Americans doing Business in China – Part 6/16

February 26, 2012

Note from Blog host — another example of East meets West through business and trade: Molly McMillan of McClatchy newspapers, reported, “In the past year, China has been ‘snapping up’ U.S. general aviation companies, including a recent deal to buy cash-strapped Cirrus Aircraft… In buying up established companies, China gets the management know-how, brand, distribution, technology in days, not decades,” said Brian Foley, with Brian Foley Associates.

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Guest Post by Bob Grant — publisher/editor for Speak Without Interruption, an international online magazine.

About any time, day or night, in major Chinese cities you can see any type of vehicle transporting all imaginable products on the roads. There are trucks carrying ocean containers and Mercedes carrying people. I have traveled to England, Ireland, Holland, Italy, Canada, Mexico, Indonesia, Malaysia, Korea, and China. I would not call myself a “world traveler” but, of all the countries in which I have traveled, I found China to be the most diverse in terms of the types of vehicles that transported goods on their roads.

Regardless of where my travels took me in China—rural or city—there were always a lot of people transporting goods in any type of vehicle that could move on its own, by animal, or under human power. The fact that people were busy working was not of particular note. It was the diversity of their means of transportation within a single view that was of interest to me. Also, they all seemed to move with purpose—whether carrying large or small items. I suppose that is really not so different than any other parts of the world—for some reason it just struck me as another admirable quality of the Chinese people.

Most of the smaller commercial trucks are blue—I have no idea why? I asked a couple of times but really did not receive an answer. Maybe there was a sale on blue paint? I am certain there is a reason, but since I don’t know it, I can’t share it with you—rather just make reference to it.

I will say that with all those vehicles on the road it did add to the air pollution. In most states in the U.S., vehicles have to pass safety inspections before they can be licensed. I am not certain this is a rule in China—if it can move it is road ready.

In my travels inside China for business, I found the Chinese to be very capitalistic in nature—certainly contrary to how I viewed the Chinese people prior to me actually visiting the country. The diversity in the means of transporting their goods is just one example of this fact at least in my mind.

Note from Blog host – If you plan to do business in China, I recommend visiting the China Law Blog first.

Continued February 27, 2012 in Americans doing Business in China – Part 7 (a guest post) or return to Part 5

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Note: This guest post first appeared on February 22, 2010


Americans Doing Business in China – Part 4/16

February 24, 2012

Note from Blog host — another example of East meets West through business and trade: On October 22, 2004, according to the Associated Press, “The beer is flowing, John Fogerty is singing on the stereo and six scantily clad young Chinese women are doing the hokey-pokey. Hooters in Shanghai is open for business.”

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Guest Post by Bob Grant — publisher/editor for Speak Without Interruption, an international online magazine.

I have been traveling to China since 1998. I would not consider myself a seasoned traveler to that country—making around twenty-five visits total. When I traveled there, I usually stayed between one and two weeks. Never during any of my visits did I ever see or meet a “Red” Chinese person. I saw no one wearing an “I am a Communist” sweatshirt, ball cap, t-shirt, sunglasses, button or anything else physically labeling them a Communist. I saw no street banners, bumper stickers, storefront displays, mass gatherings or any other public notice that I was among Communists. What I was among were just people—regular people.

All of my visits were for business purposes. I met with business people only and traveled to see their factories or offices. I did not take much time to “sightsee” which was a mistake in retrospect.

With my business, I tended to visit locations where I was the “only” non-Chinese person within miles. I never felt threatened or out of place. No one ever stared at me or pointed—“Look at that non-Communist person.”

I found “most” of the people with whom I came in contact during both business meetings and other activities to be very pleasant, warm, humble, honorable, respectful and charming. I will have to admit that I did have some dealings with business people who were other than honest; however, China does not hold a monopoly on those types of business people. As a rule, I found the Chinese people with whom I had my dealings to be extremely hard working, dedicated and honest.

I had no fear going out on my own in any part of China that I visited day or night. I was never threatened or accosted in any manner.

One day I was walking around a city on a Sunday afternoon—alone. I felt a tug on my shirtsleeve and turned to find two young girls at my side. One asked me if they could speak with me—in good English. I did not suspect their reasons for talking with me to be anything other than honorable, so I said, “Sure.”

The girls were students at the university and their English professor had given them an assignment to stop, interview and take a photo with any “Westerner”. They said they had been looking for hours and I was the only “Westerner” they had seen. I was happy to answer their questions—one of the girls took my photo with the other girl. They thanked me, and went on their way. These were just two young students with an assignment, and I felt honored that I was able to help them complete it.

