The Emperor's New Clothes

Cloak of invisibility? We can't see it... Can you...?

With more and more U.S. buyers having "connections" and "sources" in China, such buyers start to take more and more risks when it comes to purchasing. As time goes on, many buyers would become indifferent to the fact that China is not the U.S., and that there's no such concept as "buyer protections." Nonetheless, the consistent buying pattern may give rise to a false-sense of confidence that everything will work out when the Chinese societal norm dictates otherwise. This false-sense of confidence is the root culprit of how many of our customers got burned.

The idea that makes one think and feel that one's untouchable, and hence, less vigilant, is usually borne from a sense of superiority complex. While it is true that the U.S. is many decades ahead of the modern China, and that the Chinese have been narrowing the gap, the professional ethics in China still have a long way to go. When we are used to the good old American work ethics, we are just setting ourselves up for the eventual failure when working with China.

To understand a Chinese business person, one must first understand his standing in the Chinese tradition. In ancient China, business person is looked down. The tactics that business people employ are commonly described as: theft, robbery, kidnap, and cheat. Not the type of characteristics that you'd like to deal with. As far as hierarchy goes, business person is listed at the bottom of the pile after: politician, farmer, and laborer. In the modern China, thanks to the new found capitalism, business people have elevated their status by leaps and bounds. However, there are still many old habits that are die hard.

With that basic knowledge in hand, U.S. buyers must "always" keep their guard up because complacency kills.

Traditionally, Chinese business people look at a business associate as an "adversary," not as a "partner." While this has also changed over the centuries, there are still quite a bit of residual effects. Today's Chinese business people in their mid-thirties and up did not have formal business education; they become business people by learning from one another. While they learned how to make money, nobody ever taught them how "not" to make money. In other words, they are literally driving a car with the foot glued the accelerator and no brakes. This is terrific for their wealth standing, but it reeks great calamity on the end results. After all, the label of "Made in China" did not earn its unfortunate reputation overnight.

With that basic knowledge in hand, U.S. buyers must "always" keep their guard up because complacency kills. That Chinese business "friend" you think will help to support your supply chain tomorrow may just become an instant stranger when he's facing a potentially catastrophic situation. Chinese business people are very short-sighted. They'll grab what's right in front of them and never thinks about what may eventually develop into a long-lasting working relationship.

We at Cross Blue have worked with many customers who were previously burned by Chinese business people when they dealt directly with China; they are now happily distancing themselves with us acting as an insulation. While there are also success stories, the satisfaction level is definitely under 50%. And for those whom did not have a pleasant experience in China, most of them have become overly confident for their own good. They felt they were in control of the situation while, all along, it was the other way around. The "untouchables" and the "invisibles" with their high morals and ethics have been tuned up and washed out.