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ICP Licensing: How to Start Your Chinese Business off Strong

Promising untapped markets are emerging all over China. As companies race to break into the new business climate, ICP Licensing is in growing demand. With rules and regulations constantly changing, and an overwhelming amount of Chinese paperwork, the registration process can get confusing. Nevertheless, completing this step is a fundamental part of your successful game plan, and we’re here to help.

In this article, we’ve taken Incorp China’s 30+ years of professional ICP license registration experience and created an all-you-need-to-know-guide on how to properly establish a competitive web presence in any mainland region.

Beware: This is a fragile and crucial part of your company’s success. The process is not to be taken lightly, although there are certain service providers out there who treat it so in order to make a quick buck or yuan. Pay attention to the points provided and we will teach you how to do it right.

 

First things first:

As in all Chinese business, cultivating strong relationships is step one. Registering your license involves proving to the government that your intentions are pure, that your site is worthy of hosting, and that you can operate within the boundaries of Chinese law.

No book or website can fully prepare you for this process. Sure you can google a nice flowchart, but the business culture in the east is rooted in a social system more delicate than any western country.

Certain steps absolutely require a Chinese contact. For example, certain user registrations require an input on SMS verification codes which only send to China-based numbers. Furthermore, not all registration sites accept international payment methods.

As your documents are filled out and translated from region to region, a trusted cultural insider will quickly become your most valuable research tool.

See why Incorp China is the right relationship for you here.

 

Now, let’s get specific…

What is an ICP License?

An ICP (Internet Content Provider) License is a permit, applicable to legally registered companies, issued by the MIIT (Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology) that permits websites to operate in China. It is a key piece in your site going live, one between purchasing a hosting and creating your domain.

 

Does every business need an ICP License?

If your goal is to launch a website using a server hosted in China or on a Chinese content delivery network, an ICP License is mandatory.

However, say you are a US company hosting your website in America. The Chinese consumer is merely a fraction of your target market. Is it possible for your website to function, for Chinese consumers to view your content without an ICP License?

The answer is yes, but anticipate firewall blockage and don’t expect a fast-loading website.

Note: In Hong Kong, thanks to a more western style set of laws, entering the online playing field can be a smoother process.

Learn more about the benefits of opening your company in Hong Kong here.

 

Which ICP License is right for my business?

There are two types:

1. Commercial License

A commercial license is for companies offering goods or services to customers chiefly online. Its parameters are strict and swift:

• Commercial ICPs are almost never issued to companies with any foreign investment.
• Therefore, you must be a completely Chinese-owned business.

2. Bei An (Filing) License

The ICP Bei An license is the standard license, available to foreign-owned entities: Representative Offices (RO), Joint Ventures (JV), or Wholly Foreign Owned Enterprises (WOFE). All mainland China hosted sites must obtain one before they begin any business online.

Given that our company assists non-Chinese businesses in entering the market, this is the license we will focus on.

 

How do I get an ICP Bei An License:

Within the category of Bei An licenses, there are two ways to go:

A. Proxy Process

This is the only option for companies that do not have a physical entity present in the country. It allows you to nominate a locally-registered Chinese company to hold the domain for you as a proxy.

With this plan, you take on additional risk. Because you are linked with entities other than your own, if the proxy becomes blocked for any reason, it’s game over for everyone with no way back in.

B. Direct Process

This plan ensures the highest possible control over your site. The process is slightly longer, but ultimately worth it for companies serious about their Chinese presence.

When a client needs this license, here’s what happens in flow chat form followed by a more clear explanation:

Chinese ICp licensing process, ICP License,

• We translate and submit the required documents to your web provider
– In review, additional documents may be required
– When approved, your provider sends the documents to MIIT

• MIIT reviews your ICP license application documents
– When approved, we will be notified via our Chinese phone number
– Within twenty days, you will have received a registration number

• We apply for a PSB (Public Security Bureau) ICP Filing
– We have thirty days to apply after receiving the number
– Once again, the documents must be submitted in Chinese

• We submit the documents to start accessing China-based web services
– With the license, you can now purchase hosting and CDN services
– Finally, you are able to register for a .cn domain

Note: Failure to keep the information you submitted to MIIT up-to-date can result in fines or complete cancellation of your ICP license.

