How to Get What You Want from the Chinese Government

Chinese government lobbying

Bizcult has an interesting post on the basics of lobbying the Chinese government, entitled, How to Lobby the Chinese Government [link no longer exists]. It is based on Scott Kennedy’s book The Business of Lobbying in China.

According to Kennedy, Chinese policy arises from the following three things:

1. Bargaining between elite politicians and various bureaucracies.
2. Expertise provided by intellectuals that include economists, lawyers and researchers in government-sponsored research institutes
3. National People’s Congress legislation.

To lobby effectively in China, you need to concentrate on these three processes and the policies they create. Lobbying by foreigners is commonly done in China and the most successful lobbyists are those who communicate and make personal visits regularly.

Kennedy has the following to say about where and how to lobby:

Lobbying via Chinese trade associations can have mixed results. There are many such associations, but only some of them have any real power.

Forget about the Communist Party. Kennedy sees the party as “unimportant” for business purposes and he suggests lobbying “the ministries and commissions responsible for daily management and regulation of business policy” where regulation actually occurs.

Don’t cultivate clientelist relationships (read: don’t bribe bureaucrats). Buying the influence of one local official probably will not help.

I agree with all of the above, particularly the point about constant contact with government officials. If you are going to impact Chinese governmental officials (and this is true of government officials outside China as well), the way to do it is through a real relationship, not just running to them with your latest immediate problem.

Regular readers of this blog know our position on bribery is to just say no. No both because the person you bribe today may be out of power tomorrow and no because you could get caught and put in jail, either in China or in your home country.

What are you seeing out there?

2 responses to “How to Get What You Want from the Chinese Government”

  1. How To Get What You Want From The Chinese Government, Part II. Make It Win-Win.
    In The Subtle Art of Lobbying the Chinese Government , Alistair Nicholas of Off The Record posted on our post on how to lobby the Chinese government. Nicholas noted something very important I left out in my post. Our post focused on who to lobby and th…

  2. Kennedy is right on all counts, yet his (in my opinion) offhanded dismissal of the Communist Party overstates the case somewhat. While it is true that the Party is not a direct force in business, there is a small group of industries that the party watches quite closely, including radio, film, television, the Internet, games, and publishing.
    No business would deal directly with Party entities (except in the case where senior bureaucrats also held senior positions in the Party), if you are playing in a politically sensitive sector, everything you do – from how you plan your business to how you talk about it in public – must be done with the concerns of the Party aparatchiks in mind.

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