Anyone care to do business in China? Let me begin this with a section from the October 2011 Inc. Magazine article, “Doing Business in China” by David H. Freedman. Mr. Freedman witnessed a huge deal between an American Citizen Chinese businessman and Chinese officials. Here is the quote from the article: But it’s hard to focus on conversation, because people are randomly bolting out of their chairs, running around the tables to other banqueters, thrusting glasses of wine in their faces, and shouting, “Ganbei!” This translates roughly as bottoms up. It is not a suggestion. Failure to drain your glass on cue is a shocking breach of protocol, something along the lines of slapping away a hand offered for a friendly shake. As soon as your emptied glass hits the table, it will be refilled and ready for the next gambei assault. This routine sometimes goes to the point of hospitalization for alcohol poisoning for some of the participants. But allowing yourself to become an alcohol-poisoned wretch is not a sign of personal failure or weakness—on the contrary, it is a badge of trustworthiness, conferring what some call the hangover of honor. You are laying bare your true idiot self for your potential partners to evaluate. Even many top executives and influential politicians will hold you at arm’s length until they have seen you wrecked. Drunken dinners are not entertainment after a hard day of business meetings. They are the business meetings, at which the key decisions about who will get the deals are forged. What happens during the day is often merely about preliminaries of ironing out details. Call me naïve but I stopped drinking years ago and have no intentions of getting back on that merry-go-round. During business with openness, genuine-ness, and most of all integrity is the way I believe Americans should conduct business. Web Developer (Brian Boyer, President of Web Pyro, LLC) developed the website for our local Ethical Business Committee (www.ethicalbusinessguide.org) and shared with our Rotary Club an education experience he had in Hong Kong as an exchange student during his final year at Miami University. Brian attended a course about doing business in China essentially teaching students to embrace what would be by Western standards corruption. Brian expressed how shocking and counter this teaching was to our ethical business principles listed on our website. Brian goes on to explain however that this is more of a culture disconnect than criminal. Bribery to the Chinese business person is considered simply giving dollars to expedite their permit application. The way Americans conduct business is considered rudeness to the Chinese as they feel we devalue family and friends in business transactions. The question I have is this: Can grownups do business in China and still remain credible with their dignity in tact? I would like to hear from you, please weigh in.
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