Payset prespective
April 19, 2024

Advantages of Doing Business in China

China offers numerous advantages for foreign businesses, including:‍ A massive consumer base, government support and incentives, strategic location, access to a skilled workforce, and technological advancements.

Understanding the Chinese Market

China’s vast consumer base presents immense opportunities for businesses. 

  • A Growing Middle Class - China has the world’s largest population, with over 1.4 billion people. This massive market offers substantial potential for growth. In the last few decades, as China has become a popular location for international business, wages have increased for Chinese workers. This has expanded the middle class in China as more of the population has disposable income. This segment possesses significant purchasing power and is driving demand for a wide range of products and services.
  • Segmentation of the Market - The geographic expansiveness of China means there are many regional differences in the market, including cultural, lifestyle, and spending patterns
  • Market Research can help identify consumer behaviour and regional preferences. The information obtained through this research will allow a business to tailor their products, services, and marketing strategies to specific market segments.

Here are the main advantages of doing business in China:

Government Support and Incentives

The Chinese government recognizes the importance of foreign investment and has implemented various policies to attract and support foreign businesses operating in China that aim to create a favourable business environment and promote economic growth. In the last decade, the government has made it easier to register in China and be licensed there. They created a foreign investment law designed to protect the rights and interests of foreign investors.

As well, there are many tax incentives and subsidies available for specific industries or technologies to encourage foreign investment in targeted sectors.  China has reduced corporate income tax rates for foreign-invested enterprises (FIEs) and provided tax holidays and exemptions for certain industries and regions. There are also double taxation avoidance agreements with many countries. 

The country has created Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to attract foreign investment in China. These zones offer preferential policies such as further tax breaks, reduced regulation and access to foreign exchange. The benefits provided in SEZs are designed to create favourable conditions for foreign investment, which will help China’s export industries.  

Free Trade Zones (FTZs) have also been created in China to promote trade and investment by creating areas where goods and services can be traded freely with minimal tariffs and regulations. The benefits of these zones for foreign business are numerous. They include reduced tariffs and customs duties, tax incentives that can significantly reduce tax burdens on foreign companies, and exchange convenience by allowing foreign businesses to freely convert currencies into the Yuan and vice versa. 

Another significant benefit of these zones is that they offer a gateway to the Chinese market. Through FTZs a business can gain access to China’s large consumer base and potential partners.

Strategic Location and Infrastructure

China has emerged as a global manufacturing and export hub, producing a wide range of products, including electronics, machinery, and textiles. Its large and skilled labour force, low production costs, and efficient infrastructure have made it an attractive destination for businesses seeking to produce export goods.

Its location has played a pivotal role in this emergence. The country has abundant domestic resources of essential raw materials. It also has close to other resource-rich regions in Asia, where it has strong economic ties that provide access to regional markets and supply chains. 

China has a long coastline with numerous ports, such as Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Tianjin. The coastal location facilitates easy access to international shipping lanes, reducing transport costs.

China’s extensive and rapidly expanding infrastructure has had a profound impact on business operations and logistics within the country and beyond. It has continually improved connectivity through a high-speed rail network, extensive highway systems, and the creation of modern ports and airports. They have also enhanced their supply chain management by adding strategically located facilities that consolidate and distribute goods.  This leads to reduced transport costs and increased business opportunities.

Access to a Skilled Workforce

China boasts a vast and skilled workforce, which offers significant advantages to foreign companies operating in the country. It provides a business with the world’s largest labor force of over 750 million people. The country has invested heavily in education, resulting in a highly literate and skilled population. Universities and vocational schools have produced a steady stream of graduates, leading to a highly skilled workforce that is available and easy to access.

This skilled workforce has cost advantages for a business. China’s labour costs are significantly lower than those of many developed countries. The average hourly wage for manufacturing workers is around $5.50 compared to $27.50 in the US and £16 in the UK, providing a cost advantage that makes China an attractive destination for a business seeking to reduce production costs. The combination of a skilled workforce and low labour costs gives a business a competitive advantage because it can produce goods at a lower cost.

Innovation and Technological Advancements

China has made significant investments in technology, becoming a global leader in various sectors. Areas of investment include AI, 5G infrastructure, cloud computing, and e-commerce. 

These investments have profound implications for foreign businesses operating in or entering the Chinese market. Competition will be increased as Chinese tech companies become increasingly competitive globally. This will increase market access for foreign businesses that can leverage China’s advanced technology infrastructure to connect with the growing market.

Opportunities are arising from China’s digital economy and e-commerce landscape. China has the world’s largest digital economy with over 1 billion internet users and a rapidly expanding e-commerce market that goes with its growing middle class. Currently, China has 42 percent of the global e-commerce customers, providing a massive market for a business to participate in through e-commerce. Foreign businesses can utilize platforms like Tmall Global and JD Worldwide to reach Chinese consumers directly. Using online platforms will provide data-driven insights to sellers allowing them to customize and localize their products, which is important to succeed in the Chinese market.

Challenges and Considerations When Doing Business in China

Despite the many advantages of doing business in China, there are also challenges that foreign businesses may face. They include language barriers, cultural differences, regulatory hurdles, intellectual property theft, and competition.

Local partnerships are an important tool for overcoming the challenges of doing business in China. The right partnership can not only help a business navigate legal and regulatory compliance issues but also provide cultural insights into the market to help in understanding Chinese consumers. A partner can help a business make informed decisions and develop strategies for product creation and distribution. 

