Doing Business In China

  1. China’s overall Doing Business 2013 ranking is 91 out of 185 economies, with no change in overall ranking compared to last year.
  2. China’s limits on foreign equity ownership are stricter compared to the countries covered by the Investing Across Sectors indicators in East Asia and the Pacific. The principal rules governing FDI are found in the Catalogue of Industries for Guiding Foreign Investment (amended in 2007), which lists specific sectors in which foreign investment is encouraged, restricted, or prohibited. It imposes restrictions on foreign equity ownership in the majority of the sectors covered by the Investing Across Sectors indicators, in particular the service industries.
  3. China’s economic freedom score is 51.2, making its economy the 138th freest in the 2012 Index. Its overall score is 0.8 point lower than last year, reflecting worsening performance in business freedom and government spending. China is ranked 30th out of 41 countries in the Asia–Pacific region, and its overall score is lower than the global and regional averages.

Source: World Bank


Visa Information

Apart from for citizens of Japan, Singapore and Brunei, all visitors to China require a visa. A Chinese visa covers virtually the whole of China, although there are still some restricted areas that require an additional permit from the PSB. Permits are also required for travel to Tibet, an area of China that the authorities can suddenly bar foreigners from entering.
At the time of writing, prices for a standard 30-day visa was US$50 for US citizens and US$30 for citizens of other nations. For double-entry visas, it’s US$75 for US citizens and US$45 for all other nationals. For multiple-entry visas for six months, it’s US$100 for US citizens and US$60 for all other nationals. A standard 30-day single-entry visa can be issued from most Chinese embassies abroad in three to five working days. Express visas cost twice the usual fee.
A 30-day visa is activated on the date you enter China, and must be used within three months of the date of issue. Sixty-day and 90-day travel visas are less likely to be issued, although travellers have reported obtaining them with few problems. You need to extend your visa in China if you want to stay longer.
You normally pay for your visa when you collect it. You can get an application form in person at the embassy or consulate, or obtain one online from a consular website (try – click on About China, then Travel to China and then Visa Information). A visa mailed to you will take up to three weeks. Visa applications require at least one photo (normally 51mm x 51mm).
In some countries (eg the UK and the US), the visa service has been outsourced from the Chinese embassy to a visa-issuing centre, which levies an extra administration fee. In the case of the UK, a single-entry visa costs £35, but the standard administration charge levied by the centre is a further £30. In the US, many people use the China Visa Service Center (In the USA 800 799 6560;, which offers prompt service. The procedure takes around 10 to 14 days.
Hong Kong is still the best place to pick up a visa for China. China Travel Service (CTS) will be able to obtain one for you, or you can apply directly to the Visa Office of the People’s Republic of China (3413 2300; 7th fl, Lower Block, China Resources Centre, 26 Harbour Rd, Wan Chai; 9am-noon & 2-5pm Mon-Fri). Visas processed here in one/two/three days cost HK$400/300/150. Double-entry visas are HK$220, while six-month/one-year multiple-entry visas are HK$400/600 (plus HK$150/250 for express/urgent service). Be aware that American and UK passport holders must pay considerably more for their visas. You must supply two photos, which can be taken at photo booths in the Mass Transit Railway (MTR) or at the visa office for HK$35.
Five-day visas are available at the Luóhú border crossing between Hong Kong and ShÄ“nzhèn. They are valid for ShÄ“nzhèn only, however, and at the time of writing US citizens still had to apply in advance in Hong Kong or already have a visa. Three-day visas are also available at the Macau–ZhÅ«hÇŽi border (MOP$150 for most nationalities, MOP$450 for British) between 8.30am and 10pm. US citizens have to buy a visa in advance in Macau or Hong Kong.
Be aware that political events can suddenly make visas more difficult to procure or renew. In the run-up to the Olympic Games in 2008, restrictions were imposed on certain types of visas; multiple-entry visas were not issued; some travellers were only given seven-day travel visas; extensions became difficult to procure; and other travellers were flatly denied visas. Embassies were also insisting that travellers provided details of their air tickets and accommodation in China.
Similarly, when asked about your itinerary on the application form, try to list standard tourist destinations such as BÄ›ijÄ«ng and Hángzhōu; if you are toying with the idea of going to Tibet or western XÄ«njiāng, just leave it off the form. The list you give is not binding in any way.
When you check into a hotel, there is a question on the registration form asking what type of visa you hold. The letter specifying what type of visa you have is usually stamped on the visa itself. There are eight categories of visa (C – flight attendant, chengwu, D – resident, dingju, F – business or student, fangwen, G – transit, guojìng, J – journalist, jizhe, L – travel, luxing, X – long-term student, liuxue, Z - working, gōngzuò. For most travellers, the type of visa issued is an L.
At the time of writing, most visitors to Hong Kong, including citizens of the EU, Australia, New Zealand, the USA and Canada, could enter and stay for 90 days without a visa. British passport holders get 180 days, while South Africans are allowed to stay 30 days without a visa. If you do require a visa, apply at a Chinese embassy or consulate before arriving. Be aware that if you visit Hong Kong from China, you will need to either have a multiple-entry visa to re-enter China or get a new visa.
Most travellers, including citizens of the EU, Australia, New Zealand, the USA, Canada and South Africa, can enter Macau without a visa for between 30 and 90 days. Most other nationalities can get a 30-day visa on arrival, which will cost MOP$100/50/200 per adult/child under 12/family. If you’re visiting Macau from China and plan to re-enter China, you will need to be on a multiple-entry visa.
Visa extensions
The Foreign Affairs Branch of the local PSB; Gōngānjú) – the police force – deals with visa extensions.
First-time extensions of 30 days are easy to obtain on single-entry tourist visas, but further extensions are harder to get and may only give you another week. Offices of the PSB outside of BÄ›ijÄ«ng may be more lenient and more willing to offer further extensions, but don’t bank on it.
Extensions to single-entry visas vary in price, depending on your nationality. American travellers pay Y185, Canadians Y165, UK citizens Y160 and Australians Y100; prices can go up or down. Expect to wait up to five days for your visa extension to be processed.
The period of extension can differ from city to town. Travellers report generous extensions being decided on the spot in provincial towns and backwaters. If you have used up all your options, popping into Hong Kong to apply for a new tourist visa is a reliable option.
The penalty for overstaying your visa in China is up to Y500 per day. Some travellers have reported having trouble with officials who read the ‘valid until’ date on their visa incorrectly. For a one-month tourist (L) visa, the ‘valid until’ date is the date by which you must enter the country (within three months of the date the visa was issued), not the date upon which your visa expires. Your visa expires the number of days that your visa is valid for after the date of entry into China.
Residence permit
The ‘green card’ is a residence permit, issued to English teachers, foreign expats and long-term students who live in China. Green cards are issued for a period of six months to one year and must be renewed annually. Besides needing all the right paperwork, you (and your spouse) must also pass a health exam (for which there is a charge). Families are automatically included once the permit is issued, but there is a fee for each family member. If you lose your card, you’ll pay a hefty fee to have it replaced.

