You may have heard of the Chinese business concept of guanxi, but do you really understand it? The term, loosely defined as "relationship," can be maligned in the West, but there's more to it than cronyism.
The Food and Drug Law Institute held its first conference in China June 13-14 in Beijing to try to tackle some of the persisting challenges of doing business in China. (See here for full info.) They gathered top-notch speakers from FDA, China's SFDA, and some of the leading regulatory and legal experts from companies operating in China (not to mention our own PharmAsia News – see our coverage here and here; or register for a free trial here).
In partnership with FDLI, we are happy to be able to share a podcast from one of the more interesting panels, featuring Robert Poole – vice president of China operations for the US-China Business Council – Covington and Burling partner Timothy Stratford, Cargill Investments China Director Omar Sadeque and Charlene Zhu, general counsel for GE Healthcare China.
The US-China Business Council polls its member companies every year for the most burdensome aspects of the Chinese business environment. Poole addresses challenges ranging from intellectual property protection to sharing a market with massive state-owned enterprises (SOEs). And as Stratford, a former assistant U.S. trade representative, points out, it's important to be careful when negotiating with SOEs, because the Department of Justice views SOE employees as government officials under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Sadeque and Zhu share insight with on-the-ground perspective on navigating China's life sciences market, including the much-discussed – but misunderstood – concept of guanxi.
All four panelists can speak Mandarin, and yet only one of them grew up in China. How's that for a metaphor on the shift taking place in market priorities? Don't worry; they speak English for this podcast.
Editor’s note: The original post omitted that the panel was moderated by Becker & Associates Consulting CEO Ron Ginor.
-- Dan Poppy
image from flickr user Matt512 used under creative commons license