Perhaps I am being a bit naive—I was obviously around Communists during my visits to China, but I never felt that I had really “met” one. I had been fortunate enough to meet people from another country and culture, and they had accepted me at face value. I enjoyed each one of my visits to China and care a great deal for China and its people.

I truly believe if people could meet and work with other people around the world that many of the world’s problems would be solved. Perhaps this is a bit Pollyanna of me but this is how I see things from my myopic point of view and experiences, with China and its people, and I will stand by them.

Note from Blog host – If you plan to do business in China, I recommend visiting the China Law Blog first.

Continued February 25, 2012 in Americans doing Business in China – Part 5 (a guest post) or return to Part 3

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Note: This guest post first appeared on February 17, 2010


Americans doing Business in China – Part 2/16

February 22, 2012

Note from Blog host — an example of East meets West through business and trade: General Motors and Ford captured four spots among China’s best-selling passenger cars in 2011, with the Buick Excelle commanding top spot with sales of 253,514 units. Source: Inside Line.com

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Guest Post by Bob Grant — publisher/editor for Speak Without Interruption, an international online magazine.

I have been traveling to China since 1998 and had a business and personal relationship there since 2003. I have a business that is based on these relationships built up over the years—they continue today.

I am not a young man—but even at 64, I know that the relationships I have made there are once in a lifetime treasures. I have found China and its people to be nothing like they are portrayed in the media.

I will—as best I can recall — write about specific experiences and places, I have visited. Unfortunately, the original computer that I had when I started my China business fried its hard drive, and although I was warned, I never backed up my material so I have lost many excellent photos. However, I have enough remaining pictures to tell a story or two.

One of our US government officials reportedly made a comment with the word “retarded” in it.  There was also an attempt to make a joke using “Special Olympics” on a TV show in the past.  Why do people say the things they do?  Why have I said some of things I have said?  When I have made comments at the expense of others, I thought either it was funny or it made me feel important in some perverse way.  As I have gotten older, experience has taught me to think before I speak—at least a little more than I did in my younger years.  What someone says as a casual statement—or an attempt to make a joke—can offend others on a multitude of levels.

There are a little over 1.3 billion people in China from the figures I have seen.  I have had people say to me, “With that many people, how do you tell them apart?  They all look alike.”

After having an association with specific Chinese people since 1998, I take great offense when someone says something like this to my face or within earshot.  To me, they do not all look alike.  They may all have similar physical features but I see each person I have met in my business dealings as a singular and unique individual just as I would feel about anyone I met throughout the world.  As you meet people—speak with them—get to know them, I think everyone has personal features, mannerisms, personalities that make them different from other people in the world.

In terms of my feelings for China, and its people, it is only based on those who I have met personally.  As I view it, there are values that I have found all Chinese possess—the reverence of  family and respect for their elders.  I wish these values were more evident in the US.

With 1.3 billion people milling around China, how can they have these values when there are so many of them?  I once worked with a product that was to replace the toxic cleaner Nitric Acid.  In most instances, the shipping tanks in the ocean liners have to be cleaned out after they are emptied.

They send “Chinese People” into these tanks to spray them out.  One contact actually said, “There are so many Chinese that when one dies from being exposed to the Nitric Acid there are a million more to take their place.”  It was all I could do to keep my hands from going around his neck or punching his lights out — being older at the time, I felt he was not worth the hassle.

I believe the respect for family—and elders—in China is not something just confined to my small group of acquaintances there.  I think this is something that is countrywide, and I feel this is a virtue beyond description.  During one of my visits, my friend and primary associate invited me to a party to honor his new young son.

We held this event in a large, private room within a very nice restaurant.  There were many people there, and as I have written regarding other situations, I was again the only non-Chinese in the room.  I felt completely at ease and extremely honored he would invite me to such an important “family event”.  The photo above shows me with my associate, his wife, his mother, and his new young son. I did, and still do, feel like part of their family.  To me they remain friends, family and associates, and they “certainly” do not all look alike to me!

Note from Blog host – If you plan to do business in China, I recommend visiting the China Law Blog first.

Continued February 23, 2012 in Americans doing Business in China – Part 3 (a guest post) or return to Part 1

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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 Note: This guest post first appeared on February 12, 2010


Spinning a Web – Part 2/2

August 17, 2011

Since The Opium War by Julia Lovell will not be released until September 2011, I do not know if Ms. Lovell will provide a balance in what she writes.

