How to Find Business Opportunities in China

by Kay Tang; Updated September 26, 2017
Businesswoman using a laptop in an office

China offers an abundance of business opportunities in many industry sectors. These opportunities are often linked to the Chinese government's strategic and economic objectives. Government subsidies may even exist for your particular business. In addition, several industry sectors are still in the development stage, so you have the chance to attain first-mover advantage. However, problematic areas, such as shadow banking and corruption, abound. To identify legitimate business opportunities, speak to people who understand how to do business in China.

Research China's Market

Conduct research on China's market and determine what the Chinese people need and want. Business opportunities are generally linked to the government's strategic objectives as outlined in China's five-year plan. While the 2011-2015 plan emphasizes biotechnology, information technology infrastructure, automotive and energy, the next five-year plan may target different industry sectors. In addition, China's regional governments may be targeting their own lists of sectors for investment. U.S. government agencies provide a wealth of information on how to find business opportunities in China. For example, the U.S. Commercial Service publishes a comprehensive guide for doing business in China. It can be downloaded from the service's website.

Contact Trade Representatives

Enlist the help of U.S. government trade agencies and their representatives to identify legitimate business opportunities in China. For example, the U.S. Commercial Service China has a network of trade specialists located in five major cities -- Beijing, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Shenyang. The service provides contact information -- phone and email -- for these offices on its website. If you're unsure as to where to begin, contact the service's China Business Information Center and ask to speak with someone who can hep you identify the best business opportunities. Solicit expert help at any one of 14 American Trading Centers, which are located in 14 of China's emerging markets, including Nanjing, Qingdoa and Zhuhai.

Engage in Professional Networking

Nothing beats getting information from the horse's mouth. Participate in professional networking groups and events that focus on doing business in China. For example, if you're based in New York City, you can join the U.S.-China Business Opportunity Group. This Meetup group brings together representatives from both American and Chinese companies to investigate business opportunities, discuss the challenges and share lessons learned from those who've made the leap to China's marketplace. These events are free to join and you can sign up to attend the group's events online.

Join U.S.-China Business Associations

Join associations that focus on business opportunities in China. By joining the US China Business Association, you can keep abreast of events relating to doing business in China. For example, the association published details on the US China Business Forum, which took place at the World Trade Center Atlanta in June 2013. The event was designed to promote "Sino-U.S. economic, trade and technological exchanges and development," according to the association's website. Sign up for newsletters from relevant organizations. The US-China Business Council offers research on various topics -- including intellectual property issues, taxation, investment and technology transfer -- that may affect your business opportunities. Sign up for the council's email list on its website.

About the Author

Kay Tang is a journalist who has been writing since 1990. She previously covered developments in theater for the "Dramatists Guild Quarterly." Tang graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in economics and political science from Yale University and completed a Master of Professional Studies in interactive telecommunications at New York University.

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