Venturing China: Be There Physically and Be Immersed Culturally

posted Feb 14, 2011, 1:46 AM by xia.fan@ceo-s.org
“Going to China” has become a cliché. One might ask now: “Yes, I know there is huge market there, and indeed I do want to go there! But how?” 

There is no fixed path for entrepreneurs to follow, but there are stories that we might refer to for our own exploration. 

In this episode of CEOs’ event, Mr. Lim Wee Khee, Director of SCCCI Shanghai Representative office, and Mr. See Yong Seng, Founder & CEO of Hanshijie Education & Technology Group, both Singaporeans who are now inhabiting in Shanghai, shared their experience and thoughts in venturing China. 

As a Director of Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry, an organization aims to help and promote Chinese Singaporeans’ business globally, Mr. Lim took the role for Shanghai Representative office last year for his over ten years’ experience in China. Different from those of businessmen, his story revolves more around interpersonal communication with Locals, and understanding of the culture from a comparatively macro point of view. While everybody knows “Guanxi”, the Chinese word for “relationships”, is important in China, Mr. Lim elaborated with his own experience: To establish a relationships or network, it should not be merely exchanging namecards and several follow-up emails; instead, one should immerge himself into the culture. Different from doing business in Singapore, businessmen in China will not talk about dealings upon networking dinner, instead they would rather be friends first, and business opportunities will present naturally afterwards. In fact, “Let things come naturally as your personal friendship and network being nurtured” was the emphasis of his sharing. 

Mr. See, however, is a very young entrepreneur who hasn’t been in China for many years, but his business is soaring for his hard efforts made. Summarizing his strategies with Deng Xiaoping’s words of wisdom, his presentation showed his endeavor to implant himself culturally into the country. His interpretation of “Wei Ji”, the Chinese word of “Crisis”, as “opportunities after danger” was significantly impressive. Nowadays people use this word only to express the meaning of “Danger”, ignoring the meaning of “opportunity”. It reflected his inborn optimism and discernment, which is crucial for an entrepreneur. 

In addition to Mr. Lim’s opinion on relationships, Mr. See pointed out that relationship is indeed important all around the world. It is only a cultural difference of how to build up the relationship, and hence of the most importance is to be culturally mixed with local environment. He also kept emphasizing that “You should physically be there” and bears it out by giving up offers from banks and Shell himself, and even moving his family to Shanghai. 

Audiences were blown away by both speakers’ down-to-earth entrepreneurial spirit and many lingered around after the Q&A session. 


Contributed by CEOs Member Wu Jingxian.
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