My Story About Going Out Internationally to Meet With a Client in China
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Hi, my name is Sang and I am currently a senior at San Jose State University majoring in business administration, concentration in accounting. I was lucky enough to obtain my assurance intern from Ernst and Young last summer of 2018 and I started off with professional training on the first week. Furthering on the second week was when I was able to go hands on with reality work related to audit. My first client was placed in China, I was one of the rare interns to be able to go out internationally to meet with a client in China. It was one of the greatest experience I have ever had not mentioning this is my first time ever going out of a state, therefore, everything was new to me in the process. Thoughts before the trip was how should I pack my stuff, which plane am I going on, first time on the plane, and what to expect. The experience at China felt like a different world. Therefore, I will be bringing you on my journey and share with you of my experience doing business in China regarding to their culture, language, and their values.
I am going to start off with culture. First of all, culture is a learned behavior; a way of life for one group of people living in a single, related, and independent community. The culture in China was magnificent, there were many different groups in China including the Tibetans, Mongols, Manchus, Naxi, and Hezhen. It seems like individuals within communities create their own culture. The religion, language, food, and arts were very different and unique in China. China culture was so much to take in and learn. That includes their heritage, festivals, language, arts and symbolic images. Since everything was so different our group of team needed to recognize and adjust to the cultural environment in China. As a global firm my team must ascertain the level of importance of many different aspects of culture in the foreign markets and recognize these aspects when doing business overseas. In addition, I remember in chapter 5 “The Cultural Environment”, we learn about the cultural dimensions of doing business in China. I enjoy reading the chapter very much because I was able to relate and completely understand when reading it because of the experience I encounter in China. In the chapter I remember we learn the word Guanxi. “A philosophy denoting friendships among unequals (as between subordinates and superiors) and the unlimited exchanges of favors; it is utilitarian and not based on sentiment, emotions, or a group orientation.”.
Where a person of low rank may be powerful and influential due to guanxi relationships with superiors. The statement was very true through my experience. When I was doing business in China I had meetings and lunch with folks who I felt that sense. Furthermore, I would like to speak about the importance and impact of culture for managing and marketing in overseas markets. One important point is the country’s culture affects its attitudes toward work. Depending on the management styles it can give rise to challenges or lead to success. Especially, when developing a new product, management styles must be considered along with many other aspects of marketing. Advertising campaigns could be considered one of the hardest and misleading if not carefully tailored and translated correctly to local cultures. If there is miscommunication on the advertising campaigns that could lead to awful effect on business relationship and country relationship. I would also like to talk the aesthetics in China. The folks in China perceived light skin as beauty in their society. They appeal to having light skin, but whether or not someone is high up on the social ladder doesn’t really depend on their skin tone. They have a thinking where if you were born into poor families or live in a less developed areas then your skin will naturally become darker due to the laborers that works on farms and factories. However, having lighter skin is not the main priority goal. For most of the folks putting food on the table is the main priority, people lose the agency to care about their skin color. The very rich families or the new generation ultra rich youth, will usually higher desire for lighter skin through skincare products and sunblock, but most of this comes from Western influences. And therefore, they might treat others according to their skin color and use it to profile or discriminate.
Next I would like to talk about the elements of culture which includes language. With language there are three elements, verbal communication, nonverbal communication, and backward translation. Verbal communication is a message’s actual contents intended to be conveyed to the receiver. In other words what the message mean or say to the receiver. In the Chinese language there are seven major groups of dialects. Each group have their own variations according to Mount Holyoke College. “Mandarin dialects are spoken by 71.5 percent of the population, followed by Wu (8.5 percent), Yue (also called Cantonese; 5 percent), Xiang (4.8 percent), Min (4.1 percent), Hakka (3.7 percent) and Gan (2.4 percent).” (livescience.com). Another fact that was very interesting to acknowledge is that Chinese (Mandarin) holds top place as the most used mother tongue in the internet, while English placed second as the most used language. “In 2010, the number of Chinese native speakers totaled 955 million people.” (chinahighlights.com). It is fascinating to know that after learning chinese language, imagine how many more people you would be able to communicate with. However, with the benefit of communicating with more people come with the price.
