Quick Facts About China For Businessmen

by Chao Cheng, Wednesday, April 13th, 2016 at 3:03 am

(Doing Business in China)

I am compiling up these quick facts about China for your quick reference before you come to China.

Wish they will help.

Quick Facts About China For Businessmen

Quick Facts About China For Businessmen

Quick Facts about the Country

Formal name: People’s Republic of China (PRC)

Capital: Beijing

Population: 1,38 billion

China is the world’s most populous country, with over 1.38 billion people, and the second-largest country by land area.

  • Literacy Percent: (age 15+ can read and write)
    Total population: 91.6%
    Male: 95.7%
    Female: 87.6% (2007 estimate: CIA World Fact Book)

Key Economic Facts

  • GDP (purchasing power parity): US$10.355 trillion (2014, world bank)
    Country comparison to the world: #2 (behind U.S.)
  • GDP, per capita (exchange rate): US$8,211.486 (2015, IMF)
  • GDP, per capita, country comparison to the world: #73 (2015, IMF)
  • GDP, per capita (PPP): US$12,893.425 (2014, IMF)
  • China is the world’s largest exporter and second-largest importer of goods.
  • Major Trading partners: US, Hongkong, Japan, South Korea, Germany, Vietnam, United Kingdom, Netherlands, India, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia, Australia, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Russian, Brazil

National anthem: “Yiyonggjun Jinxingqu” (March of the Volunteers)

written in 1935, with lyrics by the poet Tian Han and music by the composer Nie Er, honoring those who went to the front to fight the Japanese invaders in northeast China in the 1930s.

National flag: Red flag with five stars

(adopted in September 1949 and first flown in Tiananmen Square on October 1, 1949). The color red represents revolution and the large star symbolizes communism. The smaller stars symbolize the four social classes: the working class, the peasantry, the urban petty bourgeoisie, and the national bourgeoisie (capitalists) –all united under the Communist Party of China

Important Persons

  • Head of State: President Xi JinPing
  • Head of government: Premier Li Keqiang


Important Days

  • National Day: Chinese celebrate October 1 as National Day in honor of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.
  • Independence: October 1, 1949 (People’s Republic of China established)
  • Unification under the Qin Dynasty: 221 BC
  • Qing Dynasty replaced by the Republic of China: January 1, 1912
  • Spring Festival (the celebration of Chinese New Year, late-January to mid-February depending on Lunar calendar)
  • International Labor Day (May 1)
  • Mid-Autumn Festival


34 Administrative Divisions

China is made up of

  • 23 provinces: Hebei, Shanxi, Liaoning, Jilin, Heilongjiang, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Anhui, Fujian, Jiangxi, Shandong, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Guangdong, Hainan, Sichuan, Guizhou, Yunnan, Shaanxi, Gansu, Qinghai, Taiwan*
  • 5 autonomous regions: Inner Mongolia, Guangxi, Tibet, Ningxia, Xinjiang 
  • 4 municipalities directly under the Central Government: Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Chongqing
  • 2 special administrative regions: Hong Kong and Macau

[*China considers Taiwan its 23rd province]

Dig Deeper: All You Need to Know about China City Tiers


Quick Facts about Communication

Language, Accents and Dialects

  • Official Language: Mandarin Chinese (Putonghua, based on the Beijing dialect). It is the common language that people from different parts of China communicate.
  • Written Form: Simplified Chinese in Mainland China
  • Accents: Each province and region have their own accented Mandarin Chinese and sometimes several kinds of dialects, which makes the communication in Mandarin Chinese challenging even among some Chinese natives from different parts of the country.
  • Dialects: Major dilects includes Cantonese(Yue), Shanghainese, Hokkien, Xiang, Hakka dialects, and there are many minority languages.
  • Beijing accent: It is an accented version of Mandarin Chinese, most Chinese can understand it except the local slangs.
  • Shanghai dialect (Shanghainese): It is almost like a foreign language to many Chinese outside Shanghai.
  • Guangdong dialect (Cantonese): It’ is almost like a foreign language but it’s also shared by residents in Hong Kong and Macau with very tiny differences.


English Speaking

Nowadays most Chinese in big cities can speak several sentences of simple English, but don’t count on this.

In most situations you can not communicate smoothly with your potential buyers in English.

Prepare your brochure or presentation in well-translated Simplified Chinese version, or in bilingual version.

  • You may need to have a local partner who is good at both Chinese and English to sweep off the language barrier, or you can hire a translator.
  • It is very important to train your onetime translator and make sure the translator understands your your business model, key advantages and your solutions.
  • Prepare a list of survival Chinese in case of emergency.


