Former President of Airbus China, Guy McLeod (as seen in “China CEO”) on the difficulties of getting a straight answer:
“In Europe or the States, ‘yes’ means ‘yes’, so we can work together toward a common goal. Here ‘yes’ doesn’t always mean ‘yes’, and ‘no’ doesn’t always mean ‘no’.”
That advice may sound familiar – and frustrating – to anyone who has done business in China (or other parts of Asia). But it is important to understand cultural issues such as this, and to work around them – informally, after the big banquet or formal meeting, or through indirect channels – rather than attacking them head-on.
In practice an “agreement” may only be a confirmation of understanding, and a “contract” may not be a final confirmation of terms, but just another step towards a good working relationship. The champagne should stay in the fridge until the money is in the bank, and the next order is underway!
See “China CEO” and a selection of China business books here.