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Opening Up a Bank Account in China, credit card, Opening Up a Bank Account Under Tightened Restrictions - What You Need to Know

Opening Up a Bank Account Under Tightened Restrictions – What You Need to Know

Why opening a bank account in China is more difficult today

It is no secret that the recent crackdown on money laundering has left foreigners struggling to open a bank account in China. As a result, it has become even more beneficial for foreigners, seeking to move or extend their business to China, to consult an agent on the ground. The reason why there are so many China consultancies on the market is because it’ is quite challenging as well as time and labor intensive to get a company approved. Only a few of these China consultants are as committed as Incorp China, connecting with the government bureaus and banks, forming friendships, and therefore getting our clients the service they deserve.

Going beyond obvious

One of our most recent clients, a US software security company, had to open up a bank account after his company license had been approved. In order to do just that, our team went to one of the bigger China Construction Bank (CCB) branches located not too far from our office. Unfortunately, since banks had tightened their requirements over the past couple of months, our first request was denied. Why, is open for speculation.

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The China Construction Bank is one of the ‘big four’ banks in China – and one of the 10 largest banks in the world by revenue.

As Robert Fisch, Incorp China’s CEO did not want our client to have to fly back to China in order to give it another try at another bank, he went into the branch again with two members of his team. At the CCB branch, he found the employee who had refused our application, talked to her, and tried to find out why our client got refused and what we could do to fix it. When this did not work out, he managed to find the account manager.

The account manager, respectful and courteous as the Chinese treat their guests, offered us tea and his time in the staff kitchen. There, the Incorp China team and he talked, tea, took pictures and we each showed interest in each others’ jobs, cultures, and languages. After a while, the account manager promised to help us in every way he could, but that he would first need to get approval from the branch manager. She, luckily, was on site this day.

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The account manager was incredibly friendly and helpful and introduced us to the branch manager, who agreed to see us immediately. Again, the Incorp team were offered tea, we talked in the CCB branch manager’s office about this and that – starting with small talk but ending up talking about family, the beauty of China and how rapidly it has evolved in the past decades. The manager did not, however, clearly state how she was going to help us, despite being very friendly and enthusiastic about our visit. Nevertheless, she did make sure to let us know that she wanted to assist us in the process.

When we went to visit the branch a second time, the mood was slightly more dampened and the odds did not look like they were in our favor. Even a long meeting, talking about all the technicalities of the bank account opening procedure, did not change or clarify anything.

Unfortunately, for the following couple of days, there was honestly more confusion than progress. Nobody could really tell us what had gone wrong, what we needed to do to get the process going, or whether, in the end, they couldn’t do anything for us at all.

Therefore, our CEO headed back into the branch and had a meeting with all managers he could find on site together. After, yet again, some tea and chatter, the situation looked a lot better. We finally got a hint of what had gone wrong, and after ensuring the team at the bank branch that we would love to bring them more business, they understood that we were as serious about the legislations as they are. They agreed to restart the bank account opening process all over again – a clean slate – without the head of the client’s company having to travel to China again.

It’s all about client support

While this was time-consuming for our team, it got us connected with the CCB branch team near us, taught us yet another lesson about China’s bank requirements, and reminded us that with friendliness, patience, and a true passion for our field, every problem can be resolved. We are thankful for all of the China Construction Bank team’s time and effort and their dedication to their clients. Even more so we are proud to have resolved this issue for our clients and helped them to the best of our ability.

The trick to why all of these meetings with the managers of the bank’s branch where possible, and ultimately why they listened to us, was for Incorp China’s boss to speak Mandarin fluently. His China experience, consisting of well over 30 years and counting, gave us the insight into what is and what isn’t possible in such delicate situations, and, perhaps more importantly, displayed the legitimacy and seriousness of our business. It showed that Incorp China is helping both Western companies as much as the Chinese economy by bringing them here. We have been here for a long time and are intending to stay. This feeling of stability combined with our China knowledge has helped us more than once in negotiating a great deal for our clients.

Therefore, it is truly important and money well invested to have somebody on the ground in China who can provide this support to your business.

If you are currently looking into expanding or moving your business to China, let us do your paperwork for you so you can fully concentrate on your business. Call us for a free consultation today at +1 (561) 729 6508, or write us an email at info@incorpchina.com. We are looking forward to hearing from you.

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China, money, Yuan, Renminbi, bank, currency, economics, market, growth, legislation, law, change of law, change of legislation, security, opening up business, WOFE, FICE

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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