For the uninitiated Chinese etiquette can appear very confusing.
(TIME) -- Developing close personal relationships or "guanxi" is an essential part of doing business in the People's Republic of China
When conducting business in China, always abide by the Confucian principles of showing humility, sincerity and courtesy in dealing with others and be sensitive to the concept of saving face.
Never criticise or question counterparts in front of others and be aware that the Chinese find it difficult to say no, as this is seen to entail a loss of face.
Establishing business contacts can be a challenge for the foreigner. Try to find a third party or intermediary, such as a small business association, to introduce you to potential business partners.
Once initial contact is made, building a close relationship with business associates is key. Unlike in the Western world, the Chinese are unlikely to enter into business until a personal relationship, or "guanxi" has been established. Friendships may be cultivated at business dinners and goodwill expressed through the giving of small gifts.
As you progress towards the negotiating table, ensure you are familiar with the strict protocol governing business meetings.
Delegates are expected to be punctual and should enter the meeting room in hierarchical order, led by the head of the delegation. The obligatory exchange of business cards is done during introductions.
Ensure your card has both English and Chinese writing and give and receive cards with both hands. Spend a few moments reading the card you have been given, showing due respect to the person it represents.
Typically, the Chinese are tough negotiators and will show extraordinary perseverance in pursuing a satisfactory outcome.
One person should be chosen to speak on behalf of the foreign delegation as the Chinese may be confused by members of the same group contradicting each other.
The pace of negotiations can be slow -- accept that delays may occur and show little emotion. At the conclusion of negotiations, expect an invitation to a lavish banquet -- a grand gesture of Chinese hospitality.