The Abacus

Guanxi still counts but its great importance lies in another time says Sean Keenihan

By: The Advertiser
04-04-2017

Sean Keenihan, president of the Australia China Business Council in South Australia, says the notion of guanxi is much changed in today’s business climate. 

“WITH guanxi, nothing matters, without guanxi, everything matters,” says one Chinese proverb. “Make friends first, do business next,” offers another.

Starting out in China is complex enough, but take these words of wisdom to heart and any venture there becomes a doomsayer’s delight — misadventure a near bolted on guarantee.

So just what is guanxi and why, if at all, does it matter?

Guanxi, fundamentally, is a millennia old concept of building a network of mutually beneficial relationships for personal and business use in China.

Loosely defined, but it is also a notion that from a Western perspective comes with the mythical. Fail to embrace and understand guanxi and your business venture upon Chinese soil is doomed to failure runs the thinking.

Maybe so in the past says Sean Keenihan, president of the Australia China Business Council (SA), though not necessarily today.

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