The third of my one minute reflections on Gordon Orr’s ‘Pocket Guide to doing Business in China.’

Succeeding in China is less about what you do and more about how you do it.

China is extremely sensitive – with good historical justification – about foreign control and exploitation. So success in China requires adopting – and demonstrating – an attitude of close, respectful and committed partnership.

At a practical level, most foreign enterprises will need to operate in a joint venture. This is not a stepping stone, it’s permanent – so choose the partner carefully.

You need to be represented by someone sufficiently senior and skilled to build strong relationships with local management, the joint venture partner and your company headquarters. This is a long term commitment, so don’t choose someone too young and on their way up the career ladder.

You cannot delegate relationship-building, so be clear what the hierarchy is on both sides – and then show up.

Staff turnover will be high, so plan for it. Ground your business on core relationships – which may include the children of government officials when necessary (you don’t have to employ them). Then you can hire liberally and weed out aggressively.