Every nation has diverse variables that might have an effect on the operations of a foreign company operating in the country, such as different currency, taxation, and rules and regulations. These factors might either hinder or promote business for such companies. For instance, a company might exploit an existing cheap labor or ready market. Among these factors, the differences in culture is the most essential aspect to consider when expanding globally. According to the international business theory, multinational organizations attempt to expand into nations that have more similarities than differences in cultures to avoid cultural incompatibility. Therefore, this paper will conduct a culture analysis of China.
China is located in Eastern Asia between longitudes 135 and 73 degrees east, and latitudes 54 and 18 degrees north. Beijing is the capital of China (Ferraro & Brody, 2015). The country consists of 22 provinces, 2 specially administered regions, 5 autonomous regions, and 4 municipalities (Dreyer, 2015). China shares borders with 14 countries, with total land boundaries being 22,117 kilometers long (13,743 miles). China is separated from Japan, Taiwan, and Korea by East China Sea in the East and in the Southeast by the South China Sea (Dreyer, 2015).
According to ancient historical archives, Ancient China appeared in 2100-1600 BC. The Republic of China was formed on March 12, 1912, in Nanjing (Dreyer, 2015). Students, military officers and young officials, began the revolution to overthrow the Qing dynasty in order to form a republic. That happened after China became weak and frustrated by the Qing court’s opposition to reform. On October 10, 1911, the Wuchang Uprising and a radical military rebellion started in Wuhan. As a result, the provisional government of the Republic of China was created, thus ending in the Xinhai Revolution aimed at finishing 2000 years of dynasty rule. China’s history goes back to over 4,000 years (Dreyer, 2015). During that time, China created culture rich in philosophy and the arts. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) was established in 1949 after a successful revolution led by Mao Zedong. Since then, the various leaders of the country have adopted different political systems. For instance, Mao was mainly a communist; however, when Deng Xiaoping appeared to lead the country in 1978, he adopted liberal policies that sought to develop China economically (Dreyer, 2015). The current regime is more pragmatic in terms of its policies and places emphasis on what works rather than following strict ideologies for governance.
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China is the 4th largest nation globally covering 3,705,407 square miles with a border of 13,743 miles long, making it the longest in the world (Dreyer, 2015). China has vast climate and geographical features due to its large size, and hence, it is divided into 3 regions. China is largely mountainous nation with dry, cold Tibetan Plateau (Dreyer, 2015).
China is a socialist state that is led by the working class. The political system of the country is based on democratic centralism. The key feature of China’s political system is the Constitution, which is the fundamental law of China. It was ratified on the 4th of December 1982 by the fifth National People’s Congress (NPC). The NPC denotes how state power is organized in China. It has the highest authority with respect to state power, whereas local people’s congresses play the role of local authorities. The people elect both the NPC and the local people’s congress. The Communist Party of China (CPC) is the ruling party; however, there are eight other political parties that cooperate and consult with the CPC on matters concerning governance. The central and the highest administrative agency of China is the State Council. Overall, China presently has a relatively stable political system even during periods of regime change, which creates an ideal environment for doing business.
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The economic system of China blends components of capitalism and socialism. However, the leaders are working on forming a communist economic system. After the adoption of capitalist practices, the country started to develop at a rather high speed (Donnithorne, 2013). Over 30 years, China’s Gross Domestic Product raised by approximately 10% yearly, which is a greater rate compared to that of developed countries (Dreyer, 2015). The current regime is famous for its pragmatism. The government operates with the belief that creating a successful capitalist economy is the key to growth and thus, greatly invests in the Chinese economy, making it the leading manufacturing center worldwide. The majority of Chinese businesses are government owned with powerful regulatory power over private businesses (Dreyer, 2015). Nonetheless, the control appears excessively restrictive; however, it aids the country to develop in a way the state views as the major beneficial. Leaders in China view the nation’s recognition of capitalism as an interim period required to form a communist economy (Donnithorne, 2013). The pragmatic nature of economic policies in China and the inclination towards open-door policies shows the government’s commitment to increase foreign investments in the country.
Chinese consists of seven main languages. They include, Gan, Xiang, Min, Wu, Hakka, Cantonese, and Mandarin (Dreyer, 2015). Mandarin is the official national dialect of mainland China and is labelled common language, also referred to as Putonghua. In overseas Chinese communities and Hong Kong, the common dialect is Cantonese.
