People in the Far East are NOT casual so be very respectfulFar East
of their way of dressing; if you do not conform they will think you are being disrespectful. The Chinese have seven layers of wrapping presents, so wrapping YOU should be equally important- it’s all about FACE. The dominant feature of business practice is your Personal Network: based on duty, obligation and trust.

So far in this section you’ll find the  Top Ten Tips for doing business in five countries of East Asia, along with opening times, holiday dates and festivities. These are: China, Japan, Singapore, Vietnam, and Myanmar (Burma). 


  1. You need to establish a network of close contacts with personal ties. This guanxi is your key to success.
  2. Respect and trust must be earned before business can be negotiated. Expect to take 5 years in the build up.
  3. Don’t be impatient you will usually be met with delays.
  4. In business dealings, be detailed, technical and factual.  Speak often of trust and co-operation between you and your counterparts.  Focus on long-term benefits.
  5. Chinese negotiators use the “soft sell” and the “hard buy”.  A ‘no compromise’ approach is used, but flexibility eventually emerges; ensure you have plenty of room to give lots of concessions. Expect shaming and silence as negotiations tactics.
  6. Always give notice upfront about your full intentions and what you want to achieve in China. This is not only considered a courtesy, but shows your intentions are honourable.
  7. Never send one individual into negotiations, nor a lawyer. Chinese prefer to deal with groups.  Have technically competent engineers and other experts on your team.
  8. Don’t say anything that might embarrass your counterpart; remember Face! Be subtle and sensitive in your disagreements and try not to ask direct questions which might need ‘No’ for an answer.
  9. Don’t upset the harmony. Be reserved and dignified in your personal style.
  10. Don’t expect quick decision-making. The hierarchy within a Chinese organisation is complicated.  It is often difficult to identify who makes the final decision, but everyone along the way will need to ‘rubber stamp’ their agreement.

Watch a Video on Chinese Business Culture

Public Holidays:

January 1-2      New Year’s Day Holiday

February 12-16 Chinese New Year

March 8           International Women’s Working Day*

May 1-2           International Labour Day

May 4 Youth Day

June 1              Children’s Day

July 1               Anniversary of the Founding of the Communist Party

August 1          Anniversary of the Founding of the Chinese PLA

October 1-2     National Day

*Holiday for women only

Weekend Sunday

Business Hours 8.00-5.00

Non-Holiday Observances

April 5             Qing Ming

June 25 Tuen Ng (Dragon Boat) Festival

October 1        Mid-Autumn Festival


  1. Creating harmony (Wa) is the overriding criteria for any transaction
  2. Business is done through your personal network (Nemawashi)
  3. Expect to spend a long time building relationships and a network. You will be asked questions about your personal background and education, ask the same questions about them; this communicates your interest in them on a long-term basis
  4. Asking for and accepting help, even when not needed, and giving help are all means to create trust and ‘Wa’
  5. Decisions must go through the ‘Ringey-sho’ process; approval by everyone. A decision may take ages in the making, but implementation is swift.
  6. Repeat questions several times. Silence is respectful. Closed eyes are a sign of concentration – not sleep!
  7. Be prepared for lots of formality and documents
  8. Don’t put anyone in a position where they might lose Face
  9. Don’t ask direct questions and don’t interrupt
  10. Don’t think people are lying if you feel misled; remember there is no “No” but 101 ways to say “yes”.

Public Holidays:

January 1         New Year’s Day (Gantan)

January 2         Bank Holiday

January 3         Bank Holiday

January            2nd Monday Coming of Age Day (Seijin-no-hi)

February 11     National Foundation Day (Kenkoku-kinen-no-hi)

March 21         Vernal Equinox(Shunbun-no-hi)

April 29           Greenery Day (Midori-no-hi)

May 3 Constitution Memorial Day (Kenpou-kinen-bi)

May 4 Holiday for a Nation (Kokumin-no-kyujitu)

May 5 Children’s Day (Kodomo-no-hi)

July 20             Marine Day (Umi-no-hi)

September 15 Respect for the Aged Day (Keirou-no-hi)

September 23 Autumnal Equinox (Shuubun-no-hi)

October           2nd Monday Health and Sports Day (Taiiku-no-hi)

November 3    National Culture Day (Bunka-no-hi)

November 23 Labour Thanksgiving Day (Kinrou-kansha-no-hi)

December 23   Emperor’s Birthday (Tennou-tanjyou-bi)

December 31   Bank Holiday

Other relevant information:

Holidays on a Sunday are taken on the Monday (except Bank Holidays associated with the New Year).

29 April to 5 May (approx) is called “Golden Week”. Many people extend the public holidays taking extra days off and most organisations are closed.