Once your site is up and running, the license numbers will be displayed in the website footer.  Check out this example:

ICP Licensing footnote example picture Michael Korswww.michaelkors.cn

At this point, local competition knows you are serious about your sales and ready to compete. Your fast-loading website will keep customers around and partners engaged, and all the paperwork will be worth it.

Ready to get started? Call now for a consultation with an IncorpChina team member, and establish your most important relationship in China success. +1 561 729 6508 | info@incorpchina.com

#icplicensing #businessinchina #chinesemarket

 

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Be Prepared: Five Important First Steps for Setting up your Business in China

Compared to the fast-paced explicit processes which dominate Western business, starting a company in China can be a headache.  Combine extensive legal work with a social system opposite of your own and even the most experienced businessmen and women are in for a challenge. 

However, establishing a presence in China continues to be a profitable move for entities in every business sector. With endless resources at your disposal, how to begin gets confusing.  We’ve stripped away all the particulars and provided you with a basic idea.

The following list highlights five steps that your business needs to properly complete before beginning operations in China.

Think about how your business will fit into each section and most importantly, think of the relationships you can and will establish along the way. To succeed, you need sturdy connections to lean on during every step. Finally, be patient. Remember everything takes time in Chinese business culture.

 

1. Research, research, research

Begin by investigating the industry and areas you are interested in. Government officials publish a five-year plan stating the specific kinds of businesses they are looking for. Make sure to use it.

When you have an idea of the best place for your business, take a trip. Don’t stay in one place; compare other regions. Start making observations. Attend trade shows. Network.

2. Decide which entity is best for you

There are three kinds of business entities you can register for. Consider your particular business scope and decide which entity will supply you with the most opportunity and least amount of risk. The three potential business entities are:

i. Representative Office (RO)
– significantly limits what your company can do
– easiest to open

ii. Joint Venture (JV)
– your Chinese partner will have a home field advantage
– JVs create greater risk should the partnership fail
– only entity in which a “restricted” business can operate
– less limitation

iii. Wholly Owned Foreign Enterprise (WOFE)
– allows foreign entrepreneurs to own 100% of the company
– requires an extensive set-up process with registered capital
– can operate as trading and retail companies

3. Develop a five-year business plan

Be precise but be broad. Once your business plan has been finalized, you are only able to operate within its guidelines.

Note: Protecting your intellectual property is important. If you plan to trademark your company or product, act early and do so in both Chinese and English.

4. Apply for approval with your local authority

Necessary documents can vary depending on where and with who you are doing business. Be sure to comply with the regulations specific to your location. The documents must be converted to Chinese by a reliable translation company. Applications can take up to 90 days to be approved.

5. Find a bank

Once you have approval, you have 30 days to register with the Chinese Administration for Industry and Commerce (AIC) and apply for a business license. Once you have the license, you will be able to open a Chinese bank account.

 

Know more: Authenticating your US documents to be used in China

With these five steps complete, you have solidified a foundation.  Now it is time to focus on the particulars.  Exactly which way to go next will depend on your specific business plan.  Again, this can get confusing; but Incorp China is here to help.  Whether your next step is filing a trademark, registering for an ICP License, or finding a general manager and employees you can trust, we know how to get it done right.

 

“The time is now. Be part of the process as China becomes tomorrow’s economic powerhouse.”

Ready to expand your business and break into China’s upcoming markets? Call now for a consultation with an IncorpChina team member, and establish your most important relationship in China success.

+1 561 729 6508 | info@incorpchina.com

 

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The Transformational Trend: Why China is the place to be and how to start your business there

Why bring your business to China?

The future of China’s economy has never looked this bright. With a thriving middle class, a new wide-spread consumerist approach to spending, and increasing liberalization, China is now home to a wide variety of promising untapped markets.

Since the late 1980s and 1990s, China’s economy has been executing significant reform to the state-owned industry. Upon the passage of The Company Law in 1993, limited liability companies were approved, and firms were able to retain a share of their profits. As a result, private ownership increased rapidly. By 2005 it accounted for about 70% of China’s gross domestic product.

Among reforms, China established an unprecedented manufacturing presence as a result of highly competitive pricing and sheer production power. After dominating our global economy as the world’s largest exporter of goods since 2009, China’s focus now shifts from expansion to stability, that is back to service and consumption.

