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Last updated : Nov 2009
China Business
China Business Overview - TravelPuppy.com
China Economy

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 people.

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 and manganese.

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 transport.

Minerals 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.

Office hours: Monday-Friday 08:00-17:00, midday break of 1-2 hours.

Commercial Information

The below organisation can offer advice:

China 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: info@ccpit.org).


The below organisations can offer advice:

China International Travel Service (CITS) or Department of Marketing and Promotion, China National Tourism Administration (see Contact section).
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