China Business: The Rules of the Game

China Business: The Rules of the Game

China Business: The Rules of the Game

China Business: The Rules of the Game

Excerpt

On a beautiful autumn day in Beijing I accompanied a coffee importer, an expatriate, on his rounds to collect outstanding debts. We set off in his authentic Beijing Jeep—that fine example of Chinese socialist engineering. The chaotic traffic necessitated many gear changes and they were all rough. We visited numerous coffee bars, at all of which there was a long discussion with the owners: they would pay their accountsif he fixed their broken toilets, orif he provided and installed a new coffee machine, or … There was always an ‘if … then …’. Most hadn't paid their bills in six months. In a couple of the coffee bars, we came across the representatives of big international beer companies who also were trying to extract what they'd been owed for six months.

On one occasion my friend emerged triumphantly from the discussion with a cheque, only to discover later that it had been back-dated. Chinese banks won't honour a cheque that is more than 30 days old, which meant that he would have to retrace his steps to that coffee bar and begin the negotiation anew. After a day spent in ‘cherchez le cheque’, my coffee importer friend was no better off financially, and I had had my bones rattled to death by his old Jeep.

In this story we are face-to-face with some of the realities of China for Western expatriates. The Beijing Jeep symbolises the old Chinese technologies—outdated . . .

Author Advanced search

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.