Last year massive industrial explosions in Tianjin were pinned on issues including IT infrastructure. “They were not diligent that security systems for checking and testing worked,” she says. Now China will look more at GRC, she predicts.
In other areas, Chinese are quick to embrace new technologies in ways that Westerners haven’t. Take laptops, for example. Most business people may have a desktop, but most don’t have laptops that they carry around. They do all their mobile computing on cell phones, she says.
Outside of technology, even when it comes to standard practices like contract negotiations, there are curve balls. When Zhang worked for a German pharmaceutical company it sat down with potential Chinese business partners to hash out a voluminous contract, she says. The Chinese partners seemed disinterested in the German presentation, then one of them pulled out a two-page document they said should replace the one they had been working on. The flummoxed Germans had to call for a break so they could regroup.
This type of jarring tactic isn’t so common anymore among large Chinese internationals, but it can crop up dealing with smaller firms, such as local businesses that may be part of a supply chain, so Westerners should be aware. “Expect a lot of unexpected things in China,” she says.
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