Preparing for life, and business, in China

Cultural considerations when relocating to the Far East
By Laraine Kaminsky
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 09/27/2005

What are your images of China? What would be your first thoughts the moment it is confirmed that you are moving to live and work in Beijing, Shanghai or Chongqing? For many people, these initial words would include “crowds, noise, bicycles, strange, unfamiliar, smells and chaos.”

However, similar to Canada, each region in China has its own cuisine, dialect, politics and infrastructures. Just as working in Vancouver is somewhat a different experience from working in Quebec City, so does an assignment in Beijing differ from one in Shanghai. In the capital city of Beijing, even a tricyclist or a taxi driver can talk about politics with a stranger for hours. By contrast, in the modern, more westernized coastal city of Shanghai, locals have little interest in politics, and instead pride themselves on their century-old reputation as “Paris in the East” — or, as the Chinese central government now intends it, their desired reputation as “New York in China.”

Therefore, it is critical not only during the preparation for the family departure, but also on arrival in China, to understand as much of the specifics of the city and province as possible.