"Lottery ticket purchase cortex" = Nice one!
Not to undermine the point of the thread, but I wonder if one is better off securing funding and handling up-front business issues in the West, then coming to East Asia/China strictly for final manufacturing/assembly and just paying them as a vendor? I understand this is the "old fashioned" way; Nike, for example; but I think it is still a relevant approach. Why? A number of related factors:
• Chinese are notoriously risk-averse.
Especially if your product/idea is remotely innovative or different than what is the current dominant seller, you will have trouble finding support there to fund something or for a partner there to assume some of the financial risk with you. Benchmarking, "me-too" products, copying, ripping-off; whatever you want to call it; these approaches are common in Chinese culture because they are perceived as lowering risk.
• Chinese focus on the tangible.
Giving them money to make something is "tangible" to them. Having a finished working prototype or bringing them tooling is somewhat tangible. However, showing them an idea, a rendering, some research data, a strategy, or paperwork alone describing intent from distant distributors/retailers is not as tangible to them and likely will not get you very far very fast.
• Chinese are "collectivists".
They only trust and help the "in-group" and those that have long-term connections with the in-group. If you are coming from somewhere else and asking for something, good luck! Long-term relationships, Guanxi, blah blah blah.
• Chinese do not respect the concept of intellectual property. (Obvious!)
There is little protection for you and your product there. And involving Chinese early in the process and sharing everything with your partner/investor along the way only exposes you to more risk. If you've got something successful/profitable, you'll get ripped off either way; but better to get ripped off later than sooner!
• Chinese see "win-lose" in business, not "win-win".*
*While the other items above are pretty well-documented and will probably ring true to most with experience in this culture, this one may be more of a personal opinion? In most negotiations and partnerships in the West, I think both parties can approach them thinking generally positively. Thinking that the pie will be big enough to share, hoping that the pie will expand, and believing that one partner's success can be good for the other partner. "Grow together". While this may work sometimes within extreme "in-groups" (families, for example) in China, I think the norm is for parties to harbour a "win-lose" attitude; believe that one person's gain is the other's loss; the pie is limited and every piece you get is one less piece for me. Kiasu, blah blah blah. So the question is, do you really think you will "win" in a relationship with Chinese? (or vs Chinese!)
(I wonder what others with experience in the region think of this observation?)
I suppose it's not impossible to get a reliable Chinese company/partners to help start and finance your project, and I don't want to sound discouraging; but given the tendencies mentioned above, I can't help but think taking care of the up-front business issues at home in the West (where you are more familiar with the quirks and faults of the locals and their perhaps equally flawed system) is still the best option for most.