Business Etiquette

Relationships & Communication
The Chinese don't like doing business with companies they don't know, so working through an intermediary is crucial. This could be an individual or an organization who can make a formal introduction and vouch for the reliability of your company.
Before arriving in China send materials (written in Chinese) that describe your company, its history, and literature about your products and services. The Chinese often use intermediaries to ask questions that they would prefer not to make directly.
Business relationships are built formally after the Chinese get to know you.
Be very patient. It takes a considerable amount of time and is bound up with enormous bureaucracy.
The Chinese see foreigners as representatives of their company rather than as individuals.
Rank is extremely important in business relationships and you must keep rank differences in mind when communicating.
Gender bias is nonexistent in business.
Never lose sight of the fact that communication is official, especially in dealing with someone of higher rank. Treating them too informally, especially in front of their peers, may well ruin a potential deal.
The Chinese prefer face-to-face meetings rather than written or telephonic communication.
Meals and social events are not the place for business discussions. There is a demarcation between business and socializing in China, so try to be careful not to intertwine the two.
Business Meeting Etiquette
Appointments are necessary and, if possible, should be made between one-to-two months in advance, preferably in writing.
If you do not have a contact within the company, use an intermediary to arrange a formal introduction. Once the introduction has been made, you should provide the company with information about your company and what you want to accomplish at the meeting.
You should arrive at meetings on time or slightly early. The Chinese view punctuality as a virtue. Arriving late is an insult and could negatively affect your relationship
Pay great attention to the agenda as each Chinese participant has his or her own agenda that they will attempt to introduce.
Send an agenda before the meeting so your Chinese colleagues have the chance to meet with any technical experts prior to the meeting. Discuss the agenda with your translator/intermediary prior to submission.
Each participant will take an opportunity to dominate the floor for lengthy periods without appearing to say very much of anything that actually contributes to the meeting. Be patient and listen. There could be subtle messages being transmitted that would assist you in allaying fears of on-going association.
Meetings require patience. Mobile phones ring frequently and conversations tend to be boisterous. Never ask the Chinese to turn off their mobile phones as this causes you both to lose face.
Guests are generally escorted to their seats, which are in descending order of rank. Senior people generally sit opposite senior people from the other side.
It is imperative that you bring your own interpreter, especially if you plan to discuss legal or extremely technical concepts as you can brief the interpreter prior to the meeting.
Written material should be available in both English and Chinese, using simplified characters. Be very careful about what is written. Make absolutely certain that written translations are accurate and cannot be misinterpreted.
Visual aids are useful in large meetings and should only be done with black type on white background. Colours have special meanings and if you are not careful, your colour choice could work against you.
Presentations should be detailed and factual and focus on long-term benefits. Be prepared for the presentation to be a challenge.
Business Negotiation
Only senior members of the negotiating team will speak. Designate the most senior person in your group as your spokesman for the introductory functions.
Business negotiations occur at a slow pace.
Be prepared for the agenda to become a jumping off point for other discussions.
Chinese are non-confrontational. They will not overtly say 'no', they will say 'they will think about it' or 'they will see'.
Chinese negotiations are process oriented. They want to determine if relationships can develop to a stage where both parties are comfortable doing business with the other.
Decisions may take a long time, as they require careful review and consideration.
Under no circumstances should you lose your temper or you will lose face and irrevocably damage your relationship.
Do not use high-pressure tactics. You might find yourself outmanoeuvred.
Business is hierarchical. Decisions are unlikely to be made during the meetings you attend.
The Chinese are shrewd negotiators.
Your starting price should leave room for negotiation.
What to Wear?
Business attire is conservative and unpretentious.
Men should wear dark coloured, conservative business suits.
Women should wear conservative business suits or dresses with a high neckline. 
Women should wear flat shoes or shoes with very low heels.
Bright colours should be avoided.
Business Cards
Business cards are exchanged after the initial introduction.
Have one side of your business card translated into Chinese using simplified Chinese characters that are printed in gold ink since gold is an auspicious colour.
Your business card should include your title. If your company is the oldest or largest in your country, that fact should be on your card as well.
Hold the card in both hands when offering it, Chinese side facing the recipient.
Examine a business card before putting it on the table next to you or in a business card case.
Never write on someone's card unless so directed. 

General Business Hours