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Master Chinese Business Culture

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Master Chinese Business Culture

Becoming a China Expert

Qingshun Zou,

15 min read
6 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Doing business in China? This crash course in Chinese history and culture will help smooth your path.

Editorial Rating



  • Applicable
  • For Beginners
  • Insider's Take


Looking to do business in China? Cross-cultural trainer Qingshun Zou advises Westerners to learn the highlights of Chinese history, including its major inventions, cultural touchstones and superstitions. Zou’s pro-China slant is undeniable – particularly when discussing Chinese politics and military intentions. Still, her extensive pointers on Chinese business norms – including how to behave in meetings, negotiations and at meals – will prove invaluable to novice Western businesspeople who hope to find success in China.


Sun Tzu’s 2,500-year-old The Art of War still influences Chinese leaders and people.

Sun Tzu promises that strategists who know themselves and their adversaries can fight 100 battles, yet face no danger. In war or in business, the Chinese emphasize survival and safety over victory, and long-term relationships over conquest. For thousands of years, Chinese generals, leaders and everyday citizens learned Sun Tzu’s philosophies and incorporated his teachings into their lives and work.

In negotiations, as in war, the Chinese follow Sun Tzu’s teachings – practicing discretion, taking their time, learning about their counterparts and granting concessions in areas they pretend to care about to win in areas that matter to them. During a negotiation, only the most senior members of a group speak, but before decisions, the entire group confers. Though the Chinese strive for agreement and mediation – rather than open dispute and conflict – they often revisit the terms of an agreement between the end of a negotiation and the date of signing.

From Sun Tzu’s work, the Chinese extract...

About the Author

Qingshun Zou was born in China and educated in Canada. She leads a training program entitled “Decoding the Chinese business culture” in partnership with the Geneva Business Management University.

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