The perception of China can often be greatly maligned. Westerners can often make assumptions about the way of life in the country, arising from a misunderstanding of the reality. However, China is not the only country which is wrongly perceived. People imagine many Africa countries to not even have electricity, or that in other countries those with money set the rules. In reality, many of the beliefs people hold do have a level of truth to them, and questions arising from misunderstanding the situation are legitimate to ask. One of this perceptions directly relating to China is about how the internet in China is controlled, with many Western businessmen also wondering whether this may affect international business.
The majority of businesses situated outside of China will not run into any issues. There is already a network in place for companies outside of China to connect directly to suppliers. You may already be aware that the Chinese government restricts Google, an incredibly useful company many businesses utilize services from globally. This includes access to Gmail as well as Google Docs and other features. However, despite the government restrict Gmail, you should not be concerned about sending emails to China if you already have an existing Gmail account. Chinese users and businesses will still be able to receive emails from these addresses to whichever email provider they use, they just cannot use the applications created by Google. Therefore, in terms of communication, foreign firms and individuals should not encounter problems communicating to China if they use a Google service.
However, where issues may arise is mainly applicable to larger multi-national corporations. Imagine within your company you issue out a specific type of phone to employees to use for business. If it runs Googles operating system “Android”, if you have employees in China functionality may be impaired. Many companies recognize restricted and unstable internet within China is a problem for themselves. This can lead to an increase in direct costs, decrease in efficiency as well as a lot of time wasted in setting up operations. While users who use Gmail to send emails to China won’t encounter a problem, large corporations based within the country who use the Gmail platform internally would encounter issues.
In addition to foreign companies finding damages as a result of the Chinese internet policy, the country itself is also starting to see damages. With the developed world more being more connected than ever to the internet, the prospect of restricted internet deters young professional from moving to China. While silly to some, it is a genuine concern for many of the world class graduates produced globally who have social media engrained into their lives.
13% of companies out of a sample size of 300 surveyed by the European Union Chamber of Commerce also said they deferred or cancelled research and development projects in China. With this industry being identified as a key area for the Chinese, this response underlines the impact the countries internet policy has on China.
It appears quite clear that a restricted internet damages both foreign companies and the country of China. However, when it comes to smaller companies or individual resellers who import from China the impact is much less severe. In fact, many people may not notice a difference to themselves personally. Ultimately, it boils down to the level of involvement you will have with China. If you expect your company to be based there, then you may encounter problems and significant prior planning is advised to take place.