Amidst all this economic activity, China’s middle class has boomed. With a current urban population of around 800 million people, that is only going to grow, 54% percent are expected to be the upper-middle class by 2022.
Take a look:

China’s Middle Class as Percent of Urban Households, doing business in china

At this point, the economy’s growth has slowed. However, China is still ahead of their goal to double GDP between 2010 and 2020 and more industries are open to investment than ever before.
See below China’s GDP yearly growth since 2008 and China’s GDP annual growth rate over the last four years, respectively:

 

 

 

 

 

Even with a declining growth rate, China’s economy is still expanding at a rate three times higher than that of the US.

This is merely the start of China’s rebalancing. Economic prosperity is spreading as wages rise and workers demand better treatment. Furthermore, the quality of life is improving thanks to upgrades in transportation, health standards, and a wealth of technological advancements.

Increased opportunity and success is leading to higher disposable incomes and ideal target markets as the new Chinese consumer emerges, ready to spend. See below China’s consumer spending trend over the last ten years:

 

 

What is driving the Chinese consumer? Markets dealing with luxury items and services are bursting with opportunity and demand.

Interest continues to increase in:
• technological products
• luxury brands
• cosmetics
• nutritional care
• trendy foods
• high-quality goods
• entertainment
• travel

Get specific: See why Hong Kong is a great place to start

“The time is now. Be part of the process as China becomes tomorrow’s economic powerhouse.”
Ready to expand your business and break into China’s upcoming markets? Call now for a consultation with an IncorpChina team member, and establish your most important relationship in China success. +1 561 729 6508 | info@incorpchina.com
#chinesebusiness #chineseculture #whychina #chineseindustry #RO #JV #WOFE #chineseeconomy #GDP #thenewconsumer #culturaldifferences #chinesemarket #economictrends #AIC

10 steps to authenticate your U.S. documents to be used in China

This might be something you have not given a whole lot of thought in the past. However, Chinese authentication of US documents is required with almost every application process you will encounter on the road of opening your own China business entity. Registration of an entity in China requires documentation preparation in the US and China. We will help you with documentation preparation in both the US and China saving you time and money. Having your American documents authenticated by the Chinese Consulate means they have passed the official screening to be used in China.

Failing to prepare your foreign documents may result in the delay or refusal of your applications. Here’s a guide on how you can complete this initial process in ten steps:

1. Identify documents

At first, you will need to select the documents that need legalization and clarify who is the legal representative/applicant for the company.

2. Notarization

There are some instances in which the US documents need to be notarized. In this case, we have a specialized legal services providers network to help you in completing this step easily.

3. Fill out document authentication form

Your legal representative/applicant (as defined in step one) now has to fill out and sign the Chinese application for document authentication. Because forms may vary, depending on in which state you want to apply for US document authentication, visit the respective state’s Chinese consulate website to find the correct form.

For the New York China consulate, e.g. you can find the document here: http://newyork.china-consulate.org/chn/fwzc/cgbg/P020171201186551196801.pdf

(Leave section 1 and 7 blank. Have legal representative/applicant sign twice in section 8 (top and bottom). We fill out section 7 and sign as the agent in section 8.)

4. Compile supporting documents

The next step is to obtain a copy of the following supporting documents:

  • The legal representative’s/applicant’s passport
  • Company’s certificate of existence and good standing
  • Articles of incorporation

5. Submit the documents

Submit the documents that need to be legalized by the State Department or Secretary of State to be certified. Some states require to authenticate the documents through the county’s clerk office before submitting them to the State Department or Secretary of State, so be sure to check.

6. Keep a record

Once the documents are certified by the State Department (and possibly the county clerk’s office) make a photocopy of them for your own records as well as the next step.

7. Submit the docs to the Consulate

Go to the Chinese consulate or embassy and submit the originals as well as the photocopies of the certified documents along with the application for the authentication and supporting documents.

8. Get a receipt

The consulate will issue a receipt with the total owed and the pick-up date for your documents.

9. Collect your authenticated documents

Return on the pick-up date with the receipt, pay the amount owed and process to then collect your authenticated documents.

10. Verify that all the documents have been authenticated

Once you’ve completed all the steps above, verify that all your documents have been authenticated. In case we have completed this process for you, we would then ship the authenticated documents back to you, our client, or wherever you want them shipped.

