Caixin OnlineOpinionCommentaries Jack of All Trades, the Chinese Middleman
06.10.2013 17:15

Jack of All Trades, the Chinese Middleman

The junior partner in the huge Sino-U.S. business arrangement provides connections, information and negotiating skills. And bribes
By Steven P. Feldman

One of the often overlooked keys to understanding American-Chinese business relations is the Chinese middleman.

The middleman was there before the Americans arrived, having developed to both connect common people with the government and to protect them from it. The authoritarian Chinese state stands across Chinese history for over two thousand years. The two great institutions in Chinese society are the state and the family. The middleman developed to negotiate this relationship. Unlike Japan, where a long feudal history developed a culture of autonomy and cooperation on the sub-state level, in China the state has been successful in dominating all large organizations. To this day, most large Chinese companies are state-owned or controlled.

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