China is the largest manufacturing hub in the world, which is why so many businesses outsource their manufacturing needs to the region. This has made it a popular market, with companies from all over the world trying to get a foothold in the Chinese market. Because of this, it can often be difficult to gain any significant portion of market share while competing with the influx of new businesses.
When doing business in China, do not expect to get to negotiations quickly. The Chinese prefer to build personal relationships before getting into making business deals. Because of this much of business is conducted over meals, as it is in many other Asian countries. Toasts are common during meals, and it is customary for both sides to make toasts.
When dining, it is polite to accept at least a little bit of each dish you are offered. If you do not like something, it is acceptable to push it to the side of your plate. Always wait for your host to begin eating or drinking before you do.
When conducting meetings at an office, you should expect to be introduced to everyone involved, in descending order of importance. Show particular respect for older individuals, as the Chinese revere their elders. It is acceptable to bring a small, inexpensive gift for your host. Choose something with an Australian theme, and wrap it in red, yellow or gold, as these colours are believed to bring good luck. Don't expect your host to open the gift in front of you, though.
The exchange of business cards is a key component of conducting business in China. Have yours translated to have English on one side and Chinese on the other. Always hold your card with both hands when presenting it, and display it with the Chinese side facing up. It is considered respectful to read business cards you are given before putting them away.
Handshakes are the customary greeting for anyone in a business setting in China. Remember that the Chinese use their surnames, followed by their first names. Keep this in mind when calling someone Mr or Ms.
Business hours in China typically run from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, although many close for lunch between 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. Shops usually remain open until 8:00 p.m. every day, including most public holidays. However, do not expect to get any business done around Chinese New Year, typically celebrated in January or February, depending on the lunar calendar. Despite the fact that China spans five different time zones, the entire country operates on the standard time in Beijing. This falls two hours behind Australia's eastern time zone.
Chinese currency is called Renminbi and is measured in yuan. The yuan is broken into 10 jiao, which is further broken down into 10 fen.
Because China is such a large country spanning a variety of different regions, the climate varies depending on where you are. Search for your specific destination online to get more accurate information about the climate where you are headed.
China's electricity is 220 volts, 60Hz, although some hotels also have 110-volt connections. Outlets vary widely, so it is recommended that you bring a multiple international adapter to ensure you have the plug you need.
All foreign travellers to China must obtain a visa from their local Chinese Embassy or Consulate. In order to get the visa, you must have a valid passport with at least six months remaining before expiry, tickets purchased for travel out of China, and two recent passport-sized photos. To obtain an F visa, the type required for business travellers, you must present an invitation letter. The visa will enable you to stay in China for a period of up to six months and is only good for a single entry.
When flying into China, you will likely use one of the country's three primary international airports: Beijing Capital Airport, Shanghai Pudong International Airport, and Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport. From all of these airports, taxis are the easiest method of transport. Stay away from any rides offered within the airport terminal, instead getting a taxi from the official taxi ranks outside. Always ask the driver to turn on the meter, and be sure to get a receipt. Buses are also available, furnished by many of the major hotels. Check with your hotel to see if you have this option.
For getting around the cities, taxis are still your best option, but keep in mind that most taxi drivers do not speak English. It usually helps to have your destination address written down in Chinese characters, or you can ask your hotel to hire you a car with an English-speaking driver. Traffic tends to get very congested during peak hours and during lunch and dinner times.
Tipping is not customary, but it is accepted in most places. For the most part, it is not necessary to tip in restaurants, but it is common to tip hotel staff members who assist you with your luggage. The amount you choose to tip should be based on the level of service you receive and is never expected.
Hotels in China run the gamut from low-end budget hotels to luxurious resorts with all the modern amenities. Check the area you are travelling to and peruse the different service offerings at each hotel, as they all offer varying levels of service and amenities.
Restaurants in China range from street food to fine-dining establishments, so you are sure to find something to suit your budget. Rice and noodles are the major staples in Chinese dishes. Pork is the most common protein and is found in many dishes. Ginger, garlic and coriander are common flavouring agents in Chinese food.
Because China is such a vast and varied country, it would be unwieldy to try to list tourist attractions here. Before you travel to China, research the area you will be visiting to get a sense of what that area has to offer in terms of cultural, architectural and visual attractions.