 

If you have any questions or would like to get a free consultation from us, simply email info@incorpchina.com or call +1 (561) 729 6508.

Like what you read?

Continue with 7 Benefits of Opening Up a Company in Hong Kong:

 

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7 benefits from opening up a company in Hong Kong




Besides being a prestigious business address, Hong Kong has a variety of benefits to offer for those who are looking to or already own a company in China. Ranging from financial over legislative to cultural reasons. Below are your top 7 benefits from opening up a company in Hong Kong together with a WOFE in Mainland China.

 

  1. Tax benefits

While you are expecting to pay 25% income tax on your profits in China, with a Hong Kong company under your name you are able to send said funds across the border for a 5% transfer fee. This method can save you a considerable amount of money, especially considering that funds can be transferred between China and Hong Kong companies without currency controls. What that means is, when sending money from China abroad, usually, there are extremely high fees in place as well as a maximum amount of money that can leave the country per person or company per year.

Additionally, Hong Kong operates under a territorial tax regime. This means that there is a zero percent tax rate on money that is not earned in Hong Kong. Profits earned in Hong Kong are subject to a 16.5% tax. On the other hand, startups are eligible for VAT tax refunds. Either way, income tax in Hong Kong is significantly less than on the mainland. The exact tax break will always depend on the industry of your company as well as the location of your WOFE. In the QianHai zone in Shenzhen, for example, companies are given a particularly generous tax break.
To find out about this in more detail, contact Incorp China to get first-hand tax advise from local accounting and tax experts.

 

  1. Free economy and trade

Imports from abroad to Hong Kong are significantly easier to arrange and cheaper than transporting goods straight into Mainland China. Under CEPA, an agreement between Hong Kong and China with the aim to encourage trade, Hong Kong goods can even be imported into China under zero tariffs, as long as said goods and your company complies with CEPA rules. (http://www.hktdc.com/resources/MI/Article/cepa1/2009/06/274914/1244104141867_cepapdf.pdf) If you are planning on regularly moving cargo across Chinese borders, Incorp China would strongly advise talking to us about setting up an entity in Hong Kong.

 

  1. Intellectual property

Other than in Mainland China, Hong Kong takes into consideration the prior use of intellectual property when filing for trademarks, patents, copyrights, etc. China, on the other hand, operates under the first-to-file principle. If you are interested in finding out about the Chinese trademark system in more detail, please read more about it here.

 

  1. Familiar and regulated legal system

Whether tax law, intellectual property registration and enforcement, an open economy or the general bureaucratic processes, Hong Kong offers a much more Western mindset when it comes to legal systems and business culture. Familiar documents, consistent bureaucratic procedures and English speaking government officials can offer a smoother entrance into the Asian business world, not just for inexperienced businessmen. Bureaucratic processes can furthermore be executed more rapidly in Hong Kong than they would in China. For example, changing the structure of your company by reallocating shares would take about two months in China, whereas such an action would only require about a week in Hong Kong.

 

  1. Hong Kong as an international node

The proximity to the mainland and its open, capitalist mindset make Hong Kong the perfect connecting point between East and West. Strong economic ties with the ASEAN countries as well as a trustworthy environment for Western investors make Hong Kong a fertile ground for businesses from all around the world. The combined understanding of both the Western and Eastern business and cultural mentality will prove to be beneficial in more ways than you would expect.

 

  1. Relatively hassle-free setup

…especially if you are turning to Incorp China to help you out! We are offering a free initial consultation to help you figure out how to open up a company stress-free.

Hong Kong companies take less time to open in comparison to Chinese enterprises. More importantly, government institutions are considerably more straightforward and consistent regarding their requirements for opening an entity. In Mainland China, rules and regulations can change unexpectedly and abruptly, making it absolutely essential to have a team on the ground that is tirelessly checking up on your application and actively pushing it forward. On top of legislative changes, in China, it is common that institutions like banks or government bureaus will change their mind unexpectedly about a signature or document they require on top of what you were instructed to provide. Don’t let this discourage you as this is a commonly observed phenomenon, especially towards foreigners.

