A former client of mine who was involved in a new venture recently quizzed me as to whether or not “We require clients to undertake the Cultural Understanding Course” if they do hosting and services with us?
ICP, yes… but a “Cultural Understanding Course” ??!
My client explained to me that according to their current infrastructure provider, “since we are running a site that targeted the Chinese and had music and culture on it, in order to continue to host he needed to undertake a Cultural Understanding Course or just make a special payment of 10K RMB to avoid it.” I’m paraphrasing but that is the gist of it.
Something didn’t smell right. I have never known of any law or regulation in China that can be avoided simply by paying money to someone! 😛
In this case, it was the ISP asking for the money – not those in charge of the “Law” – which subsequent checking has failed to find any said regulation/requirement.
So what this all boils down to is a local company, trying to strong arm and exploit the naive foreigner. No such suprise for me, this happens all the time. The problem is not with the Chinese. The problem is with the foreigners that come to China, exist here for 1 year, think they are China “Experts” and then proceed to do things that they wouldn’t dream of doing in their own country.
Now such stupidity can lead to being locked up in the extreme or losing a lot of money at the other end of the scale. And no one industry is immune to these kinds of land mines. It further proves the point that in China, you do get what you pay for (why are the average foreigners here so cheap?) and that experience counts. And if you don’t have the latter, be man enough to admit that to yourself, your higher ups and co workers and seek out someone who does know and whom you can trust. It is a lot less of a loss of face than being locked up or having to explain missing funds, or missed deadlines.
In general, educated people aren’t know it alls when it comes to their doctor and happily seek second opinions and often pay a premium for niche advice. Why would any rational and educated business person in China operate any different?
It seems some foreigners in China do need a “Cultural Understanding Course” anyway – just of a different kind. However that course takes between 5 and 10 years to complete and often involves not working inside a bubble wrapped MNC either.