However, we could find citizens of any country willing “for a fee of course” to sell out their government and people. Why should some Chinese be any different, or are the Chinese judged by a different standard?

It will be interesting if Lovell mentions the Taiping Rebellion, which was one of the bloodiest civil wars in history between the Manchu dominated Qing Dynasty and millions of Christian, Han Chinese rebels led by Hong Xiuquan.

The Taipings had three goals: defeat and replace the Manchu rulers of China, rid China of Opium, and spread Christianity.

It is estimated that The Taiping Rebellion (1845 – 1864) saw about 20 million Chinese killed and the Taipings were not the only Chinese rebelling against the Manchu rulers of China.

For an example of some people willing to do anything “for a fee of course”, a United Nations publication of 1998, “Economic and Social Consequences of Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking,” says,”With estimates of $100 billion to $110 billion for heroin, $110 billion to $130 billion for cocaine, $75 billion for cannabis and $60 billion for synthetic drugs, the probable global figure for the total illicit drug industry would be approximately $360 billion. Given the conservative bias in some of the estimates for individual substances, a turnover of around $400 billion per annum is considered realistic.” Source: World Statistics Updated in Real Time

In addition, in the American media, we often hear of the Mexican and Columbian Drug Cartels but seldom do we hear that if it were not for Americans doing the same thing that some Chinese did during the Opium Wars, it would be difficult and/or impossible to sell illegal drugs to Americans.

In the US, distribution and the sale of drugs are mostly conducted by extremely violent, nationally affiliated American street gangs.

Justice.gov says, “Street gangs, outlaw motorcycle gangs, and prison gangs are the primary distributors of illegal drugs on the streets of the United States. Gangs also smuggle drugs into the United States and produce and transport drugs within the country.

“There are at least 21,500 gangs and more than 731,000 active gang members in the United States. Gangs conduct criminal activity in all 50 states and U.S. territories.”

Just because some Chinese cooperated and worked with the British, French and Americans (among other countries) that were selling illegal drugs to the Chinese people during the Opium Wars, that doesn’t mean that all Chinese were guilty. I hope Ms. Lovell makes that clear.

Return to or start with Spinning a Web – Part 1

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.


Ten Days out of the Middle Kingdom

July 7, 2011

On April 18, The New Yorker published The Grand Tour, a long piece about ordinary Chinese pouring out of China and visiting the world as tourists a few days at a time and Europe is the most popular destination.

Evan Osnos, The New Yorker’s correspondent in China, where he has lived since 2005, wrote the piece.

To research it, Osnos joined a “Classic European” Chinese bus tour that would “traverse five countries in ten days”.  He was the only non-Chinese, and the 38 members of the tour ranged in age from six to seventy.

At 16 printed pages, it took me two sittings to read The Grand Tour, but I found it to be worth my time to learn how serious China is about joining the global community.

However, this transition did not come about easily.

An ancient Chinese proverb says, “You can be comfortable at home for a thousand days, or step out the door and run right into trouble.” Then Confucius threw guilt into the mix when he taught, “While your parents are alive, it is better not to travel far away.”

In fact, in the famous letter that Emperor Qianlong wrote to King George of Britain in 1793, he indicated there was no desire to have foreigners visit or live in China or for the Chinese to leave. “As your Ambassador can see for himself, we possess all things. I set no value on objects strange or ingenious, and have no use for your country’s manufactures.… The distinction between Chinese and barbarian is most strict, and your Ambassador’s request that barbarians shall be given full liberty to disseminate their religion is utterly unreasonable.”

In addition, Osnos said, Mao considered tourism anti-Socialist, so it wasn’t until 1978, a few years after his death, that Chinese started to gain approval to travel to other countries, and in 1997 the government allowed Chinese tourists to visit other counties in a “planned, organized and controlled manner”.

Thirteen years later in 2010, “Fifty-seven million Chinese traveled outside China,” Osnos wrote, “ranking China third worldwide in international tourism.”

During the tour, the first stop was in the modest German city of Trier, which the Chinese language guidebook described as the “Mecca of the Chinese people”.  Trier was the birthplace of Karl Marx, and there was an early morning photo opportunity in front of the house where Marx was born.