 

  1. Simplified China WOFE setup

Opening a Hong Kong entity makes applying for a Chinese WOFE significantly easier. Hong Kong incorporation documents are filed in English as well as Chinese which speeds up the process of incorporating a company on the Mainland.

 

  1. Limited liability

Setting up a limited liability company (LLC) in Hong Kong can protect you from lawsuits even in Mainland China. Since each shareholder of an LLC can only be held accountable for the capital they have invested and the Hong Kong company is liable for the registered capital in Mainland China, in case of a lawsuit, your personal capital outside of your business would be protected.

 

 

No doubt, a Hong Kong company can be highly beneficial to those planning to open up a company in China and even those who already own one. Nevertheless, if you are unsure or would like to talk to us about your specific situation. Don’t hesitate to contact us by calling us (+1 (561) 729 6508) or sending us an email (info@incorpchina.com).

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How to save money and time through effective negotiations.

Without any discussion, money and time are the most valued resource for business. For western companies, traveling to china can be an investment due to the utilization of this two resources. Think about the costs of traveling, lodge, transportation, and the time spent on meetings or any process like registration and permits application. This case is about how one of our clients has saved through our effective negotiations.

Paperwork is expensive

In this case we are not talking about the fees involved to get paperwork filled out and submitted to register a WOFE. We are talking about the clients’ travelling expenses to personally sign the documents in order to get them approved.

Thinking outside the box

It just so happened that a US client of ours, a jewellery manufacturer, had to fly to China for business reasons unrelated to us. While his WOFE application was pending and his licenses were being processed, the company did not officially exist yet in China. However, Incorp China believes in seizing opportunities. Since the client was already on the ground we decided to visit a local bank branch who we frequently work with. Could we open up a bank account for the soon-to-be company  saving the jewellery manufacturer the fare for a second trip across the world?

Patience and persistence

Usually it is absolutely impossible (even as a local Chinese) to get a bank account opened without the corresponding business license. With our local Chinese staff and a lot of patience, networking and preparation we were able to convince them how detrimental it is to this business to sign the required legal documents for a bank account right away. The bank account would be pending the readiness of the business license and tax certificate and be officially opened once both the WOFE business license and the tax certificate were approved.

If your company needs to get a service done quick, we will give it our best to deliver – just because, against all odds, it sometimes actually works. In this case we saved our client a few thousand US Dollars and a lot of personal time.

Read more about how we solve problems opening up bank accounts for foreigners

Convinced? Then take advantage of a free consultation! Call us today: +1 (561) 729 6508

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China’s 3-in-1 license

What is the 3-in-1 license?

The 3-in-1 license is a new format of the business license currently in existence. By the end of the calendar year 2017, all original business licenses must be updated in order for the company to be able to continue operating. The updated business license will merge three company certificates – the firms’s business license, tax certificate and organization code – that had to be issued separately so far. As a result, your company will officially run under a single social credit code.

 

Why implement such a change?

This new legislation is being enforced only months after the government’s update of the fapiao system. (Read more about that here.) Both legislative changes follow the common goal of better communication between government bureaus, streamline official procedures and ensure a more centralized supervision of all companies.

 

How to switch from a standard business license to the new model?

There are nine steps to updating your business license.

  1. Prepare your application, consisting of an Application Form, Application Report, your current business license, tax certificate and organization code certificate.
    This application then has to be submitted to multiple institutions in order to update their record.
  2. The Commercial and Industrial Administration Bureau will be the first to receive your application.
  3. Upon approval by CIAB, the documents have to be submitted to both the local Tax Bureau and National Tax Bureau, to update their records
  4. After getting approval from the above tax bureaus, the Market and Quality Supervision Commission will need to be updated
  5. Then, all banks your company is holding accounts with have to be notified by providing them with the approved documents
  6. At the local Foreign Exchange Registration Bureau, your Foreign Exchange Registration Certificate has to be updated with your new business license
  7. Your new information will also be captured in your Financial Registration Certificate at the Finance Bureau
  8. Afterwards, the Social Insurance Bureau…
  9. …and lastly, the Housing Fund Bureau will have to be updated.

All in all, this will take a few weeks to complete. The new business license model is mandatory for all types of business entities, apart from self-employed individuals.

 

Does this apply to every region equally?