Traditions are an important aspect for businesses seeking global expansion. In the modern era, Chinese culture is a combination of westernized lifestyle and ancient world traditions. It is evident in the association of the people’s contradictory attraction to McDonald’s and dim sum, the distinction between western fashion and the traditional Chinese Qipao dress, and erecting skyscrapers next to heritage buildings (Ferraro & Brody, 2015). Traditional Chinese culture is traced back to 5000 years (Jin & Cortazzi, 2006). The history of Chinese culture has vast variety and diversity. The complex Chinese civilization was rich in sculpture and delicate pottery, elaborate printing and painting techniques, and Sciences and Arts. Chinese architectural traditions were more appreciated worldwide. Chinese politics, philosophy, and religion (Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism) have left a lasting and collective impact on Chinese tradition and culture. Buddhism highlights the necessity to attain self-emancipation through good acts (Ferraro & Brody, 2015). Taoism encourages the controversial philosophy of inaction. Confucianism propagates rituals (Li) and love (Ren), indicating social hierarchy and respect for society (Jin & Cortazzi, 2006).
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Current way of life in China does not vary from those of other countries because of the influence from the West (Jin & Cortazzi, 2006). China has modern style homes, towering high-rise buildings and apartment complexes. Western culture has also influenced clothing in China. Nevertheless, the traditional values of reputation and family importance still seem to be very important in every household (Jin & Cortazzi, 2006). Moreover, it is evident that tradition remains in every Chinese society and family worldwide (Jin & Cortazzi, 2006). In rural regions, the traditional way of life is evident and straw-and-mud houses still exist. Today, both sexes are equal, girls are also valued the same way as boys. Females can work away from home. Relationships are democratic nowadays as parents do not anticipate their offspring to show unquestionable obedience. Marriages are no longer arranged and young people are allowed to choose their own partners for marriage based on mutual attraction and shared interest (Jin & Cortazzi, 2006).
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Cultural characteristics incorporate respect, honor, and good reputation (Dreyer, 2015). They include Confucianism, collectivism vs. individualism, and non-verbal communication (Ferraro & Brody, 2015). Non-verbal communication in China is considered rather important. In this respect, the Chinese consider an individual’s posture, tone of voice, and facial expression to show how they feel (Gong, Chow, & Ahlstrom, 2011). For example, it is considered impolite to stare into another individual’s eyes. Collectivism vs. individualism is yet another cultural characteristic. In China, the society is collective with the availability of group affiliation in work group, family, nation, and school (Jin & Cortazzi, 2006). To preserve harmony, the Chinese always try to be modest and avoid embarrassing a person in public (Gong et al., 2011). Confucianism as a cultural characteristic is a system of ethics and behaviors that emphasize the obligation of persons concerning each other based on their connection such as husband and wife (Ferraro & Brody, 2015).
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Business practices in China are centered on relationships and communication, business meeting, business negotiation, dress code, and business cards (Jin & Cortazzi, 2006). In relationship and communication, the Chinese formally built business relationships after they get to know each other. Usually, the Chinese prefer face-to-face meetings and not telephonic and written communication (Jin & Cortazzi, 2006). Regarding business cards, it is essential to have one side of the business card translated into Chinese in simple Chinese characters printed in gold ink. Business cards are exchanged after the first introduction (Ferraro & Brody, 2015). In business meeting practices, it is necessary to have appointments that, if possible, have to be made in advance, preferably in writing. It is vital to arrive at business meetings earlier since the Chinese consider punctuality as a virtue (Jin & Cortazzi, 2006). Concerning dress code as a business practice, females should wear shoes with low heels or flat shoes. Male are expected to wear dark colored, conservative business suits, whereas women should wear dresses with high neckline or conservative business suits (Jin & Cortazzi, 2006). In business negotiation, only the senior officials of the negotiation team are allowed to speak. The Chinese are sharp negotiators. Chinese are non-confrontational since they do not say no, but rather give a hint about it (Jin & Cortazzi, 2006).
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Tips for Leading in China
Leaders in China should be culturally-aware. This requires understanding the Chinese culture and the way it affects various aspects of leadership, such as communication and interpersonal relationships (Ferraro & Brody, 2015). Leaders who are culturally aware are sensitive to cultural diversity. When leading in China, it is imperative for one to have a deep sense of self-awareness, which entails having an understanding that one’s beliefs might differ from the beliefs of others. This is important in ensuring that the leader is able to adapt to and tolerate the Chinese beliefs (Ferraro & Brody, 2015). Besides, the Chinese are known to be good negotiators; therefore, leading in this country requires one to have excellent negotiation skills to be effective leaders.
From the discussion, it is evident that leaders of a new venture in China should take into account a myriad of factors. The first important factor relates to the traditions, languages, and cultures of the Chinese. Although there is a slight Western influence, the Chinese culture still dominates, which demands the leader to adapt to and tolerate the way these cultural aspects influence leadership. It is imperative for the leader of the new venture to understand how culture will influence his/her leadership roles, including communication and building relationships with others. The second important factor for consideration relates to the business practices, wherein leaders must adhere to the Chinese ways of doing business if they are to be respected and held in high esteem.