The vast Chinese economy has slowly developed since
the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949.
Its basic structure is mainly that of a developing country, with
the majority of the people employed on the land. However, there
is a sizeable industrial base and expanding pockets of advanced
technological and manufacturing enterprises,
concentrated around the eastern coast and the Special Administrative/Economic
Zones (including Hong Kong and Macau).
The economy has experienced rapid and consistent
growth of about 8 to 9% annually
since the late 1980s when economic reforms were introduced. However,
the new prosperity and wealth has not been evenly distributed causing
major disparities between what are sometimes called ‘blue
China’ – the coastal cities and
Special Zones – and the
inland ‘brown China’ of low-quality
agriculture, antiquated industrial operations
and significant social and economic deprivation.
Although modernisation of the agricultural
sector is ongoing, there has been a large shift
of the population from the countryside to the cities. And the government
still plans to complete huge engineering endeavors such as the Three
Gorges Dam project, which could displace up to 1 million
China is the world’s
leading producer of rice and a major producer of
grain and cereals. Large mineral deposits,
especially coal and iron ore,
provide the raw material for a vast steel industry. China is self-sufficient
in oil and is starting to develop a petrochemicals
industry. Additional important minerals include
molybdenium, tungsten, lead, tin,
bauxite (aluminum), phosphates
Over the past 10 years, central government policy has changed the
emphasis in development from heavy to light industry and promoted
the evolution of a service sector. Chemicals
and high technology industries have grown significantly
quickly. The fundamental changes in the Chinese economy were introduced
under what was labeled the ‘socialist market economy’,
under which market strategies were developed to attract foreign
investment and better trade terms. Foreign firms were encouraged
both to sell products in China and to start joint ventures –
under specific conditions – with Chinese commercial organisations.
Such problems as surfaced came into perspective by the 1997 Asian
economic crisis. China, due to its vast domestic market and tightly
regulated banking system, didn't suffer nearly as much as many of
the region’s smaller economies.
Government goals for production and growth were still met and still
are. In 2003, the economy skyrocketed and achieved 10% growth, the
trade balance showed a significant surplus,
and price inflation was negligible. China’s
chief imports are energy-related
products, telecommunications, electronics
and manufactured goods are the main exports.
The economy has already started to reap the benefits of China’s
recently gained membership of the World Trade Organisation
in 2001. (This was a major foreign policy achievement for
the Jiang government).
China's principal trading partners are Germany,
Japan and the USA.
The metric system is used for weights and measures, however many
old Chinese weights and measures are still used. Weight is often
used when selling Liquids and eggs. The Chinese foot is 1.0936 of
an English Foot (0.33m).
Suits are the appropriate attire for business visits. Make appointments
in advance and arrive on time. Business cards should include a Chinese
translation on the reverse. Business visitors are normally invited
to restaurants where it is customary to arrive a little early. The
host will usually toast the visitor.
It is customary to treat the host or hostess to a reciprocal dinner.
Business travellers in particular should be aware that the United
Kingdom recognizes the government of the People’s Republic
of China as being the only government of China, as do the United
Nations. The best time for business visits are from April to June
and September to October.
Monday-Friday 08:00-17:00, midday break of 1-2 hours.
The below organisation can offer advice:
Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT).
London office: 40-41 Pall Mall, London SW1Y
5JQ, UK (tel: (020) 7321-2044; fax: (020) 7321-2055).
Beijing office: 1 Fu Xing Men Wai Jie, Beijing
100860 (tel: (10) 6802 0229 or 6803-4823; fax: (10) 6801-1370 or
6803-0747; email: firstname.lastname@example.org).
The below organisations can offer advice:
International Travel Service (CITS) or Department
of Marketing and Promotion, China National Tourism
Administration (see Contact section).