There has always been the obstacle of ethics for businesses looking to make fortunes, and every business must incorporate good ethics into their business, or they will lose out on potential investors, business partners and customers. When looking at ethical behavior, sometimes something that seems perfectly ethical in one country can seem unethical to outsiders just because of cultural differences. However, some things are just unethical no matter how you decide to look at it, and no matter what country you’re in.
When deciding to do business with another country, or to move there to actually live and work in that country, it’s important to know what the common ethical guidelines are. What the commonly misunderstood business practices are, and how the business practices between your native country and the country you are going to are different.
China is a country of culture and great traditions which have been brought into modern day Chinese culture from various stages in their history. There is no escaping this culture, as it influences everything the citizens of the country do, including how they conduct themselves in business. If you are to go there to live and work, you will need to have an understanding on the cultural differences in China and the effects this has on the Chinese business ethical code and how to abide by business ethics in China.
Unethical Business Practices in China
Let’s get the not so fun part out of the way first. The biggest thing that people think of when they purchase goods from China over the internet is that they are knock-offs (or replicas of the originals, sold at a lower price). For a long time, this was happening, but government agencies are starting to crack down on the groups that were doing this, and if diligence is taken then often the product will be exactly what you intended to buy.
Also, many people use fake banks and fake businesses in China to launder money for other countries. The money is earned; then the money is ‘used’ in some way via the banks or by being funnelled through the business, and then the money is sent out to another country. The record keeping is all done in such a way as to make it look like the money was either never there or that it was legitimately sent and spent. These types of crimes are harder to track now in the day of technology, but not impossible.
Teams of highly trained cyber crime analysts work hard to find criminals who are involved in these kinds of things and put them out of business both in China and in the other countries where the money was coming from and where it was going to.
Work Ethics: Business Practices in China
Now, we can focus on the overall view of what business ethics look like in China. The unethical business practices of the past, and yes, of the present, are being acknowledged instead of being swept under the rug and many students are now seeking MBAs so that they can learn to incorporate a new important wave of Chinese ethics and morals into businesses old and new. With these new graduates coming into power as CEO’s of businesses and political leaders, not only will China become an economic powerhouse, as it is already set up to be, but also a giant in the field of business ethics that every country can learn from.
With business ethics in China, challenges and opportunities will arise. The first challenge is to get around the way of thinking that has had so many people, in China and many other countries, stereotyping the Chinese people and the way they do business. Once the stereotype is broken, then real change can happen. Once change takes place the opportunities are endless. New business ventures both within the country and globally will skyrocket with capital. The middle class will boom. Plus the countries that doubted China will now be asking for their backing as an ally and a capital investor.
Ethical Issues Doing Business in China
If you are from another country, and you want to do business with China, then it’s a good idea to have an ironclad contract that will not be torn down by international lawyers over a simple phrasing. Make sure that both sides agree to the terms and have a lawyer for each side look over the contract. Then share the cost of a mutually objective lawyer who will look it over for anything that could be cause for alarm, and to iron out any loophole.
Paying for a good lawyer now will help you later. This is not just good advice when dealing with China, but when dealing with any foreign country in which you can’t meet the person you’re dealing with face-to-face, or you don’t know much about the company. Sometimes this is done when business is conducted between companies in the same country as well, especially if it is a large volume of work.
Economic Ethics and Chinese Culture
One huge shift when it comes to economics in the last 30 years in China has been the way companies market to their consumers. Before 1980, most people lived in the countryside, so marketing to them was all but useless. Now many people live in cities and marketing is easy… billboards, television, radio, and even ads on subway walls or on the internet and on apps on their phones. It’s a huge shift and it has allowed many companies and marketing agencies to push the envelope, so to speak, as far as what can be promoted and what can’t. Many of the older generations are still fighting with what is right and wrong in this sector, but many younger people are okay with this because they’ve never seen any different.
Business Ethics in China vs. United States
As I mentioned previously, each country has its own flaws when it comes to ethics, they are just different ones. In the US, many people would say that they lean toward not providing healthcare or a decent wage for workers. However, in China, it’s more about corruption that has gone on so long that people are finally standing up for it and getting rid of it. You could say people in the US are trying to get rid of their own problems as well. Only time will tell if either country is successful at doing so, but something is being done, although many people who say not enough.
China Business Ethics Articles
If you are going to do any business in China, or if you are thinking of moving to China on a Z Visa to live and work there in whatever sector of the job market you have education and experience in, it’s important to know the business market. How, things are done, and just how ethics are looked at both from the Chinese side, and from the side of foreigners (which is usually very stereotypical). To stay current on the ethical conduct in the business sector, you will be working and shopping in. I would suggest looking up business ethics articles for those specific businesses and roles in the companies that are relevant to when you will be there and what companies you will be doing business with. Then you will have a broader understanding of how ethics are handled in that specific industry.