In Shenzhen and Zhejiang Province, the 3-in-1 license will technically be a 5-in-1 license, also replacing the Social Security Registration Certificate as well as the Statistics Registration Certificate. Shanghai and Guangzhou, however, decided to abandon the Statistics Registration Certificate altogether. Beijing-based companies benefit from an extended transition period, ending with the calendar year 2020. Some provinces do handle their transitions with slight variations, however generally the updated legislation affects businesses across China equally.

Why go through all the hassle by yourself? Incorp China will happily assist you with your move from a standard business license to the updated 3-in-1 model. Your top priority is to look after your everyday business. It is ours to support you.

In case you have any questions or are looking for a free consultation, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Call us or write us an email: +1 (561) 729 6508, info@incorpchina.com.

We do much more than just looking for your business license!

Have a look at our different services here.

Or read about how we can help you open a bank account – even under tightening restrictions for foreigners – here!

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The New Fapiao Legislation Explained

Effective 1st July 2017, the State Administration of Taxation extended its requirements for fapiao issuance. All companies need to add their taxpayer identification number on all issued VAT tax invoices (fapiaos) in addition to the original information. The notice was given under the Taxation Notice No. 16 of 2017.. 16 of 2017.

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A sample of a VAT tax rebate receipt (fapiao).

 

What does this mean? Why?

Originally, a fapiao only had to include four components. The paying company’s name, its company address, a description of the good or service being sold as well as its price, and the government issued red stamp. The latest regulation entails that those receiving the receipt have to provide their company’s unique taxpayer identification number in addition to the original requirements. This law, at first, only applied to VAT fapiaos that were intended for tax deducing purposes. Now, however, it includes all normal VAT fapiaos as well. This adjustment in the legislation is supposed to aid the Chinese government in tracking a company’s exact income and expenses in an effort to eliminate tax fraud.

How to find out your taxpayer ID number?

To find out what your company’s taxpayer identification number is, have a look at your business license. Every company receives a unique taxpayer ID number upon registration for tax filing purposes. In case you are the owner of multiple different companies, you will have received a separate taxpayer ID number for each.

 

Are individuals attributed a taxpayer ID number?

No, only companies receive a taxpayer ID number upon their registration.

 

What should you do?

Incorp China advises all its customers to have a physical or digital note on them clearly stating the company’s name as well as the taxpayer identification number. Having this information both in English and pinyin will make fapiao issuance as easy and hassle-free as possible. The new taxpayer number has to be filled into the line located right underneath the company’s name. Every time you ask for the issuance of a fapiao, please double-check whether the taxpayer identification number has been included and whether it is correct. If either isn’t the case you will not be able to record the fapiao in your accounting books. This means you will not be able to deduct the fapiao’s value from your taxes.

 

 

If you have any further questions or concerns, please call us under +1 (561) 729 6508 or write us an email at info@incorpchina.com.

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How Important Is To Have Local Representatives In China?

While every business needs to keep a tight grip on their expenses, some investments do truly pay off. One of such investments is hiring a local company in China to represent your business here. Why? Because Chinese bureaucracy and law is of complicated and ever-changing nature. Even more importantly, here, nobody stands a chance doing paperwork over the phone. Doing business face-to-face remains the most effective and respectful after all.

Incorp China was just retained by a Human Resource company based in the US to register their consulting WOFE (Wholly Owned Foreign Enterprise) in China. As part of establishing a WOFE, the company is required to own a bank account at a Chinese bank. Until the recent crack down on money laundering by the central government, representatives were able to open up bank accounts on behalf of their clients as long as an attorney was present.

china local representatives,China, money, Yuan, Renminbi, bank, currency, economics, market, growth, legislation, law, change of law, change of legislation, security, opening up business, WOFE, FICE,incorpchina, incorp chinaNow, however, the client himself has to make the request personally, which is not only a time intensive procedure but often impossible, as our clients tend to be based overseas. This issue doesn’t just affect businesses on Chinese main land but equally in Hong Kong. Since Incorp China is a small boutique consultancy our management is able to personally oversee every project we take on.

In this case Incorp China’s CEO, Robert Fisch, went directly to the bank manager’s office to first establish guanxi over tea, talking about their families and personal life, before addressing the issue of the bank account. Having initiated a personal connection, the bank manager instructed his employees to open the account for Incorp China’s client that same day even though the customer could not be present.