The Chinese language is known for one of the hardest language to learn. It is one of the hardest languages to learn especially for native English speakers. They have a whole different level of writing system, including grammar, pronunciation, and sound. It has been told that folks who desire to study Chinese (myself included) must put in years of work to reach fluency and even then it is rare to achieve native like proficiency. “Typically, you must learn 3,000 characters in order to be considered fluent enough to read the morning newspaper. And the language consists of tens of thousands of characters that make ultimate fluency a daunting task.” (chinahighlights.com). Futherring, nonverbal communication play a big part in communication in China. Nonverbal communication is a tone of voice, gestures, eye contact, body positions, facial grimaces, and other body language that accompanies verbal communication. Nonverbal communication was a new huge part for me to get used to in China.
All the folks that I have encounter in China bowed to me as a nonverbal communication of saying hello, instead of waving hi like we do in the United States. They also repeat the bow after saying bye instead of waving goodbye. It felt new to me and it was a warming experience that I will never forget. With further research I have learned that the Chinese place their emotional importance on their eyes when expressing and recognizing emotions. “According to one study, “Western Europeans fixate more on the mouth region, and East Asians fixate more on the eye region when recognising facial expressions.” In the Chinese culture, information and nonverbal cues are communicated through the eyes rather than through expressive smiles or frowns which Western cultures and Americans use to communicate.”. (sites.psu.edu). I did not know that the Chinese culture uses nonverbal communicated through their eyes rather than smiles or frowns. One thing I did know and was told was direct eye contact while in China should be avoided. “Chinese and East Asian individuals have been said to “perceive another’s face as angrier and more unapproachable and unpleasant when making eye contact as compared to individuals from a Western European culture.””(sites.psu.edu). I thought it was more respectful if I looked at them through the eyes to show that I was listening and not getting distracted. Thankfully one of my team members who was used to the chinese background pointed it out for me. Last but not least, backward translation was another big part during my experience in China. Of course we wanted the translation to be accurate; so we translated a message from English into a foreign language, then translating it back into English to check for accuracy. Of course we also had a reliable translator which made everything much more at ease and less tense.
The last thing that I would like to talk about that I have acknowledge through my trip was the values in China. Values are basic beliefs or philosophies that are pervasive in a society. “The Chinese traditional cultural values of harmony, benevolence, righteousness, courtesy, wisdom, honesty, loyalty, and filial piety are embodied in China’s diplomacy through the concept of harmony, the most important Chinese traditional value.”(carnegietsinghua.org). I also believe that religion plays a huge part in their values. There are currently only five official religions in China and they are Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism and Protestantism. Any other religion would be considered illegal, even though the Chinese constitution states that people are allowed to have freedom of religion. I was very surprised to find out that you were only allow to practice those five official religions. “About a quarter of the people practice Taoism and Confucianism and other traditional religions. There are also small numbers of Buddhists, Muslims and Christians. Although numerous Protestant and Catholic ministries have been active in the country since the early 19th century, they have made little progress in converting Chinese to these religions.” (livescience.com).
There was another religion called the Chinese folk religion where people view religious beliefs as a part of their way of seeing the world without putting a label on it. “The folk religion is characterized by broad beliefs in salvation, prayer to ancestors and former leaders, and an understanding of the influence of the natural world.” (chinahighlights.com). As you can see religion is a big part especially in China because it affects business operations, manufacturing and marketing of products, observance of holidays, and working days and working hours. Same goes with the level of education of people in foreign countries. Level of education is a major factor in explaining economic growth and it must be such that host-country personnel can work or be trained for a variety of jobs. Every countries emphasize different educational specialties. “The Chinese education system is the largest state-run education system in the world. The Compulsory Education Law of China stipulates nine years of government funded compulsory school attendance, which includes six years of primary school and three years of junior high school.” (statista.com). I also notice that the rich folks in China were the one provided with better education. People that are in the lower class are more focus on training their children to help them with their business instead of giving them the education, perhaps they cannot afford to give their kids the education. Not because they don’t want to but they can’t. In China they do not have the free public school system like we do in the United States. The only way the children could attend school and have education is by paying for it.
Overall, I had an enormous experience and learn a whole lot of things during my stay in China. I learned so much about their culture, language, and values. The culture in China was magnificent, there were so many different groups in China including the Tibetans, Mongols, Manchus, Naxi, and Hezhen. I pick up and study the new different verbal communication, nonverbal communication, and backward translation in China. Also I was shock that any other religion would be considered illegal unless they were the five official religions in China Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism and Protestantism. My stay in China was very unique, different, and adventurous. I enjoy meeting new folks their seeing delicious food and beautiful arts were very different and unique in China. China culture was so much to take in and learn.