Business in China, asia, internship, internasia, hutongschool

What to expect when working in China

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China, business, study abroad, internship, make money in china, asia

If you are coming to China for work it is important that you prepare yourself and understand the differences in the business culture. Chinese culture is completely different to Western culture, and understanding the business climate can help you form better working relationships. Some Chinese practices have now started to evolve and to align with Western business practices but not all of them. Let us help you understand what you should be aware of within your business environment in China.



Within the Chinese business context, business relationships become social over time. Strong relationships are formed by sharing your personal life, hobbies, aspirations and point of views with your clients and colleagues. In China, most of the time spent at work is spent discussing issues that are outside from business and this is what causes the success of businesses in China and forms the roots for a prosperous ones.


China is based on a hierarchical society. In the government, this is very important and respected among the people. Be aware that in a business Chinese setting you do not address the people by calling them “Mr” or “Mrs”, but rather by their position title followed by the name; i.e Manager George, Director Peter.

Saving Face

This concept will be unfamiliar to westerners but it is essential to grasp. The idea behind this concept is that you should not do things that can embarrass another person. China as a country has this concept deeply imbedded within the culture and it extends also into the business environment. In general this culture discourages criticism and therefore your manager will never publicly disapprove or jeopridize you. They believe that face/image should always be protected. A Chinese boss for this reason will never point out your flaws and prefers to keep his real opinion to himself. You can understand from this observation, that for a Westerner this may be challenging because it will not be possible to read your boss or colleagues really opinion of you.


There is a really big difference in the two approaches of western and eastern cultures. Those brought up in a western culture are taught to defend ideas and make their opinion heard. Those in Eastern cultures on the other hand are encouraged to be more reserved, to listen and to keep opinions to themselves. When these two types of groups come together, there can be a business misunderstanding and westerners can be perceived as rude. For this reason,if you are working in China try to be less confrontational and be careful not to push your opinion. Nod along with other's suggestions and don't argue to prove your point. Having said this, some local people have lived or studied overseas and their communication style may vary.


The greatest difference between Western and Chinese culture lays in the titles. While the Western culture is moving towards a modern method in which people are on same level within a group in the business environment, Chinese culture puts emphasis on titles. It is very important for its hierarchal culture to keep these titles within business.

Professional life verse work life

For Americans and Europeans keeping work life separate to personal life is very important. Privacy is a priority, and personal life is kept out from the workplace. In China this is very different. Work and personal life become one and both are shared with colleagues and managers. Chinese believe strongly in networking and in social circles. 


Due to the “saving face” concept in China, no one will frown upon you if you arrive late at an appointment (“saving face concept”). In fact, in Chinese culture being late will be excusable since they will assume you have genuine reasons.This may benefit westerners who come and work here and are not punctual.


While these two types of cultures come together, it can be very common that friction or misunderstandings may occur. However, with patience and an understanding of each ones culture this can be overcome. In fact with China’s economy booming and the country evolving, it would be a pity not to try and experience the culture. China has a lot to offer for those willing to conform to their business culture and relationships and networks can build a brilliant career ahead of you. 
If you are interested in exploring your options here in China and want to take a step at the time, a good option will be to start your experience with an internship and get a feel of the business working environment. This way it will be possible to understand whether China is for you and then later decide to progress to a permanent position. If you should be interested in this option we can help you find an internship in Asia. InternAsia is designed to be a helpful platform to assist in finding positions that can suit you best. With providers spread in different destinations, your internship abroad and exciting opportunity is just a click away!
Guest Writer: Letizia S


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