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How to succeed in China

To succeed in China we must understand Chinese business better

At a House of Lords event today, Lord Wei called on business leaders to work to understand better the outlook, motivations and approach of Chinese business in order to be successful in the world’s second largest economy. Following the UK trade delegation to China last week, on which Lord Wei was a representative, the House of Lords plays host to Chairmen and CEOs from a number of China’s leading companies. The project, driven by Grant Thornton and WPP, aims to give UK business leaders valuable insight into doing business in China, insight that many Chinese business leaders believe the West lacks. 

He Fulong, chairman of ITG Group summed up the views of those interviewed when he said: "I believe that people misunderstand China. Usually they have an opinion on one extreme or the other. Some people take a political position and demonise China. Others take a more cultural view and mythologise China. Both of these perspectives are limited and distorted. The reality is in the middle. China is moving forward continuously."

 The project, entitled, 'The Thoughts of Chairmen Now', has been driven by Jon Geldart, from Grant Thornton, and David Roth of WPP, after working in China for many years. The pair hope to dispel many of the myths and misconceptions of doing business in China, applying what they themselves have learned, alongside in-depth interviews with 14 of China’s leading Chairmen and Chief Executives.

Jon Geldart, co-author and Global Head of Marketing Communications at Grant Thornton, said: “China represents a fantastic opportunity for businesses. It is no longer just a place to get things made, but a place to get things sold. However, without understanding how Chinese business people think and approach commerce, businesses in the West will struggle to grasp the real opportunity.

"Western businesses need to better understand the way Chinese business leaders think, their values and their priorities. These are different from the rest of the world. Those we interviewed wanted to help set the record straight and dispel some of the myths and legend, misconceptions and misunderstanding they felt the West has of doing business with the Chinese.

“China business leaders are open and interested in Western management and they are looking for much more collaboration to better understand. But it is to understand and not to copy. They see 'blending' and mixing western and Chinese management techniques as productive and possible, to use the 'best of the best' to meet the ever changing dynamics of the Chinese marketplace.”

"Brand is not only on the Board agenda but at the top of it. According to the BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands 2013 study, there are 12 which are Chinese. The importance of brand pervaded all our conversations. China is now the world's most digitally connected country and its usage for brand building is highly sophisticated with Spring Airlines having over 2 million followers on Weibo – China's equivalent of a mix between Facebook and Twitter. Spring allows travellers to enter information about themselves so they can be sit with like-minded fellow travellers if they wish!"

With 35 million households earning an income over $10,000 and 221 cities with populations of over 1 million by 2025 and the growth of the middle classes, China presents a market no company can ignore. China is rebalancing after 30 years of unprecedented economic growth. Those seeking to do business in China need to better understand the motivations and drivers of those who lead successful Chinese businesses or they may fail to apply the right cultural lens to their efforts. To understand more visit for access to further insights through a book and an iPad app.


Notes to editors 

About Grant Thornton

Grant Thornton is one of the world's leading organisations of independent assurance, tax and advisory firms. These firms help dynamic organisations unlock their potential for growth by providing meaningful, forward looking advice. Proactive teams, led by approachable partners in these firms, use insights, experience and instinct to understand complex issues for privately owned, publicly listed and public sector clients and help them to find solutions. More than 35,000 Grant Thornton people, across over 100 countries, are focused on making a difference to clients, colleagues and the communities in which we live and work.

“Grant Thornton” refers to the brand under which the Grant Thornton member firms provide assurance, tax and advisory services to their clients and/or refers to one or more member firms, as the context requires. Grant Thornton International Ltd (GTIL) and the member firms are not a worldwide partnership. GTIL and ea


John Vita 

Director of Public Relations and External Affairs

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