#Business in #China ~ #Contracts

4 Jun

One of the problems I repeatedly encounter in China is the fact that they view contracts as “guidelines rather than actual rules.” The American business system and legal system interprets a contract as law — If you agreed to it, you MUST do it. The Chinese professionals I have worked with interpret contracts as “this is what we think might work, but it’s always open to reinterpretation and change later.” One year I was actually told (after completing all of the required work) “Oh, well, what we said was really just too excessive so we’ve decided not to pay you that.”

This is a VERY big problem and a huge source of discord between the Chinese and foreign workers. Americans are expecting things by the book, but in China you need adaptability. On the other hand, the Chinese are promising more than they deliver and breaking promises. If you are considering working in an American-Chinese business or teaching atmosphere, I highly recommend you discuss this issue before signing contracts. Talk to the other side and verify how they view a contract — law or general guideline. Find a way to agree on what will be included and then keep the promises you do agree to.

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