Weekend Saturday afternoon, Sunday

Business Hours 9.00-5.00, (Saturdays 9.00-noon)


  1. Speed of business is quite quick; quicker than other south east Asian countries. Allow two weeks in advance to make appointments.
  2. Although quite ‘Western’ in business outlook, there is still a fundamental belief in harmony in any business relationships.
  3. Negotiations are usually direct and quick.
  4. Business environment is very entrepreneurial and dynamic.
  5. Emphasis on competence, merit, and team play.
  6. Age and experience are valued, so send people around the age of 50 to do business. This shows seriousness of your intent.
  7. Agreements are written down. Singaporeans consider written contracts more binding than verbal agreements.
  8. Don’t be aggressive in your negotiating
  9. Don’t be too ‘posturing’, this is seen as being pushy
  10. Don’t put someone in a position where they might lose Face

Public Holidays:

January 1         New Year’s Day

February 12-14 Chinese New Year

February 23     Hari Raya Haji(Eid Al Adha)

March/April    Good Friday date changes every year

May 1 Labour Day

August 9          National Day

December 25   Christmas Day

Weekend: Sunday (Friday is the Muslim holy day)

Business Hours: generally 9.00-5.00 and half day on Saturday. Lunch 12.00-2.00


  1. Personal contacts are crucial. Establish trust and friendship before attempting any business.
  2. Wait for a signal from your hosts before you start talking business.
  3. If using a translator, focus your eyes and attention on the person with whom you are meeting, not the translator. Always have your own interpreter present.
  4. Learning a few words in Vietnamese, and a little about their country, shows respect, sensitivity and a willingness to do serious business.
  5. Start from absolute basics, make no assumptions. Your counterpart will not fill in any missing information or correct misinformation. Make sure that you understand every item in your contract.
  6. Courtesy is important; don’t cause someone to “lose face”, especially in front of his/her peers.
  7. Vietnam is a big bureaucracy, everything takes a long time. This can also be used as a tactic in breaking down negotiations or to cause delays.
  8. Make it clear that you will not continue negotiations beyond your deadline, otherwise delay will be used as a bargaining tool..
  9. Don’t display emotion; it’s considered inappropriate to a business setting. Remember that the Vietnamese display great patience and little emotion in public.
  10. Don’t show anger or frustration even as a tactic.

Public Holidays:

January 1         Solar New Year’s Day (Bank holiday)

January 12-14 Vietnamese New Year, Tet Nguyen Dan

February 3       Anniversary of the Founding of the Communist Party (Bank Holiday)

March 8           Women’s Day

March 26         Youth Day

April 30           Liberation of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

May 1 International Labour Day

May 19            Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh’s birthday

June 1              Children’s Day

July 27             Memorial Day for War Martyrs

August 19        Revolution of 1945

September 2    National Day

November 20 Teachers’ Day

December 22   Army Day

Weekend Saturday, Sunday

Business Hours 7.30-4.30

Myanmar (Burma)

  1. Who you know matters a lot, and good connections are necessary to do business.
  2. The tradition of repaying favours matters a lot.  You are expected to return a favour without being asked.
  3. Know people’s status, rank, and title. Use correct names and formal titles, especially when dealing with government officials.
  4. Exchanging business cards is an important transaction.
  5. Huge acceptance of authority.  The boss is there to make the decisions.
  6. Egalitarianism is perceived as a threat to harmony
  7. People won’t use their initiative; they’ll be waiting for an OK from their superior.
  8. Maintain your composure at all times
  9. Don’t be surprised that astrologers are used in the decision-making process, or prior to business negotiations.
  10. Don’t expect a good input in discussions; the Myranmar are uncomfortable on committees because governance is  by seniority or hierarchy.

Public Holidays:

January 4         Independence Day (1948)

February 12     Day of the Burmese Union

February           Eid al Adha

March 2           Peasant’s Day

March 27         Day of the Army

May 1                Labour Day

July 19             Martyr’s Day

Nov/Dec         Eid ul Fitr

December 25   Christmas Day

Weekend – Saturday, Sunday

Business Hours 7.30-4.30

Buddhist Events:

April  Thingyan Water festival

April  Myanmar New Year

May Full moon day of Kason, Birth & 1st Sermon of Buddha

July  Buddhist Fast begins

October Buddhist Fast ends (Light festival)

November Tazaungdaing, Full moon, (Light festival, Cloth weaving competition)

November National Holiday

December\January Kayin New Year

Things to be aware of:

The Months are dependent on waxing and waning of the moon. There are 12 months per year; 29 and 30 days duration alternately:

Myanmar Calendar Gregorian Calendar

Kason                                       April & May

Nayon                                      May & June

Waso                                         June & July

Wagaung                                  July & August

Tawthalin                                August & September

Thadingyut                            September & October

Tazaungmon                        October & November

Nadaw                                     November & December

Pyatho                                     December & January

Tabodwe                                 January & February

Tabaung                                  February & March

Tagu                                          March & April

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This entry was posted on Thursday, August 20th, 2009 at 12:28 am and is filed under East Asia, General, tips on doing business around the world . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

One Response to “ Far East: Top Ten Tips for Doing Business in Each of Five Countries ”

  1. Mm says:

    Good read. You’ll have to follow-up with a conclusion. Keep up the excellent job!