Opinion piece by Daniel Chang, published in The Cairns Post


During the discussions which led to me joining Bottoms English, John Bottoms asked me: “Daniel, what’s China all about?” His question was a simple one, but also impossibly complicated.

One important consideration when dealing with the Chinese business market is that around 90 per cent of the population speak in different dialects and in addition there are around 55 other minority ethnic groups, such as; Zhuang, Hui, Manchu, Miao, Tibetan, Mongol, Yao and so on.

It is therefore important to acknowledge and respect the heritage of those you are dealing with.

In western society and culture, it is more prevalent for an individual to be esteemed by their own reputation, experience and success. In order to successfully deal with most of the Chinese market, this framework needs to be set aside and replaced with respect for their traditional family collectivism framework and Confucian philosophy.

The Chinese are heavily influenced by Confucian philosophy such as Zong (“loyalty”), Xiao (“filial piety”), Ren (“humanity”) and Yi (“righteousness”). Reputation is everything.

When dealing with the Chinese business market, it is important to remember these principles. A Chinese person is defined by reference to their family and not the individual success of one person within that family unit. It is believed that if every family can be managed well, then the society and country will be easily governed.

The Chinese work on the principle that if you cannot manage your own family, you cannot manage another’s business affairs.


The doctrine of Xiao (filial piety) dictates that the individual is to respect their parents and ancestors. It is a simple logic that your children and grandchildren will fully respect you if you have respected your parents and ancestors. The meaning of Xiao is not merely respect, but the unconditional service and care of the parents when they are sick or become frail. It should also be noted that Xiao is not merely blind loyalty to parents and ancestors, but also includes the general norms of Ren (benevolence, esteem to all elders) and Yi (righteousness, faithfulness to your friends and colleagues). When practising Xiao, you develop a good reputation, and the flow-on effect is community trust and faith in you and your family.

 The effect of applying these norms by generations not only obliges the Chinese to manage their families internally, but also acts as a reminder to do the right thing to maintain their family’s reputation and good name.

An essential element in all business dealings is trust. A person or business that practices loyalty, humanity, righteousness, and respect, will be received by the Chinese market. Once your business reputation satisfies these elements, they are bound to “wake the sleeping dragon” being the Chinese market seeking to invest in Australia.