Bologna June 18 2008
With the patronage of the municipality of Bologna,
culture and relations with University Office
Last speech of the three which have composed the meeting called "What Happens in the Olympic China", by Quartiere Santo Stefano of Bologna -
Avv. Francesco De Sanzuane, consultant and expert in Asian law
Dr. Paolo Cacciato, linguistic and cultural mediator about Eastern Asia, editor of Corriere Asia and chairman of the Asian Studies Group association.
A meeting which aims to understand the main principles which lead the communication with Chinese interlocutors, not only for reciprocal comprehension and high socio-cultural topic, but particularly to understand the dimension which is the basic for commercial dialogue with Chinese differences.
Introduction to the speech by Dr. Paolo Cacciato
"Make business in China, a very living matter, may be even already passed for many facets. With this speech I want you to go beyond what you think is available for “business” in one of the largest market in the world, (only at the third place after USA and Europe considering purchase power) trying to lead to good points which could support the importance that, into every-time China, two particular skills have covered for a concrete and productive dialogue during the Empire, and I am referring to the quality of perseverance approaching to Chinese reality and of valorization of their cultural system which characterize symbols and values owned by this people.
Even negotiation with Chinese partners should shift in a dimension of patient listening and a whole preparation on the negotiation to be dealt with, attitudes along with the awareness of how every phase of the negotiation will be leaded by a strong system of values which refers to the Confucian tradition and to the Taoist perception / superstition as its raison d’etre. The knowledge of these crucial principles about Chinese “cultural sensibility”, often adopted to justify the general developing political and institutional system and its apparent contradictions, could represent the key to extend a constructive dialogue with the Chinese partner, lighted by a clime of safeness and reciprocal reliance.
I will also try to summarize times and approaching manners among parts to arrive to distinguish four phases typical of a negotiation, discernible more by attitudes and personalities involved than by precise passing times. It’s interesting to notice how the value of the commercial relation with China could be really compared with a slow hanging out with somebody before the definite and lasting choice of marrying without the chance to divorce. The separation from the partner is possible but the price to be paid is very high and includes losing your face (mianzi), and the impossibility to create any other relationship from that time on..."
Synthesis of the main concepts
Definition and purposes of “negotiation” according to Chinese culture. 谈判 (tanpan) preparations in order to know a interlocutor and to choose him for a lasting and harmonious dialogue.
Purpose represented by 和谐 (hexie): harmony. Useful base to create a lasting relationship – The contract has a marginal role.
Keys to success: “develop perseverance and valorize the comprehension of Chinese culture” according to Vincent Lo (responsible for the real estate restructuring of Xintiandi in Shanghai).
Chinese persuasion: question’s game, pauses and cognitive slowness VS Western modality centered on rashness, impatience and aggressiveness.
The silence culture: 含蓄 (hanxu) containing emotions and developing critical awareness especially during negotiation- Chinese culture exploit the power of a written-based communication, based on the immediate intuition of the meaning carried by a written sign. For this reason it is opposed compared to the importance of the oral language (logos) typical of Western countries communication system. In China the character represents the link between different companies and hundreds of dialects. Communication is intellectual, under the value of symbols and moral rules. That’s why Chinese people prefer silence and intuition instead of words.
Vocabulary of cited philosophical concepts
和谐 hexie: Principle of harmony. Reaching purpose that leads the commercial activity and the dialogue among several interlocutors in a system conceived as a interlocking of roles and hierarchies. (influence both Confucian and Taoist)
关系 guanxi: Network of relationships and moral implications that in every-time China represent a coordinated organizational model according to the ritual system of Confucian memory, substitute for corporate laws.
中间人 zhongjianren: mediator. Communication link that helps to valorize every single relation. Key figure in the organization of a commercial communication among several parts, guarantor of moral etiquette which depends on the relationships of the interlocutors.
社会等级 shehuidengji: social stratification. Respect for hierarchies and awareness of the roles. The commercial dialogue is carried by this conception.
整体观念 zhengtiguannian: global evaluation . The perception that the knowledge of the other is possible only across the evaluation of the “whole”, influences the commercial negotiation in ways and times depending on the questions that are supposed.
The phases of negotiation
Preliminary Knowledge, THE COURTSHIP: slow and important phase for the Chinese part; it properly represents the “courtship” between interlocutors. Involvement of formal contacts and social rituals. This phase concludes successfully if it ends with the introduction of a mediator, guarantor of the concrete starting point for the negotiation.
Information Exchange, THE ASSOCIATION: indirectly leaded by the Chinese end, across the involvement of the entire group and the consultation of every member. It represents the phase of the proper association that anticipate the commercial “wedding”. For this reason it is object of observations, silences and reflections.
Persuasion Moment, THE CONVINCEMENT: according to Western point of view this is the phase of the attack, of perseverance and imminent convincement. According to Chinese modality this is the phase of several and frequently asked questions, the final probe which anticipate the contract. The respect for rituals and communication Confucian etiquette without too much pressure could play a key role.
Sign of the contract, THE WEDDING: aware that according to the Chinese end the single contract is less important compared with the following long relation of understanding and dialogue, this phase represents the reaching point of this slow negotiation process.
For further information please see Asian Studies Group's Research Activity