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Key to success in China: Leave your bible and gun behind

Popularity 9Viewed 10098 times 2013-12-9 17:10 |System category:Economy| success, outside, trying, China, world

Currently in the Netherlands they showcase big resentment to the outside world trying to dictate the rules on behaviour. The ancient annual national holiday celebration Sinterklaas has aroused many complaints for being discriminative to other people. Reason for controversy is the helper of Saint Nicolaas; a black painted, red lipped, funny helper in a traditional outfit called zwarte Piet (black Pete). As a response to the shout out by people asking to abolish Sinterklaas, over two million people in the Netherlands signed a petition almost declaring war against people who speak up against this National holiday.


Discrimination is a feeling people get because of a certain manifestation, so it is impossible to deny these people truly feel discriminated. Still, when people speak out for feeling a certain way about this cultural phenomenon, the Dutch feel attacked by the outside world. It is almost as if the Dutch border is being attacked and verbally defended with the ferocity of a lion. Do not touch our habits, like it or get out!


Interestingly enough, finger pointing and changing behaviour is what the Western world does, including the Netherlands. Centuries ago we started with enforcing our rules upon other countries and regions. In the name of the bible and with a weapon in our hands it started as early as 1096 (first crusade). These days we have traded the bible for democracy, but we still enforce our way of life upon other cultures and countries. Many examples can be noted down in the history over the years.


What does this teach us about doing business in countries like China? When you want to be successful in China, or in any other country, you need to leave your habits behind. Do not try and enforce your western way of thinking and acting upon your counterpart, but start with a clean slate. You are not there to judge or compare, you are doing business in China because you need something from the 1.3 billion potential consumers.


A great example of not leaving our Bible and weapon behind is provided to us by non-other than the European Union. Once a year, and for 13 years on, the European Chamber in China present a costly detailed position paper for and in China.  The elephantine book contained copious amounts of recommendations for the Chinese government to make Europeans life and doing business easier and better in the Peoples Republic of China. Not one single comment on a potentially discriminative yearly national holiday, but a paper full of comments. Imagine how you would feel and respond when China or any other country would issue a paper like this in your country?


To be culturally successful, you need to forget what you know. This goes, above all else, for Western governmental organizations. It is true; government officials can easily open doors in China. However you never hear that government officials can also close doors in a much worse manner than any company or person can.


Forget everything you know, erase everything you have been taught and think solely about what you need and want. This does not mean that you have to completely surrender to, in this case, the Chinese culture. Just focus on formulating a strategy in order to get what you want and go for it. You then have great odds to be part of the 10% of foreign companies who are currently successful in China after three years.

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)


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Comment Comment (7 comments)

Reply Report MichielVos 2013-12-9 17:21
Well said!!
Reply Report voice_cd 2013-12-10 16:58
Very helpful article for foreign companies and entrepreneur.
Reply Report Beijing1421 2013-12-11 18:55
Thank you both
Reply Report Zoggles 2013-12-13 15:42
Your article reminds me of the countless times various groups have tried to ban Christmas in the UK.
Reply Report huaren2323 2013-12-13 21:13
Good Food for Thought for all Foreigner and their businesses in China.
Reply Report DailyofChina 2013-12-15 16:03
Smart point of view.
Reply Report Dr.Bill.Shen 2013-12-20 15:42
as long as you can stomach some agnostic or althiest comments about your religion, you will find chinese people are truly firendly to be with. I would characterise most chinese people are agnostics. religion does not really play a significant role as it does in other countries. most of people does not have any foggy idea about other religions other than from the news. Being pragmatic and giving a benefit of doubt on anything you hear about your religion, you should thrive in China. In case you are a fervent devotee, you should not bother to make a regretful trip.

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