Negotiation in the West is incorporated into college curriculum because theories have been established with real cases. China has its own negotiation style and principles; no explicit theory has been defined but common observations. The concept of trust is nevertheless existing in both Western and Chinese contexts with difference meaning. The 21st China-EU Summit and the 9th Business Forum between China and Eastern Europe have taken place early this month. Encouragement of business and trade will lead to more negotiations between Chinese and European companies and businessmen. It might be helpful to talk about the concept of trust in China in comparison to it in Europe.
Trust in Europe is established by rules and laws in a broad perspective. Companies are trustworthy because of their observance to the laws and local rules. The supplements to this trust are the quality of the goods or services and the implementation of customer satisfaction nowadays. All these will add up to the good reputation of a company which makes a company trustworthy. It is hence very crucial for Chinese companies to consider this interpretation of trust in approaching European counterparts. For Chinese companies having branches or subsidiaries in Europe, it is another delicate question of balancing the different interpretations of trust.
China in general takes a different perspective on trust, which is strongly influenced by its culture of ethics and morality focusing on people and relationships. Trust is formed when the ethical and moral aspects are fulfilled. For instance, buying products from acquaintances who are doing related businesses is a signal of trust, because this shows that the buyer cares about the seller’s business by buying product from seller exclusively when in such need. In return, the products that the seller delivers to the buyer is of guaranteed quality and safety. This could subject to abuse of such trust for personal gain, but good maintenance of such trust by both sides will receive high level of respect.
Another example is the euphemism in language when negotiating in business. Chinese culture considers the values of long-term cooperation and friendly relationships more important than counting every penny or pushing one term for the current case. Hence a compromise is most likely to be reached if Chinese companies intend to look for further collaborations with the same company that they are negotiating now. These underlying values could also be reversely used as a signal for successes or failures if the negotiation attitude from the Chinese companies tends to be open and disputable or firm and pushy.
Around the negotiation, the proactiveness in responding to messages and propositions of Chinese companies also could tell the general approach of a project or a cooperation possibility with foreign companies. Less or late responses entail a greater possibility that this project could be postponed or even cancelled. Another remark is that not every Chinese or European is the same, specific decisive factors should be discovered by the parties involved beforehand for a better start of talking.