International Business – Chinese Negotiations

Effective Openings: Presenting Your Position

Most Western negotiators will begin a negotiation in China by “getting down to business” and presenting a list of the key items they wish to discuss. This reflects a general Western preference for focusing on tasks before relationships.

The Chinese, on the other hand, often prefer to agree first on broad principles that will form the framework for a relationship based on trust. These principles may include mutual respect, fairness, and flexibility. Only after they feel they have established trust will the Chinese get to the details. This reflects their preference for focusing first on human relationships rather than tasks.

Advice for Negotiators:

Plan to spend time building a relationship with your Chinese counterparts; don’t rush to the details
Prepare an opening statement of basic principles you feel should govern your relationship and ask the Chinese team to present theirs
Don’t hesitate to appeal to your “relationship based on trust and mutual respect” if you feel the Chinese demands are unrealistic; they will do the same to you. When negotiating market entry deals, it is easy to think that the Chinese have most of the power. How can you check that?

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