In one conversation with another member of the tour, Osnos learns what Chinese think of the Marxist revolutionary ideas that ruled the country under Mao from 1949 to 1978. “We spent thirty years on what we now know was a disaster,” one of the Chinese tourists said.

As for middle class Chinese wanting to leave China to live in other countries, think again. In another conversation in the Swiss town of Interlaken, Osnos heard, “Other than different buildings, the Seine didn’t look all that different from the Huangpu (river in Shanghai). Subway? We have a subway. You name it, we’ve got it.”

A Chinese sanitation engineer on the tour could not help but notice in Milan, Italy the abundant graffiti and overstuffed trash bins. His comment, “If it was like this in Shanghai, old folks would be calling us all afternoon to complain.”

If you want to discover more of how Chinese see the world and what they do as tourists outside China , I suggest spending time reading The Grand Tour.  As I said earlier, it was worth my time.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.


The Importance of Guanxi to Chinese Civilization

May 23, 2011

In lieu of a Western style legal system for most of China’s history, Guanxi offered an alternative to foster innovation, develop trust and contribute to trade and commerce for thousands of years.

Sir Robert Hart (1835 – 1911), the godfather of China’s modernization and the main character of my first two historical fiction novels, discovered the importance of Guanxi soon after he left the employ of the British and went to work for the Emperor.

He quickly learned that a “supreme value of loyalty glued together China’s structure of personal relationships.” Source: Entering China’s Service

In addition, Hart wrote in a letter in 1891, “These people (referring to the Chinese) never act too soon, and, so far, I have not known of their losing anything by being late. To glide naturally, easily and seasonably into the safe position sequence as circumstances make, is probably a sounder though less heroic policy for a state than to be forever experimenting—”

To translate, it takes time to develop a relationship/friendship/trust (Guanxi) that all invovled may benefit from.


Warning: This is a Promotional Video. However, it offers a perspective on Guanxi worth seeing.

However, I did not learn about Guanxi from Robert Hart. I first learned of it from the China Law Blog, which quoted the Silicon Hutong Blog.

Then I did more research and watched a few videos on the subject. I learned that Guanxi is one of those complexities of Chinese
culture that does not translate easily.

There are several elements and layers to Guanxi. First, Guanxi is based on a Confucian hierarchy of familial relationships, long-term friendships, classmates, and schoolmates and to those no stranger – Chinese or foreign – will ever have access. Source: Silicon Hutong

Guanxi developed over millennia because China did not have a stable and effective legal system as it developed in the West.

In fact, the legal system in China today is relatively new and made its appearance after the 1982 Chinese Constitution became the law of the land.

Since 1982, there have been several amendments to the Constitution as China adapts its evolving legal system, which was modeled after the German legal system.

In time, this Western influenced legal system may replace Guanxi since business law modeled on Western law with Chinese characteristic has developed faster than civil law.

There are a several opinions about Guanxi. I learned that Guanxi is similar to a gate that opens to a network of human beings but it isn’t that simple.

Maintaining Guanxi is different than how relationships are maintained in other cultures. The embedded videos with this post offer a more detailed explanation.

The China Law Blog copied the post from the Silicon Hutong Blog. The post on the China Law Blog had more than twenty comments and it was a lively discussion worth reading if you are interested in discovering more.

Learn more of Chinese Culture from The Mental and Emotional State of “Face”

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

To subscribe to iLook China, use the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.

This revised and edited post first appeared here on October 18, 2010 as Guanxi in China


China’s Fast Track Growth

February 13, 2010

Here’s more evidence that Robert Hart and Jack London were right when they predicted that China would be a super power again. These two Western men spent time in China, got to know the culture and realized the potential of the Chinese people.

Bullet trains, something the United States doesn’t have due to the national debt and partisanship between political parties more interested in who packs the pork barrel than running the country efficiently, have raced into China providing jobs for hundreds of thousands of Chinese and a faster, fuel efficient way to get around.

With the Lunar New Year and more Chinese traveling home than the population of Russia, another, fast, energy efficient means of public transportation was needed.  When the economy collapsed under President George W. Bush due to real estate, banks and Wall Street greed, the Democrats and Republican’s started pointing fingers at each other and throwing more debt around.

In China, where debt does not rule and the savings rate is 40%, instead of arguing and tossing blame about, the Chinese started working. Is this evidence that one political party is more efficient than two?

My thanks to Ian Carter for bringing the Chinese bullet trains to my attention–visit his Blog to “see” more of China, or discover why China is Studying Singapore

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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