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3 expert tips for doing business in China

3 expert tips for doing business in China

Naked Leader Week 794 – 29 October 2018

Time to Read: 5 minutes

3 expert tips for doing business in China

This month, Clive Barrett, speaks with Jingru Liu, Director China Advisory Services at BDO LLP: was

When you first meet Jingru Liu, it is a disarming experience. Given her job title – Director China Advisory Services at BDO LLP, her strong reputation as an expert on how to do Business in China and the way Jingru is talked about by Naked Leader Founder David Taylor, I openly admit to being somewhat nervous.

Her welcoming smile, humble attitude and bubbly personality soon put me at ease, and within 15 minutes I felt like I was talking to an old friend. Or to be more accurate, a young friend – her track record, knowledge and experience are breath-taking for one so young, energetic and enthusiastic.

Jingru’s main passion is to help companies from the West do business with, and in China, and vice versa. Indeed, she believes there are so many misunderstandings and misconceptions by both East and West that Jingru has just completed a new ‘two in one book’, co-written with David.

To be published early next year, ‘How to Really Do Business in China” is written by Jingru, supported by David, and when you flip the book over ‘How to Really Do Business in The West’ is by David, supported by Jingru.

They are the living embodiment of China and the UK – East and West – working together, to help leaders and organisations in the West be successful in China, and equally help Chinese Entrepreneurs and companies find faster success in the West, especially with investments in existing companies.

Listening to Jingru, I was struck by how similar in approach she has to David – both putting practical how-tos over theory. Not without academic gravitas through – with academic contacts from both countries – Fudan University, in Shanghai, one of the most prestigious and selective universities in China, and from Cambridge University in the UK.

Jingru’s Top Tip and 3 Actions for Western leaders seeking success in China.

China is DIFFERENT, not difficult.

  • Build strong, Chinese, local management teams and give them a lot of local freedom – they are the ones who will know their area, province and country. These local teams are the key to your success. Companies with overpowering, controlling Western HQ will not succeed – ask Marks and Spencer, whose investment in China was a failure because they didn’t take on board this first key to success – what works in the West won’t necessarily work in China.
  • Trust is everything in China – that is trust in you as a human being, which is way more important than trust in any business plan. If you don’t take the time to build the trust, you will be on an early flight home. Be prepared, and ready to enjoy long, enjoyable lunches and dinners and never raise the topic of business before they do (they will definitely do). To build that trust, and to really understand China and its vast size and different provinces, go to China, ask polite questions and listen.
  • Know the importance of age priorities in China. Every parent has two overriding priorities – for their children to be successful, especially academically, and to have enough money to grow old in as good health as possible, and to die with dignity. The new Chinese Millennials are the same in two respects – health and spending time with family – their big difference is a desire to travel, and so they have a more international view.

Jingru tells me their first book is the first of a series, all of which will publish in both Mandarin and English under the new Naked Leader Publishing brand.

Jingru has impressed David so much that she now advises David and the Naked Leader’s team on what they can do for China and how to do it.

She sees this as a “perfect match” as Naked Leader’s focus on helping people, teams and organisations to be successful, by being themselves, has its roots in the ancient philosophies of The Tao (Dao in China), Confucius and Zen.

Jingru and David continue to share stages around the world to bring together the best of the best approaches and understanding to business, leaders and communities.

It is a noble, positive and truly international message that I think is much needed in this world, at this time.

Thank you Jingru and Clive. If you have any recommendations or suggestions for future Leader Features please email

With my love and best wishes to you all



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