Shaun Rein explains what he has learned about doing business in China, and how US companies like Google could learn from it. Publicly yelling mostly does not work, he argues in Forbes, describing his first approach with a corruption case a decade ago.
Yelling often doesn’t accomplish much in Asia. Even if you’re right, it’s often better to work patiently. Chinese say you should be like water–you can move fast like a river but also slow as a trickle, depending on the situation.
Take Google‘s ( GOOG – news – people ) battle with China. Google shouldn’t have been so strident and public in demanding that the government end censorship. Everyone wants a freer Internet, but you’ve got to do what actually leads to improvement…
True reform ultimately needs to come from trusted Chinese showing that rules can be revised without negative effect. Change can’t come from foreigners, or from Chinese funded by foreigners. Westerners can and should play key roles in reform, but by offering advice, not arrogant threats, and by presenting examples outside of the system. And always remember that reform is not an easy process. For every two steps forward there is usually one step back.