Before a partner is chosen, a business should understand what they want from the partnership so research and due diligence can be done and an informed decision can be made.

Navigating the Business Culture and Etiquette

Understanding Chinese business culture and etiquette is crucial for foreign businesses operating in China. The country’s unique customs and traditions can impact business interactions. By respecting local norms, foreign companies can build strong relationships, avoid misunderstandings and increase their chances of success.

Guanxi is a Chinese term for building relationships. It refers to a network of personal and social connections that can be used to gain access to resources, favours and opportunities. These relationships are both personal and informal and typically built through personal interactions and social events, rather than formal agreements or contracts. The relationships are a form of social capital that are based on reciprocity, trust, and mutual obligations. It is important for a foreign business to have someone who can participate in guanxi networks to help the business have opportunities and thrive.

Understanding Chinese culture is necessary for effective communication and negotiation in a Chinese business environment. Any Westerner in China will discover a different understanding of social norms and etiquette that impacts business negotiations. Some general points to remember for effective communication are:

  • Respect Hierarchy: Chinese culture places a high value on hierarchy. Address individuals by their titles or surnames, and show deference to those in higher positions.
  • Be Patient and Indirect: Chinese communication tends to be indirect and nuanced. Allow ample time for conversations and avoid being overly direct or confrontational. In a business setting it is important to remember that deals are centered on relationships instead of tight contracts. This takes time.
  • Build Relationships: Establishing personal connections is crucial in Chinese business. Take time to get to know your counterparts and build rapport.
  • Use Formal Language: Business communication in China should be formal and polite. Avoid slang or colloquialisms.

Legal and Regulatory Considerations

China has not had the most stringent laws regarding intellectual property rights (IPR), which can make businesses operating in China vulnerable to IP theft. However, as China pursues becoming a global leader in innovation they are addressing the gaps in their IPR laws. New laws and attention to IP issues in China mean that potential theft has been reduced in most cases.

Steps a business can take to secure their intellectual property rights in China are:

  • Register intellectual property like trademarks, patents, and copyrights in China with the relevant authorities. Using a Chinese agent to ensure proper registration and compliance is helpful.
  • Use IP contracts and agreements like licensing agreements, confidentiality agreements, and other contracts that protect IP rights and are legally binding in China.
  • Monitor and enforce IP rights by regularly checking for potential IP infringements both online and offline. Take prompt action to enforce IP rights by having Chinese websites taken down and filing complaints.

For a business to navigate China’s legal system and regulatory environment they should begin by conducting due diligence and thoroughly researching the relevant laws and regulations.  Experienced legal counsel can provide guidance on compliance and risk management.

Guanxi is important in this situation. By building relationships and establishing local partnerships a business can gain insight and support, as well as gain access to government agencies and regulators to facilitate communication and resolve potential issues. 

Case Studies and Success Stories

Numerous foreign businesses have successfully entered the Chinese market. Starbucks, for example, has adapted its menu to local tastes and established strong partnerships with local suppliers. Apple has benefited from China’s growing consumer base and invested in research and development to cater to the Chinese market.

Tesla made the significant decision to establish a factory in China. The move was motivated by the need for production to be more efficient and cost-effective.

Before the company could move to China, Tesla needed China to adopt a Zero-Emission Vehicle program, similar to what exists in California. Tesla needed this so it could continue to sell credits to other companies that didn’t meet the government’s pollution targets, which is an important revenue stream for Tesla. Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk cultivated relationships (guanxi) that helped convince the Chinese government to create a clean air admissions program.

Through Musk’s relationships, Tesla was able to have a factory in China built in a year and begin producing cars. They were able to take advantage of operating in a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) and get a favourable tax rate.

Tesla’s decision to relocate its production to China gave the company access to the numerous advantages offered by the Chinese market. Lower production costs, a large and skilled workforce, cheaper parts, and access to a well-functioning and cheaper supply chain allowed Tesla to expand its production capacity and reduce expenses, resulting in the company’s growth and success.


China presents a strategic opportunity for businesses seeking growth and expansion. By understanding the market, nurturing relationships and navigating cultural and legal considerations, businesses can capitalize on the advantages China offers. The potential for success in the Chinese market is immense, making it an attractive destination for global enterprises.

Consider China as part of your global expansion strategy. Explore the resources and assistance available for market entry planning and connect with experts to guide your journey in the Chinese market.

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Information contained in this publication is provided for general education and information purposes only and should not be construed as legal, tax, investment or other professional advice or recommendation, or an offer of, or solicitation for, any transactions or any other actions (or refraining therefrom); This material has been prepared without taking into account any particular recipient’s financial objectives or situation. We make no warranty, guarantee or representation, whether express or implied, as to the completeness or accuracy of the information contained herein or fitness thereof for a particular purpose; Use of images and symbols is made for illustrative purposes only and does not constitute a recommendation or advice to take or refraining from any action; Use of brand logos does not necessarily imply a contractual relationship between us and the entities owning the logos, nor does it represent an endorsement of any such entity by Pay Set Limited, or vice versa; Market information is made available to you only as a service, and we do not endorse or approve it; Any reference to past performance, predicted returns, or likelihood performance scenarios may not reflect actual future performance and certainly do not guarantee future outcomes.

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