Officially known as the People’s Republic of China (PRC), China is home to more than 1.35 billion people and a bastion of various enterprises. Heading to China for business has become increasingly common as the country continues its profitable expansion and growth.
The official language is standard Mandarin; the capital is Beijing; and the art of doing business is likely to be successful with the right attitude and requirements.
The requirements for China business visas vary, depending on your citizenship. Some citizens, such as those from France, Turkey and Pakistan, must apply in person at designated locations to be fingerprinted. Others, such as those from the U.S. and Canada, can complete the business visa requirements online.
Although U.S. and Canadian citizens can apply for apply for a 10-year visa, if they’re expecting to take multiple business trips over an extended period, the length of each individual stay is still determined by the Chinese Consulate. The Consulate typically allows stays of 30 to 90 days, with validity starting on the day the visa is issued.
The visa you request does not always match with what the Chinese Consulate issues, and it’s essential to check with your airline carrier to double-check regulations regarding dates of entry.
A number of documents are required to apply for a China business visa. These include:
A number of additional requirements apply to former citizens of China, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan.
All required documents are then submitted to the Chinese Consulate for approval. Turnaround time varies, with expedited services available for speedier authorization. Speedier authorization is also likely if you ensure the application is filled out perfectly, keeping your answers short and directly to the point, and refrain from mentioning any planned travel to Tibet.
The last 50 years have been a boon for China, which has shifted from a largely agricultural society to a manufacturing and industrial mecca. Although China had been on an economic roller coaster since the 1949 founding of the People’s Republic of China, stability and steady growth began in the late 1970s and is poised to continue into the future.
The top regional economies in China include:
Doing business in China could be focused on any number of industries, with some of the most profitable including manufacturing, trade, technology, auto, energy and financial.
Being conservative, composed and respecting customs are key aspects to doing successful business in China. The conservative nature applies to dress and presentations, with subdued colors for the former and black and white printouts for the latter. Steer clear of eye-catching colors.
Composure is essential for keeping your emotions in check, with a polite smile making a much more favorable impression than unbridled zeal. The same applies to your body language, with proper, attentive posture and slow, controlled gestures.
Customs apply to several business activities, from entering the room to exchanging business cards. The Chinese enter the room in hierarchal order, with the most important member of the organization entering first. They may expect the same from you.
The business card exchange involves taking a card out of a carrying case, and then presenting it with both hands with the writing facing the recipient. Accept a business card with both hands as well, taking a moment to study and comment upon the card.
Additional customs involve being very well-prepared, prompt and engaging in small talk before the meeting begins. Even when given a decision-making deadline, it’s not uncommon for Chinese businessmen to extend it to gain an advantage.
Handshakes are common, although you should wait for a hand to be extended instead of initiating one. Address business associates by their title and last name. Giving gifts is considered bribery and taboo at business functions.
Chinese business hours extend from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday, often with a two-hour break from noon to 2 p.m. Business appointments are best done during certain times of the year, either from April to June or September to October.
Although you may not get to do much sightseeing during the two-hour break during the workday, you can plan an excursion or two during your time off.
The Great Wall of China remains one of the most notable architectural marvels of the world, with the claim to fame of being the only manmade structure visible from the moon. One of the most well-kept and well-known sections of the wall is the Badaling section, about 40 miles northwest of Beijing.
Sampling the sensational array of authentic Chinese cuisine is another must, one that can be done any location in the country. China boasts no fewer than eight great regional cuisines that consist of:
Whether you’re headed to the People’s Republic of China for the auto, financial or manufacturing industry, ensuring your paperwork is in order and your business etiquette is up to par is the best place to start for a successful journey.
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