formally for work.
Resources to get you started.
PWC has some great content on doing business and investing in China, all compiled in to one download.
DoingBusiness.org highlights China’s current economy and provides a detailed process on how to start a business in China.
Frequently Asked Questions.
Learn more about the Chinese language and FAQ for Chinese translation services.
What does Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese mean?
The most important thing you need to know is that this classification revolves around the characters used.
What is Mandarin and Cantonese? Are there other dialects?
Mandarin and Cantonese are spoken dialects of Chinese. Generally speaking, Simplified Chinese is mostly associated with the written form of Simplified Chinese, while Cantonese is mostly associated with the written form of Traditional Chinese.
What's the difference between spoken Chinese and written Chinese?
Written Chinese happens to be generally standardized - unlike spoken Chinese.
The Chinese language.
Chinese belongs to a family of languages called the Sino-Tibetan languages, which is a region largely covering South Asia East Asia, South-East Asia and Central Asia.