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6 Ways to Ensure Your First Business Trip to China Runs Smoothly

25 October 2013

1.   Take your own health products

Unless can read Chinese, you may have difficulty finding health products in China so it’s best to take essential first-aid items and general medication with you. Take more prescription medication than you’ll likely need and leave them in their original packaging. Taking Imodium, Ibuprofen and Benadryl (for allergies) is also advisable for a hassle-free trip.

Ensure you only drink bottled water and pack a good insect repellent – for the best protection against mosquitos you’ll need a repellent that contains DEET.

2.   Know what medical care is available

Medical care is generally good across China’s major cities, although some hospitals can be quite crowded. Outside the main cities, the standard of healthcare is more variable. Medical bills in China can be extremely high so make sure you have comprehensive travel insurance for the duration of your stay.

Note: The high levels of air pollution in major urban and industrialised areas in China may aggravate bronchial, sinus or asthma conditions.

3.   Adhere to business customs and etiquette

Business dress in China is conservative and the usual business greeting is with a handshake, followed by an exchange of business cards. People are addressed by their proper titles so always wait for your host to indicate if first names are appropriate.

Trust and integrity are viewed as highly important business traits in China. Punctuality for meetings is extremely important and being late can be seen as insulting and could even negatively impact your business. For extra kudos with your Chinese business associates, get your business cards printed in Chinese!

4.   Be aware of crime in China’s crowded cities

Most trips to China for both business visitors and tourists take place without incident. However, foreigners can be easy targets for passport, laptop, mobile phone and bag thieves.

Take extra care at major tourist sites, street markets, major international events or conferences and popular bar areas after dark. If your passport is lost or stolen, report it to the nearest police station or Public Security Bureau, who will issue you with a ‘confirmation of loss’ report.

5.   Don’t fall prey to scams

Beware of less obvious crimes in popular tourist spots too. A regular example is the ‘tea tasting’ scam, which involves the business traveller or tourist being invited to a bar or cafe – perhaps to assist somebody with their English – but transcends into demands for extortionate sums, credit card fraud or even threats of violence.

Although not widespread, there are occasional incidents with some taxi drivers who insist the passenger misunderstood the fare. Avoid travelling in unmarked or unmetered taxis and only pay the logged metred fare.

Counterfeit bank notes are also increasingly common in some of China’s cities. These are generally crumpled to avoid detection so check carefully before accepting notes.

6.   Check if you need anti-malaria tablets and travel vaccinations

Although some short term travellers to China’s major cities choose not to have any vaccinations, it’s sensible to consult your doctor for the most up to date advice. Start your health planning well in advance of your business trip as some vaccinations require several injections over a period of time.

Malaria tablets will probably be recommended by your doctor if you plan to travel to more rural areas, so check this in advance too. If in doubt, complete an online anti-malaria tablets consultation.

With its bustling cities and high population, China can be a disorientating place for the first-time visitor. However, if you heed the above health and personal safety precautions and abide by Chinese etiquette, you should find that your first business trip to China runs both smoothly and successfully.

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