The importance of “Saving Face”
Having spent many years in Asia, I quickly learned the importance of maintaining “face” when dealing with Asian businessmen. This becomes important when engaging in negotiations (for example). You must always allow the other participant to have a little wiggle room [even after submitting their best offer]. Even tough the new offer may be only minimally better, it should allow the Chinese participant (whether customer, partner or other) to have the final say and maintain face.
Interesting read : Wikipedia
Working with imperfect information
It’s no secret that information does not flow freely in China and local culture dictates that negative information should be suppressed as much as possible.
The National Bureau of Statistics publishes a giant manual called the China Statistical Yearbook. It contains all kinds of goodies for interested parties from the amount of residential floor space built to the amount of cargo carried by Chinese shippers. All wonderful and interesting stuff…
Foreign statistical experts I have spoken to question the validity of the information contained therein. They state the pressure on local officials to constantly show improving performance thus the motivation to “inflate or deflate” the published numbers. The delta from reality is sometimes small and other times extremely large. There is no way to tell for sure.
Even with all of it’s pitfalls, China is still the land of possibility and most business’ will choose to embark on the path of the Dragon. Remember to measure twice and cut once. Spend as much time as you need at the start of your endeavor to ensure it ends up the way you want.