Over the past decade, China’s middle class has exploded and surpassed the total population of the United States. The growing importance of the Chinese consumer market continues to present an opportunity for companies seeking to expand their market size. Yet, China is a unique place and conducting business in The Middle Kingdom does not come without its risks. In this post, Global Guardian highlights what you need to know for business travel to China.
“I HAVE a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore.”
The business culture in East Asia, especially in China, is radically different than that of the West and many parts of the developing world. Even if you’re on your best behavior, it is quite possible to inadvertently offend your host and even derail a relationship. Heed the advice below to prevent any cultural slip-ups.
- Both physical and eye contact are faux-pas in China. Avoid hugs, back slaps, and looking directly into the eyes of strangers/new acquaintances.
Business cards are customarily exchanged in China. Make sure to:
- Stand when exchanging cards
- Have dual-sided Chinese translated cards (one side English, one side simplified Mandarin)
- Present the Chinese side face up using two hands
- Always take the time to read a card after it is presented to you
- NEVER write comments on another person's business card
- Leaving a tip can embarrass the recipients, it may even be misinterpreted as a bribe (though tipping in Hong Kong is acceptable in high-end establishments).
- It is considered rude to place chopsticks standing up in a bowl (a symbol of death). Rest chopsticks on a chopstick holder instead.
- The most senior person begins the greetings. Greet the oldest, most senior person before others.
- In group introductions, line up according to seniority with the senior person at the head of the line.
- Use family names and titles to refer to yourself and colleagues (married women retain their maiden names). Example: John Smith, CEO of ACMECorp
- Chinese people point with an open hand. NEVER point with you index finger.
- Respect and reputation are paramount in Chinese culture. NEVER criticize, contradict, or upstage someone during a meeting.
The Great Firewall of China
The Golden Shield Project, colloquially known as “The Great Firewall of China” (GFW), is a combination of a legal framework and technological system, whereby the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regulates the internet within Mainland China. It is a highly complex and technologically sophisticated system designed to prevent political mobilization and
thwart the flow of any information the CCP deems a threat to the regime. As such, the internet in China essentially functions as a separate entity from the internet abroad, and all communication between the global and Mainland internet is filtered through the GFW. The GFW utilizes several methods to control the internet: URL filtering (denial of access is based on keywords); manual and self-censorship (the government employees censors flag and filter content, while individuals and corporations understand that content that violates the law will be met with harsh penalties); and DNS poisoning (the GFW breaks the connection between devices and blocked websites, preventing contact). Blocked platforms include social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), blogging, email services (Google), search engines (Google, Yahoo, etc.), messaging applications (WhatsApp), streaming sites (Netflix), news outlets (NYT, WSJ, FT, etc.) and cloud storage (Google, Slideshare, Dropbox, etc.). While it is possible to circumvent the GFW by using a virtual private network (VPN), the authorities have the capacity to block many of them.
You Are a Target
China's state-sponsored hacking outfits are of the most sophisticated in world. It has a very long and successful history of penetrating corporate information technology systems. The government and many state-linked enterprises have expansive efforts in place to acquire U.S. technology, including sensitive trade secrets and intellectual property. If you are traveling to China for business purposes, you should assume that you are of interest to a hostile actor.
Standing by to Support...
Global Guardian has the tools and experience necessary to identify and defend against cyber attacks from China. We strongly recommend Global Guardian’s cyber security suite of services to include:
- Next generation firewalls that can consume and utilize targeted intelligence
- Endpoint system upgrades on all computers, to include anti-evasion software
- Removal of passwords in favor of newer, easier to use, and
safer multi-factor authentication systems
- 24 x 7 Cyber Monitoring, Hunting, and Response