5 Must-Haves For Your Business Trip to China
The second largest economy in the world is certainly a good place to do business. China has firmly established itself as a Jack-of-all-trades and a master of all, and it may only be a matter of time before every multinational is doing business with them. This is to prepare you for that day, be it a week from now or a year, so that when you do get there for that all important trip, you’ll make the very best of it. Here are just five very important things you need to know or have before you get there.
1. Travel documents
China is a very welcoming place for tourists, but even more so for business travellers. The two categories for Business Visas are F (non-business exchange/non-commercial visit) and the Business or Trade Purpose M Visa. If your business trip is more of an excursion or invitation to take in the sights for example, what you’ll need is an F visa. It is the inviting party’s responsibility to ensure you have the right documentation, which they should send to you at least weeks in advance. If the invitation is done last-minute, you can get your visa on arrival, again with proper documentation from the host organization. If you are from the United States or France however, you may be rejected at the airport.
2. A Business Card……in Chinese
You probably have a thousand business cards already, but for your trip to China you will need new ones written in Mandarin, with your adopted Chinese name written with Chinese characters. Chinese people tend to adopt English names when dealing with foreigners, and the same is expected from them. This is to enable your Chinese counterparts to pronounce your name correctly and to also understand it better. Names are very important in Chinese culture and a misinterpreted name could cause problems.
3. Appropriate Clothing
Whatever line of business you do, you are always expected to wear a suit and tie for meetings, especially if you are meeting government officials. During the summer months it may get too hot to put on a tie, but you can always take it off if your hosts insist. Women shouldn’t wear high heels or clothes that reveal too much. The Chinese are very conservative and this could be a deal-breaker. Business attire should also be in neutral colours. You can buy excellent and affordable formal wear in most of the major cities, but it wouldn’t hurt to take a pair or two with you just in case.
4. Notepad and Chinese dictionary
The Chinese are very big on gestures and physical displays of respect and honour. When you are in a meeting, you are expected to take notes as they speak to show that you value their insights. The dictionary will come in handy translating some of the Chinese words they might say during the conversation. It is also useful for your interactions, to show you care about their language and culture. This will give you bonus points. Instead of relying solely on the dictionary however, it would be good for you to take a few Chinese lessons before you leave. You can also take a free online Chinese level test to find out how good your Mandarin already is.
5. Gifts for your host
Lastly, go prepared with a token of appreciation. Gift-giving is a big part of Chinese culture, usually in monetary terms –but not necessarily. Do your research and find out what your hosts yearn for from your own country. For example it could be a new gadget not yet out in China, or a Vinyl record of Elvis Presley. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it should be symbolic. And don’t worry; they’ll have a gift for you too.
Pack your bags with these five items, and your trip is certain to be a big hit!