Business in China - 006 A change for US Corporate rules

At some point in China you will be given a paper bag full of US $100 bills. It happens to almost anyone who the manufacturer considers important to the continuation of the partnership.

Don’t try to give the money back because I have never seen Chinese get so angry.

This of course puts you in a bad position because your US company considers you to have taken a bribe.

What I tell US companies to do is to change the rules so that the employee can bring the money into the office and have it placed in a manufactures discount account, which should be in the companies official budget.

I know some people might pocket the money I see most people very upset with the bad position they have been put in and would prefer a legal method of solution.

maybe it can considered an ‘angpow’ or ‘hongbao’ a normal part of local culture rather than a bribe per se? and yes the idea of putting it in a fund makes sense

Hello Tim,

Thank You so much for Your recent posts. It’s this kind
of information, that makes this board so useful beyond

What You describe here is business best practice and
useful not only if you are in China.

It would be even better, if I ever had that problem myself.
(on a daily basis ?)

All the best

yours mo-i

even if you change its name, it still sounds like a bribe to me.

It is always interesting to read Designers experiences with China.
When I was first invited to live and work in China my first meeting started with someone wanting money to “open doors for me”. I smiled, said no and continued on. Turned out his estimation of his influence was vastly overated, though that isn’t the point.

That was back in 2001. No one ever wanted a bribe or offerred me one after that and to this day I have the respect of my Chinese friends, colleagues, clients and officials I worked with.

China is very much about who you are and how you deal with its depth of culture. So great are the challenges to your own culture that it can quickly overwhelm you if you do not know who you are and why. “Guangxi” or “relationships” are important, but Ive never had a good relationship that wasn’t based on respect.
I read earlier that relationships in China are not just about business. That is absolutely correct and it is impossible that it can ever be otherwise. It is deep rooted, is not regional and will not change with a single generation.

I love China and bribes aside, the essential value they place upon closeness is something I would not want to see change. Chinese value friends, they value our attempts at trying to understand them and they value trust like nothing else.

患難見真情 。( basically: “Only adversities reveal true friends” )

In the twenty + years I’ve been traveling to China no one has ever tried to slip me a bribe. Plenty of food, booze and karaoke, but no cold hard cash.

I’m not sure what I would have done. Interesting ethical conundrum.

Bribes and under the table payments are a way of life here and there is a mentality that there is nothing wrong with it, only that getting caught is stupid. Basically its not about accepting it or not (due to right and wrong) but rather assessing whether or not you are up to the task of not getting caught. Its also accepted as a normal part of business. I once had an employee who told me that while he liked me and admired me, there was no way that I could be honest since I am a businessman. (IE its impossible to be honest AND be in business)

A HUGE portion the population thinks this way, though that’s not to say that everyone is the same. There is the other mindset that this is “low class / bad taste.” In Chinese you call it “suzhi tai di.” Though interestingly enough even this doesn’t really speak to the issue of “right and wrong.”

One way I have heard of handling it is that it goes into a departmental “pot” which is then divided up and used monthly on staff events and parties - with the staff themselves deciding on how it gets used. Which means if they want a trip to the spa - they get it.