Aligning Your Government Relationships

One of the most challenging notions for foreign companies to grasp is the need to manage your network of government relationships. For small companies, it’s pretty easy to manage. For mid-tier and larger companies, this is no easy task. But don’t get too hung up on the complexities of it all. This section can help you understand the way you need to operate at certain levels within government circles.

Taking the bottom-up approach for smaller firms

For a small foreign company that’s likely operating in one location, take a bottom-up approach to developing relationships with government officials. You’ll likely be working with more junior people in the government ranks when you first get started in China. Over time, you eventually want to make connections to the highest level of the local government. Usually, this highest level is the mayor of the city or town where you’re establishing your business. Meeting the local officials and getting alongside them is the right thing to do.

You’re likely not obliged to follow the formal protocols you’d likely find at the higher levels of the Chinese government, so be sure your team on the ground makes an effort to socialize with these contacts outside of the usual business activities. This activity may be banqueting or a night out drinking with your Chinese government contacts. In some places in China today, it may even be a round of golf.

Meeting in the middle: Managing multiple levels of government ...

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