A growing number of Utah businesses want to participate in the global economic opportunities that exist in the burgeoning Chinese marketplace, and to succeed, they must learn more about Chinese culture, according to an international business consultant.

About 50 local companies joined in a workshop Thursday to learn how to bridge the international business gap from West to East. The seminar, held at the Salt Lake Community College Miller Campus in Sandy, focused on avoiding common mistakes in China related to sourcing, manufacturing and importing. Chief among the issues discussed were the cultural differences that exist in the way China and America conduct business.

"You don't necessarily have to speak the language. But understand the culture," said Aaron Wong, founder and CEO of Arrow Quality International. "You don't try to create conflict with somebody, you don't disagree with someone. The Chinese are not always direct in saying, 'No.' They say 'no' without saying 'no."'

In addition to "harmony," or avoiding conflict, he said business people should also understand the importance of "face," or someone's reputation, which is regarded very highly in China.

Wong also said American businesses wishing to develop relationships within China should make sure they know exactly what products or services they need. "Really do your homework," he said.

Attorney Lee Wright told the audience that his first advice to businesses is to create a strong legal contract with their Chinese counterpart, to ensure the language and agreement are explicitly understood.

"There are certain ways to put your contract together so that it will be recognized and enforceable by the government of China," he said.

American businesses also should push for a provision in the contract that makes English the official language, to avoid translation issues in the future.

Another important concern for American businesses is the protection of their intellectual property, such as a trademark or patent. He advised U.S. businesses to have products registered in China, to help avoid pirating.

U.S. companies also should consider setting up a wholly owned foreign enterprise, Wright said.

"You can actually have a business office on the ground in China to watch what your manufacturer is doing, to make sure they're not knocking off your products and selling them to someone else," he said. "It's a good idea to have a presence in China."


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