What Generally Happens
A lot of Westerners make the mistake of getting all their business information from the Chinese person across the table from them.
Turn it around, imagine that you’re negotiating with someone in New York or London who has come from China. He doesn’t know anything about doing business in the United States or Europe.
Even if you want to be as honest as possible, even if you want to help him, you are going to take control of the negotiating agenda, and you’re going to take control of his business.
This is what happens with a lot of Westerners when they come to China. Even a well-meaning, honest Chinese counterparty is going to sense that you don’t know anything about China, and he is going to help you by imposing his own viewpoint and priorities on your China business.
A lot of the time, this doesn’t align very well with your global strategy and it’s going to lead to conflict.
What Ought To Happen
You should make the first phase of your business in China about learning the lay of the land, understanding the economics in China, and trying to build a model that makes sense for China.
If you’re not adjusting your business model for the Chinese market or economic landscape, then you’re going to run into a lot of problems.
All the negotiating skill in the world isn’t going to get you out of these difficulties. You’ve got to know what you’re doing, what the situation in China really is for your business, before you start negotiating, not after.