Chapter 19 – Know the Tricks of the Trade

Chinese negotiators are shrewd and use a wide variety of bargaining tactics. The following are just a few of their more common strategies:

Controlling the Meeting Place and Schedule

The Chinese know that foreigners who have traveled all the way to China will be reluctant to return home empty-handed. Putting pressure on foreigners just before their scheduled return can often bring useful benefits to the Chinese side.

Threatening to Do Business Elsewhere

Foreign negotiators may be pressured into making concessions when the Chinese side threatens to approach rival firms if their demands are not met.

Using Friendship to Extract Concessions

Once both sides have met, the Chinese side may remind the foreigners that true friends would reach an agreement of maximum mutual benefit. Make sure that the benefit is genuinely mutual and not just one-way.

Showing Anger

Despite the Confucian aversion to the display of anger, the Chinese side may put on a display of calculated anger to put pressure on the foreign party, who may be afraid of losing the contract.


Chinese negotiators are patient and can stretch out discussions in order to wear their opposing business associates down. Excessive hospitality the evening before discussions can be another variation on this theme.

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