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22/03/2017  l  Is the Chinese Superpower a Threat or an Opportunity?
This blog post is an adaptation and translation of a column written by Bart Horsten for the Belgian economic newspaper De Tijd (4 March 2017). See the original article in Dutch here. European companies often hold misconceptions that they still possess a technological advantage over their Chinese counterparts and that China is eagerly awaiting their arrival. The contrary is true, China has an advantage in many sectors, for example in cleantech industries and internet technology. Afte...

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21/11/2016  l  Six Recommendations for SMEs When Entering China
Western SMEs often lack the resources to invest heavily in China and only have one chance to do it right. Reports have shown that almost half of start-up projects in China fail within the first two years. Therefore, it is not only extremely important for SMEs to be well prepared and select the right entry mode for China, but also to find a way to follow up and master the project once it’s started. Here are some key recommendations for Western SMEs when considering a China venture: Stay...

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25/09/2016  l  Must-have Apps in China (Part 2)
After we published the first part of this blog in June 2016, please find here part 2 of this blog. 1. QQ QQ – pronounced ‘coco’ in Chinese – began as an instant messaging service for desktop, much like MSN and AOL, and used to be China’s most popular instant messaging service for many a year until the rise of Wechat. It must have been a strange few years for QQ, being overshadowed by an APP from the same company Tencent. Up until 2013 you would ask a person&rsqu...

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22/06/2016  l  Must-have Apps in China (Part 1)
You just arrived in China and all of a sudden you discover your most beloved apps stopped working. Why? The Chinese Great Firewall! Surely something you’ve heard about before. What many people don’t realize though is that it not only blocks websites, but all content which the Chinese government deems inappropriate, including mobile apps. Due to the government’s efforts to create a sort of Chinese intranet, Chinese tech companies have been able to develop and experiment relative...

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31/05/2016  l  Is Alibaba Heaven on Earth for Belgian Brands?
On May 23rd, 2016 Belgium’s King Philip and Alibaba CEO Jack Ma met in Brussels. Same as last year, Jack Ma announced that Brussels is getting its own Alibaba office. A consolation prize, considering Belgium lost the ‘bid’ for Alibaba’s Benelux Headquarters to Amsterdam not that long ago.  Still, the arrival of the Chinese e-commerce giant is welcomed by many business owners, who desperately seek to tap into the vast China market. And sure, while the physical presen...

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10/05/2016  l  Differences between Chinese and Western Websites
Our company often organizes seminars about the ins and outs of doing business in China. A while back, we did a presentation for a group of businesses who plan to venture out to the China market. One of the things we like to touch upon in our presentations is the advantage of having a Chinese-language website and being active on Chinese social media. At this business gathering one of the participants posed the following question, “What’s the difference between a Chinese and a Western ...

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13/04/2016  l  Don't forget your common sense when doing business in China
Everybody views China as a potential export market, and everybody is aware of the risks of doing business in China, but for some strange reason many business people seem to lose all common sense when dealing with Chinese companies. The following story happened to one of our customers. You will immediately ask yourself how it was possible that a European company even took the time and effort to keep communicating with this Chinese company for several weeks. Unfortunately it is not a unique case:...

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19/03/2016  l  Do I need to know Chinese to be successful in China? - Bart Horsten
In 2004 - 2005 I had the chance to study Mandarin Chinese by taking private lessons from a Belgian teacher in Antwerp (writing, reading and conversation). My Chinese language skills are still very basic, but I manage to get around in China on my own: I can order food (an important skill as a big fan of Chinese food), catch a taxi and have a basic day-to-day conversation in Chinese. Additionally, when having business diners, it’s a very nice instrument to ‘break the ice’. Unfort...

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10/02/2016  l  Quality in China: important to stay one step ahead!
For many years ‘Made in China’ has been synonymous with ‘bad quality’. Typically, most of the toys, clothing, shoes, etc. were coming from the “factory of the world”, as China was called at the time. Quality was of less importance than the price and the speed of delivery. Today the reality is quite different. Not only costs and salaries have significantly increased in recent years, but also the type and the overall quality of the products have cons...

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04/01/2016  l  Business in China: the concept of face
Everybody always says: “China is the future. If you know Chinese you will have a great opportunity and many doors will open for you.” That might be true but one always has to be careful and be aware of the many cultural differences that might exist. One of these cultural differences is the existence of ‘face’. What is face? Face is a concept deeply rooted in Chinese society. It’s not literally your face but a metaphor for a person’s reputation among its ...

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