The Importance of Speaking Chinese when doing business in China

The Importance of Speaking Mandarin when doing business in China

Exporting Goods to China can be a profitable endeavor. They resell products from around the world and can accomplish a respectable income for all parties involved. It can be difficult, however, to secure the proper connections when there is a language barrier.

China is one of the leading parties when it comes to exports but they are also a large fast-growing economy with a growing opportunity for importing profitable products.

Anyone interested in exporting to China should begin by looking at their culture and finding out what they value, which may be entirely different than in your home country. Cultural research and language study can go a long way toward helping you reach your goals.

Better Business Relations

It is essential to form a viable working relationship with those involved in product trade. While English is a commonly spoken language around the world, it can seem rude to assume that everyone speaks it.

You can ruin your relations with other business representatives when you expect them to speak your language. You would not expect this from anyone else. When you have some degree of fluency in the Native Language, the other party has options.

Even if you end up most of your business in English, it is polite to initiate the conversation in their native language and let them choose. That shows that you have a sincere interest in long-term business relations.

It may be best to start with Mandarin, as this is the most widely spoken language in the country. Another overlooked benefit of being able to speak the native language where you do business this that it makes it easier to spot errors or even fraud.

More Profitable Opportunities 

When you are choosing your export destination, you may work with the main cities most of the time. Shanghai and Beijing are popular business centers. You may become accustomed to meeting English-speaking individuals when dealing with partners in these areas. It is also easier to find a quality translator in major cities.

You may, however, wish to expand your business to reach more remote locations, where the possibility of encountering someone who knows your native tongue may drop significantly. When you speak Mandarin, your business opportunities arise. That can lead to increased revenue for your company.

Efficiency and Accuracy

Even with today’s modern computer systems, there are times when communicating with a human being is necessary to complete a transaction. There are many details involved when securing transportation and pick-up of materials in the receiving country.

You may be able to arrange your export with minimal communication skills; however, they may be incredibly inefficient. When you can’t ask questions and explain your desires, the entire transaction may be incredibly unorganized. There may also be misunderstandings concerning the destination, special handling instructions, and details about payment.

Increasing Profit

The entire reason for initiating an export is usually to make a profit. When you do not speak the native language of the people in your product’s destination, you can lose money. You may end up paying more fees because you have no choice but to deal with English-speaking representatives.

This service may only be available from more expensive companies. Translators are more readily available in the major cities, yet they cause you to incur extra charges in many situations. When you can speak Mandarin, the official language of China, you have more choices about those with whom you do business.

Not only can this end up saving you a significant amount of money, but it may also help to encourage trade with small local business owners instead of large corporations. The money you spend could be going to a worthy cause.

Long-Term Profitability

Exporting may be something that you would like to continue to do in the future. These endeavors are usually a long-term investment. All businesses require good working relationships with other companies. When you speak the language of other business people, it makes the entire transaction easier.

People may be more willing to work with you again if communication goes well. A successful deal is a goal for parties on both ends. You become dependable when your language capabilities are exceptional. That leads to long-term cooperation with companies in China. It can be comforting to see the same faces as you complete transactions throughout many years.

Finding your way around

It may be necessary to visit China for final negotiations and things like trade shows. Some business owners remain in China for long periods, which involves a lot of interaction with native Mandarin speakers. You are likely to encounter the need to communicate from the minute you arrive at the airport.

Lack of language skills may be an issue if you must find your way around a big city. You may need to converse about transportation, accommodations, and your business goals. Even if you are not fluent, it is incredibly helpful to be able to ask simple questions and to respond to key phrases.


It is common sense to be respectful of anyone with whom you are doing business. Asian communities, however, take this more seriously than others. When you learn the language, be sure to pay attention to formal greetings and forms of pronouns.

When dealing with business people you have just met, it is essential to use both formal verbal and body language. Some languages do not have massive differences in diction. That can lead to you looking disrespectful in an important business meeting. Even if you do not perfect these tactics, any effort you show can help to improve the interaction.


When you work in any office, even in your home country, there are often personal relationships that form. A language barrier can prevent you from making new friends. When you are working with people daily, it is more enjoyable when you can get to know each other.

You may spend hours together and wish to converse more naturally. Both parties making an effort to learn a new language shows a mutual caring for the other’s comfort and well-being.

Exporting is a viable business option. As with any enterprise, however, it is vital that you dedicate some time to learn about the best strategies. There is more to exporting than familiarity with the techniques and locations.

Many people are involved in making each transaction happen, and when you can communicate with them, you increase your chances of making an efficient trade, securing repeat business, and saving money.

By BG Greene 

Learning Chinese, business in China

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