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China: Doning business and staying in touch

Doing Business in China

Suits should be worn for business visits. Appointments should be made in advance and punctuality is expected. Business cards should be printed with a Chinese translation on the reverse and should be presented with both hands, while cards received should be studied and perhaps commented on. It is rude to put a business card directly into a pocket without giving it due attention, and a cardinal sin to put it in a back pocket. Business meals can last for several hours, and international visitors may well be expected to drink numerous toasts.

Office Hours

Mon-Fri 0900-1800, midday break of one hour.

Economy

China is now the world's second largest economy behind the USA, and has seen rapid and consistent growth since starting economic reforms in the 1980s. GDP growth has averaged 10% per year for the past decade. However, in recent years the pace of growth has slowed noticeably, with GDP growth of 7.8% in 2012, in part due to the precarious financial situation in Europe.

There is a significant industrial base with pockets of advanced manufacturing and high-technology enterprises, concentrated on the eastern coast and the Pearl River Delta, including Special Administrative Regions such as Hong Kong and Macau. Massive engineering schemes include the Three Gorges Dam hydro-electric project.

With huge disparities between the prosperous coastal cities and the socially and economically less developed inland areas, there has been a major population shift from the countryside to cities; in 2011 over 250m citizens had moved from the countryside into the cities.

China is the world's largest rice producer and a major producer of cereals and grain. Large mineral deposits, particularly coal and iron ore, underpin an extensive steel industry. China has its own petrochemicals industry, but increasingly imports large quantities of oil and gas.

China joined the World Trade Organisation in 2001. In 2005, its central bank removed the US-Dollar peg for the Yuan, tying it instead to a basket of international currencies. Ever since, the Chinese currency has appreciated at a brisk, albeit strictly managed, pace, though it is still not fully convertible on foreign markets.
China hosts numerous international conventions each year, holding them in extensive facilities in Beijing, Shanghai and other major cities including Guangzhou, Xiamen, Chengdu, Xi'an and Kunming.

GDP

US$8.3 trillion (2012).

Main exports

Machinery and data processing equipment, textiles, apparel, textiles, integrated circuits.

Main imports

Machinery and equipment, oil and mineral fuels, motor vehicles, metal ores.

Main trading partners

USA, European Union, Hong Kong (SAR), Japan and South Korea

Keeping in Touch in China

Telephone

Public telephones are becoming harder to locate - your best bets are in post offices and at roadside kiosks. There is a three-minute minimum charge for international calls. The cheapest way to call internationally is to buy a pre-paid calling card, available from most convenience stores and in hotels in units of ¥20, 50, 100 and 200. Skype is a further option.

Mobile Phone

China has the most mobile phone users in the world, backed by a very sophisticated mobile communications system that now covers the entire country. Roaming agreements exist with most major international mobile phone companies. Alternatively, you can buy a prepaid GSM SIM card (from China Mobile Ltd stores) that allows you to use your mobile like a local phone with a new number. You'll need your passport to register.

Internet

Internet cafés can be found in most towns and cities, and Wi-Fi is increasingly available at hotels and cafés in Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Tianjin, Hangzhou and other major cities. Access is cheap and usually reliable. The state routinely blocks access to sites run by the banned spiritual movement Falun Gong, rights groups, Western social networking sites and some foreign news organisations. Postings by bloggers are closely monitored.

Media

China's media is tightly controlled by the country's leadership. The industry has been opened up in the areas of distribution and advertising but not in editorial content. Access to foreign news providers is limited and re-broadcasting and the use of satellite receivers is restricted; shortwave radio broadcasts are jammed and websites are blocked. In general, the press report on corruption and inefficiency among officials, but the media avoids criticism of the Communist Party's monopoly on power. Hong Kong so far has largely retained an editorially free media. Each city has its own newspaper, usually published by the local government, as well as a local Communist Party daily. All foreign-made TV programmes are subject to approval before broadcast. The People’s Daily is the official newspaper of the Communist Party, whilst Reference News is the paper with the largest circulation. The largest English-language newspapers is China Daily.

Post

Service to Europe takes from between two days and one week. Tourist hotels usually have their own post offices. All postal communications to China should be addressed 'People's Republic of China'.

Post Office hours

Mon-Fri 0800-1900.

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