The Negotiation Process in China

Cross cultural communication in international negotiations - advice regarding the negotiation process in China

By — on / International Negotiation

negotiation process

With its booming economy and growing international consumer influence, the role of negotiation in international business is more important than ever and negotiation skills appropriate for China are in high-demand. Here are a few negotiation tips to help you successfully navigate the negotiation process in China.

Reciprocity is an important feature of negotiations around the world but particularly so in the People’s Republic of China. Build relationships but expect to incur obligations as well. Make sure to build relationships with your counterparts in constructive ways that both honor her need for a reciprocal understanding of the business relationship while also creating value and securing the most optimal negotiated agreement for your organization possible.

Don’t depend on only contracts, which serve more to establish a relationship than to specify all future contingencies. Communication in international business is important but even more so when the negotiated agreement is vague on the specifics. Read more about the importance of Guanxi when negotiating in China.

Negotiation Strategy 1: Take your time.

Lasting deals aren’t negotiated in days or weeks but in months and years.

Negotiation Strategy 2: Make high-level contacts.

To find negotiators who are flexible and practical, reach out to those in positions of authority whenever possible.

Negotiation Strategy 3: Avoid the gold rush mentality.

Make sure you’re committing to a deal that truly will benefit you and your organization.

Finally, continue to develop your best alternative to a negotiated agreement or BATNA. The only surefire antidote to hardball negotiation tactics is a strong, secure outside option away from the bargaining table.

What are your thoughts on the negotiation process in China? We love to hear from our readers. Leave a comment below to let us know what you think.

Related International Negotiation Article: Negotiation in China: The Importance of Guanxi– Relationships in negotiation are critical in China

Overcoming Cultural Barriers in Negotiation: China and the Gold Rush Mentality – The importance of communication in business with international clients hinges on both effective negotiation techniques and a cultural understanding of your counterpart

Adapted from During the Gold Rush: Negotiating in China for the Negotiation newsletter by Ray Friedman.

Originally published June 2013.

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3 Responses to “The Negotiation Process in China”

  • Francis R.

    In my experience, the negotiation in China is far more complex than what I’ve seen elsewhere. It takes a long time to understand the motivations and specific needs that are behind the demands of the Chinese. In some cases, requests just do not seem to make sense if you don’t dig deeper. But when you make the effort of understanding, and try to meet them half-way when you do, you are solidifying trust and a long-term relationship. That can be acheived only if regular face-to-face meetings occur.

  • Andy V.

    I’m interested in the converse — advice for the international community for how to negotiate with Americans.

  • Tony E.

    THE negotiation process in China? A better heading would be ‘The Multiplicity and Complexity of Negotiation Processes in China’.


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