Open Chat:Thoughts and debates
Titles: Trust Update time: Jan 10, 2013
Dan Harris of China Law Blog ( had a great article a few days ago about China business stereotypes by people in the West ( His blog is a great read and is a must read fort anyone who does business here. I quote from the article below. He wrote

I cringe every time one of our clients proclaims how "the Chinese just can’t be trusted." I virtually always counter that by saying that my firm has had long-term great relationships with a number of law firms in China and trust has never once been an issue. I then usually follow that up by saying that we have a number of clients that have had twenty plus year relationships with their Chinese factories without a single incident involving deception.
I concur. If we ever analyzed the percentages of business-related deception incidents between those in the US and in China my guts feeling is that the results would be more or less the same. I do point out though that there seem to be subtle but significant differences between the West and China in what kind of actions we perceive as deceptions. For instance not telling the truth to save someone's face - this act will likely be considered deceptive in the West. But in China I feel that a significant majority would consider 'destroying someone's face' would be a greater "crime" than simply not telling the truth. I can't come up with other examples right now but hopefully someone will chime in. [ Last edited by goemong at 10-1-2013 21:33 ]
Titles: Update time: Jan 11, 2013
The gut...way more accurate than facts since George W. Bush.
Titles: Update time: Jan 11, 2013
Deception is very common place in China. Bear with me as a go on a slight rant. Unfortunately I have NOT found "morality" in China to be based on sincerity but rather on one's "cleverness" and the ability to either move up rank in government or to earn money. Just as unfortunate is the hierarchical social system and the emphasis on money or government positions being the differentiating factor of the classes. Often times I think these are contributing factors to misplaced morals in China. Of course these are incredibly general statements and very unfair. After being here for 10 years I can tell you that I have definitely met and still meet many people and company's here in China from all different "hierarchical classes" countries and of different sizes whom I trust completely and work with daily. That being said I'll list a few other common deceptions LIVING in China not necessarily with doing business in China. Saving face because the truth is too embarrassing which I think you already mentioned. Gaining or winning face by either exaggerating the truth or just straight up lying. In business we sometimes call this "shui fen" Water content. Ie. "my business is worth 100 Million Dollars" when it is actually worth like 1M. Another case would be if you hear "that's my factory". Sales deception by telling you something is bad or fake when they actually have no idea whether it is or not. I mean they're just trying to get you to buy a new part but we see this all over the world as well. Standards deception and this is probably what most sourcing company's worry about and what we experience in day to day life in China. This is just common business practice in China. An infrastructure example would be the expressways/highways/ring road systems especially 3rd ring road around the airport area in Wuhan. The (sub)-contractor will say they are using X amount of concrete VS. sand mixture at an X level of thickness with X type of steel rods. In actuality they're using X/2 concrete + sand mixture at X/2 level of thickness with sub X standard steel rods. What you get is a highway that's going to last 2 years before it needs a major overhaul because it's using half the materials but the government has paid the full amount for the job. Standards in Food & Drugs this is very commonplace as well. Examples would be with liquor cigarettes cooking oil meat products etc. Meat products often being flavorless in China because it is sold by weight and often saturated with a chemical liquid which helps the meat retain water (water being heavier and cheaper than the meat). Deception in numbers such as Air Quality and the measurement of air quality; with the government in China using one method of calculation while the rest of the world uses another standard set by the UN. GDP numbers are the same I mean they actually don't average out province to province. I can't say I feel I have ever been cheated doing business in China but I definitely feel as if I have been deceived on more than one occasion. Usually I do think it goes back to standards and our different interpretations of these standards. To be fair common sense to me may make no sense at all to someone who comes from a different background and upbringing. At the same time maybe common sense is as common as we think and maybe I was just getting both deceived and cheated.
Titles: Update time: Jan 11, 2013
ruxpin thank you for your comments. Much appreciated. Since you've been here for a long time your observation carries a lot of weight and I for one can relate to most of what you said. In fairness however I think we need to separate two issues here: lack of regulation (or its enforcement) and cultural difference in ethics. I don't insist there definitely is a clear line separating these two but it seems to to me that each "deception" incidence tends to fall into one category or the other. One such example is plagiarism in schools. Since there are many teachers here I hope someone can chime in this. Am I correct in stating that plagiarism is very common in Chinese schools even among faculty members? I certainly feel this way. Not only assignments but also personal statements reference letters from students are usually fake meaning those are written by someone else. I'm not saying cheating doesn't happen in America. It does but not this often. Is the rampant plagiarism because of the lack of morality on the part of Chinese students relative to American students? Or does it reflect something else - such as super competitive academic environment (which is unhealthy in my opinion) and a near total lack of guidance in which students are explicitly told that plagiarism is unacceptable? My personal opinion is that the rampant plagiarism is mostly caused by the lack of regulation and education not by the lack of morality. In other words if we put an average American kid in this system they would also as likely cheat. Unfortunately the lack of regulations means that this society rewards cheaters and tend to punish those who are honest. Since humans tend to act to maximize their return on investment (in money time energy) it may not be avoidable that many otherwise ethical people would find it "too expensive" to remain totally honest among a bunch of cheaters. I think many of the deception in business also fall into this category. That is if you do not cheat you are screwed. I think this partly explains why Chinese vendors do not cheat as often when they deal with American companies.* * Edit: Of course if you are an American company and doesn't do any due diligence in dealing with Chinese companies you are setting up yourself as an easy prey. But that's also true in the US too. [ Last edited by goemong at 12-1-2013 00:42 ]
Titles: Update time: Jan 12, 2013
If you're interested in how Chinese companies deal with American business read "Poorly Made in China". The author spent some years in China working for American companies doing business here. His main thing was what he called "quality fade". Basically an American company would come to China and look for a factory to produce its goods. Finding such a place was no problem. These factories would bend over backwards and even quote prices which were sometimes so low that the factory couldn't make a profit. Once a company became heavily invested in this factory things changed. The factory would unilaterally make changes of ingredients substituting cheaper stuff which leads to an inferior product. You ever buy liquid soap that seems to jell up when it gets cold? (I've never noticed this in America but it happens often here). Then prices go up. Knock of brands soon follow. One story I liked the best: An American inspector took a look at a soap factory. The company was given a warning as workers were using the bathroom and not washing their hands after. When this was brought to the attention of the owner she said "We don't have any soap...if you want us to wash our hands it will cost extra to buy it."