DON’T assume “Yes” means Yes

Dig Deeper: Chinese Business Etiquette 101 for Doing Business in China



Almost all businessmen in China use WeChat for personal and business contacts.

People use the instant messaging, video and voice chat often. 

Basically, It will be much easier to reach your China contacts from wechat than other ways.



  • What’s blocked in China: Most of the social media sites and useful productivity tools are blocked in China, which include and not limited to Google, Google Calendar, Gmail, Google Docs, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, DropBox, Instagram, Wikipedia, etc.
  • What’s not blocked in China: Evernote, Whatsapp
  • Some five-star international hotels provides unblocked internet access.
  • Public Wifi: public wifi is very popular in China but many commercial center public wifi would require you enter a Chinese mobile phone number in order to acquire a PIN. 


Quick Facts about Travel

Time zone: UTC+8

Despite its size, all of China falls within one time zone, although many in Xinjiang Province observe an unofficial “Xinjiang timezone” of UTC+6, two hours behind Beijing.


International dialing code: +86

city/area codes are used, e.g. (0)10 for Beijing, (0)21 for Shanghai and (0)20 for Guangzhou


Electricity and Socket: 220V. 50 HZ.

Make sure whether you need an adaptor before you leave for China. 

Chinese standard three-pin plugs are most common.


Emergency numbers:

  • 110 (police)
  • 120 (ambulance)
  • 119 (fire)


Currency: Chinese Yuan, also referred to as the Renminbi (RMB)

Monetary unit: 1 Renminbi (yuan) (Y) = 10 jiao = 100 fen



  • Credit card: Nowadays credit card is widely accepted in China, especially in big cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hong Kong and many 2nd tier cities. However, some international credits will be denied for various reasons, prepare some necessary cash anyway.
  • Cash: In many small stores, small restaurants in big cities and many places in small towns, you still need to pay by cash.
  • Change Your Money: Make sure you’ve got the international currencies like US dollars, Euros, British Pound Sterling, etc, You can easily find ATMs at big malls and hotels in big cities, you can also change your money at the front desk of some four – five star hotels, or you can go to the banks.
  • AliPay & Wechat Wallet: Many Chinese are using mobile/online payment and they are quite popular in China.


Weather and Temperature

  • China is vast in size and diverse in local temperatures.
  • Beijing is hot in the summer (36+ degrees) and bitterly cold in the winter (-10 degrees).
  • Shanghai has a humid subtropical climate. In winter, be aware you will feel much colder than in Beijing.
  • Hong Kong is very humid throughout the year and the temperature is always above 15 degrees.


Traffic Jam

  • Traffic jam in China is quite severe, especially in Beijing, Shenzhen, and Shanghai.

Always plan very much ahead of time if your appointments are in the rush hours.

Take the metro to avoid the possible delay in peak time.


Taking A Cab

Uber model is popular and you can easily find a cab in major cities, similar brands include DiDi, Kuaidi, Shenzhou Cars, Yidao etc.



China’s hyper-speed train is super fast.

It only takes around 5 hours from Shanghai to Beijing, which is 1318 km away and it normally needs 2.5 hours fly time.

As a foreigner, you need to verify your passport so that you can also book your train tickets online.

In peak seasons (Chinese New year and golden holidays in China), train tickets are very difficult to buy so plan your travel in advance.



Always compare the price for the flights, sometimes Kayak can even provide lower price than Qunar, some times it will double the price.

You need to switch off your mobile phone during the whole flight.



  • Pick up a hotel address card at the reception and bring it with you. Just in case your taxi driver doesn’t speak a word of English.
  • Find somewhere in the downtown and convenient to go everywhere, your time is more precious during your travel.


Online Sales & Express Delivery

You can buy almost anything online in China and get your package delivered in as short as 1 day.

It is quite amazing while it is impossible in most other countries.


Food is very diversified in China, and you will have a wide choices in big cities.





Get Secrets and Tips about China Business!

Chao Cheng

Cheng Chao has extensive expertise in global translation & localization, cross-border business development, and global digital marketing.

Chao founded ChineseTrans, where he led a team of senior linguists to establish ChineseTrans as the market leader in professional Chinese translation services.

Chao is currently China managing director of WebInterpret, a leading provider of global e-commerce solutions. Through its unique internalization platform the company enables domestic online traders to become international online traders. Chao has been responsible for the China market entry and all operations in China.

Since 2011, Chao has served as the managing director of sinostep, a consulting agency helping foreign investment enter into the China market. Backed up with a strong team of China business consultants experienced in different sectors, Chao has successfully introduced dozens of overseas brands into the China market, established their operations in China on early stage and adapted their businesses to the China market.

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