Chinese Etiquette & Ethics in Business is a book written by Boye De Mente concerning the morals and values that shape the Chinese business personality. The book did a really nice job of giving background on the Chinese culture and looking back at the history of China and how it shaped where it is at today. The parts of the book that I found most interesting were about Chinese family life, the way foreigners are viewed, and how involved the government is with businesses. There were also some interesting facts relating to Chinese cuisine and the concept of the yin and the yang.
It is an official policy in China for each Chinese married couple to only have one child. However, some couples deliberately have a second child, which happens mainly when their firstborn was a girl. If this happens, they are required to pay a fine of 1000 yuan each year for five years. This is a very expensive amount of money for most Chinese families. If couples do follow the one child rule, they receive various benefits, which range from pay raises and education to private garden plots. I learned for the first time about China's "black children", which refers to the children whose births are not registered. This results in the children officially "not existing". They are ineligible to attend school, get a job, or join the military. There are over one million "children without identities" in China.
In relation to learning about Chinese family life, I learned about the college entrance examinations that are held each year in July. The entrance examination lasts three days and is referred to as "Black July". It is not uncommon for teachers to stop covering regular class material six months prior to when the exams take place, allowing students enough time to study for the upcoming tests. Not surprisingly, parents put a tremendous amount of pressure on their kids to study and prepare as much as they can for the entrance exams. I was surprised to learn that 75% of students actually fail the exam, and subsequently are not allowed to enter any college.
Traditionally, the Chinese image of foreigners was that they were "barbarians"; which to them meant that foreigners were simply not as civilized or as advanced as they were. Today, foreigners are not viewed as "barbarians". However, don't be surprised if you find yourself being stared at while on the train or walking down the street, because some Chinese have never had a chance to see a foreigner up close.
There is a lot to learn when it comes to business in China, which is very exciting. When reading about the organizational structure, I found out that there are two separate administrative bodies, one on the business side and one on the political side. The political representative is known as the party secretary in the organization, and actually has as much power as the president of the organization. I also learned that businessmen, as well as government bureaucrats, are subject to certain rankings. Referred to as "grades", there are 18 grades on the business side, 18 being the lowest ranking and 1 being the highest. For the government officials, there is a 24-grade scale. I thought it was funny to learn that you could tell the rank of someone by the chair they were using. The lowest ranked person would have a wooden chair at their desk, while the highest ranked people would use a leather swivel chair.
I also learned about the importance of Chinese cuisine. Food is so important that you will often hear "have you eaten?" instead of "how are you?" One of the best ways a foreign businessman can effectively express appreciation and knowledge of the Chinese culture is through understanding of Chinese food. When it comes to eating rice, it was surprising for me to learn that it is typically served at the end of a meal. There is also proper etiquette when it comes to using chopsticks. You are not supposed to lay your chopsticks across the top of the bowl, and it is also considered rude to leave them sticking in a bowl. This applies more so to eating in a Chinese home, as opposed to a restaurant.
One of the things that I found to be important to the Chinese is the concept of the yin and the yang. Essentially, the concept gives a long-range view of things, and allows for people to accept the good with the bad. This is a theory that still holds true today. With that said, I though this book was filled with interesting information, however, it was written in 1989, which makes it quite dated. I would be interested in learning about any changes made to the information that I learned about, and if anything is completely different from how things were when the book was written.