Negotiating in China
- Carson Block, China Primer
Dealing with privately-owned (non-SOE) Chinese companies is very difficult because many successful Chinese business owners have either made their money through the use of tough “zero sum” business tactics, or through too little effort. Private Chinese companies tend to be autocratic, with the owner making all decisions. Therefore, understanding whether the owner of the company fits into either of the categories below will be helpful in formulating your negotiation strategy.
The Chinese deliberately make negotiations painful and lengthy for their counterparties. After far too many hours of going around in logical circles and inhaling others’ cigarette smoke during one particular negotiation, I thought about how I could efficiently get us to the signing stage. We had been telling the Chinese side (truthfully) that we were at our bottom line. But, they were unwilling to take us at our word. I wondered whether, if I set myself on fire, they would take our claim more seriously.