These days there is hardly any multinational company without some form of footprint in China. As the second largest economy on earth, it is evident why China is such an easy place to do business. From manufacturing most products seen in households and workplaces around the globe, to pioneering new technologies, China is the jack of all trades. As such, it is no wonder it attracts millions of business people each year to visit from all around the world. If you happen to be one of them and wish to be prepared for the visit we have put together this awesome list full of suggestions on things to pay attention to and to bring on your trip to China.
1. Travel documents
Pretty obvious right? A valid passport with a valid business visa seem like the first two things travelers would make sure to get. The truth is, however, that more than a few arrive in China to find out they have the wrong type of visa.
There are two types of business visas available when entering China. They are known as the “F” and the “M” visas. Both are fairly easy to arrange prior to your trip and knowing which one to obtain is based on the purpose of your visit.
The ‘F’ visas apply to those most likely attending a fair or a trade show, and those visits are referred to as non-business exchange or a non-commercial visit.
The “M” visas, on the other hand, apply to those visiting China to attend meetings, acquire new clients or to perform general trade.
Whilst the airport or border crossings are likely to be the only places you’ll need to show your ID/documentation, it is still good to carry scanned copies of your documents with you or have them on your tablet/mobile phone at all times.
2. A business card in Chinese
Exchanging business cards is very popular in China, especially when it comes to doing business with foreign clients or business partners.
Chinese often adopt or translate their names from Chinese characters to English names when interacting with foreigners. The same should be done in return. So before your visit translate your details on one side of the business card to Mandarin. Doing so will make it easier for your Chinese counterparts to pronounce your name and details correctly and will leave little room for misunderstanding in who you are and what your business does.
Trust is an integral element in business relationships throughout China. Small signs of effort, like presenting a translated business card can go a long way and help improve or build a great relationship with your Chinese business partners.
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3. Appropriate clothing
No, we’re not talking about the colour of your tie matching your socks to make a bold fashion statement your Chinese counterparts are sure to take note of. China’s business culture is rather conservative when it comes to dress code. If you’re meeting government officials or dealing with corporate clients, a suit is still generally the way to go.
On the other hand, if you find yourself in China attending a trade show or exploring factories or sites you’re thinking of doing business with in the future then a comfortable pair of jeans and sneakers will be a much better choice.
China’s climate is something to pay attention too before packing your bags. Most of the major cities like Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Beijing, and Shanghai tend to be very humid during the summer months, so carrying an extra shirt in your luggage is never a bad idea.
4. Apps that make life easier
Even though apps are not something to bring or pack for your trip to China, it is essential to mention a few. There are many available apps that can make a trip to China easier and help avoid the “lost in translation” feeling.
Virtual Private Network (VPN): The great firewall of China is well documented, and unfortunately still very much in existence. Keeping up to date with emails on your Gmail account or posting updates on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram or Twitter is not possible in China without using a VPN provider, which bypasses the firewall. Even with a VPN, the internet speed in China seems to be not as nearly as fast as in the West. Android phones are also particularly affected in China as most of their main functions are Google-driven. iPhones, on the other hand, don’t experience the same problem as the basic Apple apps such as Safari won’t be blocked in China.
WeChat: Originally a simple instant messaging service, WeChat has grown to be one of the most popular and used apps by millions of Chinese users. Available on both the Apple App Store and Google Play store, WeChat can be used to transfer files, translate messages, make instant payments, send live locations, video calling, instant messaging, and so much more. It’s an essential tool for doing business in China, as it is often the easiest and fastest method of communication between manufacturers, importers, and clients.
WayGo: Unless you’re fluent in Mandarin or Cantonese, chances are you’ll need some form of translation app on your smartphone when visiting China. One of the best translation apps on the market at the moment is probably WayGo. Available to both the iOS and Android markets, the app has been described as a piece of software engineering brilliance. WayGo is able to translate Chinese text to English in real time by using the camera on your smartphone. The best part is, that the app doesn’t need a steady internet connection to do so! The offline version is fully functional and extremely useful!
When you hear gifts, you’re probably thinking of what gifts you can bring home from your business trip to China.
Bringing gifts from your business trip in China is a great way to show your family and friends that you care and wish to share a part of the culture you have experienced during your travels with them. Often, doing the same when arriving to China can have the same effect. Manufacturers, clients and even corporate colleagues you are meeting with in China enjoy receiving gifts from your country and learn about your culture.
Gift giving is a big part of the Chinese culture, signifying a token of appreciation for the person you’re meeting. It’s worth doing some research on what your Chinese hosts may like to receive from your country. It doesn’t need to be expensive, the symbol is what counts.
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