Posted by: oliviapontet | August 25, 2012

The concept of Guanxi

What is it that this machine there, Guanxi? Something that is not supposed to exist here, but can result in “relationships”, “circles of knowledge and interaction facilitating human exchanges and business without which you are lost as a penguin in the forest Amazon “.

How does it work? I have not yet fully understood, and as laowai I doubt let me one day to understand the subtleties. Commonplaces we often hear are “not to do business in China without Guanxi” TRUE. “Just pay them gifts, alcohol and women and developing Guanxi”: FALSE.

How we develop Guanxi? I’m not sure it is possible. Basically, a person around it several circles of knowledge more or less remote, which define the intensity of guanxi, which would be something pre-existing. For example, your family and close friends have a lot of Guanxi with you. Neighbors, teachers, classmates, colleagues, also of guanxi, but much less. For others, they are all cram into the category “without guanxi” foreigners (in the broad sense, those I do not know). This does not preclude making friends, of course, it remains dynamic.

So what? And thus the behavior of the Chinese to you depends greatly on the category to which you belong. For example, if you roll over, no guanxi, do not worry. But if you are a student in a class of cell biology in Chinese and you are receiving shit, classmates will help you break. Basically, the better the guanxi with someone, the more décarcasse for you, and sometimes in amazing proportions. But, of course, it works both ways, and often you will be asked things that you can not refuse.

What I wonder is: can we acquire guanxi doing what the other asks us? For example, the administration of my college asked a friend to go to the hospital to help a student, or to accompany another person at the airport. Guanxi with its director is improved? Another example, I asked a Chinese knowledge for me to call the electric company when I had a breakdown, do I owe him absolutely, the day she asks me a favor?

For better understanding, here is what my particular Chinese teacher (yes, to relax after class Chinese medicine I have a tutor I work with the language). After learning a word Uqi means “kind, caring”, I wonder how one says otherwise. Basically, how do you say bad / who treats you badly. She had a funny reaction “Well it does not exist! If someone treats you badly is not because he is bad, he just does not have guanxi with you” .

This would explain how much “you take it in the face” of many aspects of my relationship with the Chinese, who then did nothing to fart your face if you do not belong to their Guanxi. At home, we meet a priori and everyone is polite with strangers here, we do not bother to waste time with people we do not know (they are people too, maybe?)

Again, I’m curious to see how it develops and maintains, that thing there!

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