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Doing Business in China

Chinese people traditionally do business on the basis of mutual trust, rather than written contracts, so it is important to gain the trust of key people. Creating a favourable impression in China depends largely on exhibiting common courtesy, respect and a degree of modesty.

Market Key Facts

Key Source Regions/Cities

Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou

Direct Routes into New Zealand

Shanghai - Auckland
Guangzhou - Auckland


Air New Zealand, China Southern Airlines

Leave Entitlement

5-15 days per annum


1,349,585,838 (July 2013 est.)


Standard Chinese or Mandarin (Putonghua, based on the Beijing dialect), Yue (Cantonese), Wu (Shanghainese), Minbei (Fuzhou), Minnan (Hokkien-Taiwanese), Xiang, Gan, Hakka dialects, minority languages


Renminbi (RMB)/Yuan (CNY)
1 RMB/CNY = 10 jiao

Total Outbound Travellers

109 million (2014)

Peak Booking Periods

Late August - September for October National Holiday
Late November, December, January for Chinese New Year

Peak Travel Periods

November - February

Data source: CIA World Factbook (Currency, Population, Language)

Doing Business in China

  • The Chinese do not react favourably to raised voices. Be reserved and tactful. When seated, it is good manners to place your hands in your lap.

  • Visibly acknowledge the presence of older people and show additional courtesy. Asian cultures have a particular regard for those older than themselves. Surnames are placed first in Chinese. Mr Chan Kah Kee is therefore addressed as 'Mr Chan'. A handshake is the normal greeting for men and women.

  • Business cards should be received and presented with both hands. It is also a sign of respect to keep hold of the card, not put it away immediately in your pocket or holder.

  • A great deal of business in China, as in the rest of Asia, is conducted after hours, over dinner or karaoke. It is appropriate to give small gifts such as New Zealand products like greenstone or woodcarvings.

  • 'Yes' means only that the listener has heard you. A positive statement that confirms 'yes', to mean 'I agree', must follow it. Directly confronting someone about having made a mistake is not the best way to proceed. Talk around the subject, allowing them to save face. Establishing rapport or relationships ("guanxi") is important for doing business in China.

Want to know more about doing business in China?

Visit the New Zealand Trade & Enterprise website.