While this case reflects the benefits of hiring a local consultancy very well, there is a deeper reason why a company might employ an advisory team for business in China. Rules and regulations are constantly changing in every country around the world. Other than in the Western hemisphere, however, laws made in Beijing when funnelled down to the provincial level, are being translated and reinterpreted differently in every part of the country. Fully understanding the impact of such non-transparent law on individual companies, and arguably even more importantly, knowing what legal changes to expect in advance, is crucial to every successful enterprise. Incorp China’s task is to stay informed and ahead of the game so we can give your business the best advice for its growth and success.

For any additional enquiries, please contact info@incorpchina.com or call us on +1 (561) 729 6508

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In China, Guanxi Can Open Many Doors – And Borders

Some life lessons are best conveyed through a story. This one is about never underestimating what power an extensive guanxi holds in China.
Guanxi is the mandarin term for the network, the connection people form privately and in business relation to one another over a long period of time. Other than in Western cultures, China doesn’t differentiate between personal and professional relationships. Upholding one’s ‘face’, one’s reputation, making new connections and maintaining them becomes an omnipresent necessity.
There hasn’t been a single client for whom we didn’t need to make good use of our extensive guanxi network.
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Offshore oil platforms. Photo: Chad Teer

One particularly interesting case was a logistics project for a multinational oil company we worked on a few years back. Construction parts had to be delivered to an off shore oil platform over night or else the 400 employees working on the platform would have had to be evacuated via helicopter. Six government officials ranging from police over inspection to immigration officers would have to be convinced to keep the border open long past their regular hours to ship the cargo across – and we had only one day to do exactly that.
The negotiations started at the Hong Kong airport with the customs director. He needed to agree to wave the goods through customs clearance prioritizing it to other shipments. While in the Western business world a simple call from an insider might be the correct approach, our CEO personally sat down with the customs director for tea. Slowly guiding the conversation from personal exchange to business affairs our CEO’s excellent knowledge of the Cantonese language helped form common ground and resulted in a successful endeavor.
With the cargo out of the airport ahead of time the next hurdle were the borders. What proved to be problematic were the border’s operating hours between Hong Kong and China preventing the construction parts to be passed through before the deadline. Keeping open a border beyond scheduled times requires, firstly, the border officials of both countries to be in agreement and, secondly, a trail of legal documents permitting such an inconvenience. In wise foresight, Mr. Fisch, our CEO, had already payed the Chinese border commander a visit on his way to Hong Kong. Usually, these types of high-ranking officials would never accept the visit of a foreigner. Mr. Fisch, however, instead of attempting to make an appointment, walked through the government building as if he belonged there, straight into the commander’s office. He immediately started conversing in Mandarin. Stunned by an American speaking fluent Chinese and being this straightforward, the officer invited our CEO to enjoy tea together.
After, again, a very private conversation about their backgrounds, families and commonalities guanxi was established and one could move on to business affairs. The Chinese border commander helped Incorp China not only to acquire the approval of the police, customs and immigration but even agreed to organize a chopper waiting nearby the border to transport the cargo directly from behind the Chinese frontier to the company’s offshore platform.
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Shenzhen FongTin to Hong Kong Bridge. Photo: WiNG

On the Hong Kong side of the border the Hong Kong border commander who made a grand entrance with his two bodyguards greeted our CEO. The initial encounter was rather tense but after tea, good conversation and Mr. Fisch’s ‘renqingwei’ (English interpretation: “human touch/flavor”) he managed to get through to the officer. Since the Hong Kong border commander was seemingly nervous about granting such a great exception, Mr. Fisch called the Chinese border commander to speak to him personally over the phone. With reassuring words the two officers came to an agreement.

It was an achievement comparable to a miracle. Never before had the border been left open without the time consuming effort of preparing the legal documents required. The vital construction parts passed customs, inspection, and the boarder without problems and were delivered on time for the platform to undergo repairs. Our client was able to keep his business in operation and none of the employees had to be evacuated. With no representatives on Chinese ground who could have personally convinced Chinese officials in their native languages to help this company, huge financial losses couldn’t have been prevented. Establishing and maintaining a strong guanxi is vital and simply cannot be done form afar or by someone not in touch with Chinese customs and manners.

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