One of the main obstacles for foreign companies doing business in China or with Chinese companies is the lack of easily-accessible information and resources.
With that in mind, we’ve gathered a selection of some of the most useful online resources for doing business in China and with Chinese companies.
If you’ve got your own favorites, please add them in the comments below.
Alibaba is the starting point for a huge proportion of China sourcing deals. The openness of the platform has contributed to its success, allowing millions of suppliers to offer their products to the world.
This openness is also the cause of many of the risks involved in sourcing through Alibaba: it’s also easy for bad actors to ‘source’ their victims on the platform.
Aside from outright fraud and scams, there are plenty of low-quality suppliers, as well as the potential for things to go wrong due to poor communications.
Alibaba has worked hard to alleviate a lot of these issues, providing supplier assessments, inspections, company registration details, and other methods for reducing risk in the service.
Their trade intelligence section and buyers' forums are also useful tools for making better decisions. Ultimately though, the service Alibaba provides is a meeting place for buyers and sellers, and it can never control exactly what happens between those two parties.
If you need data and statistics on trade in China, HKTDC is often an excellent source.
As you can see, HKTDC is an excellent way to both research China business data, and to educate yourself about the current business environment.
China Law Blog might actually be better titled as ‘China Business Law Blog’ (although we admit that’s less catchy). They cover China business in detail from many angles, and if you’ve spent much time looking into China business online you’ll certainly have read their articles.
We find that regularly reading China Law Blog is worthwhile for a number of reasons:
In short, if you’re interested in China business, China Law Blog should be a part of your regular reading.
'Quality Inspection' (another name we feel could be a little more specific!) is run by Renaud Anjoran, and is somewhat associated with China Law Blog (the two sites frequently reference each other).
Like China Law Blog, Quality Inspection educates readers about doing business in China, but with a focus on sourcing from China and dealing with suppliers.
Again, if you’re interested in sourcing from China, we thoroughly recommend that you start reading Quality Inspection regularly. It lets you access some of the insight and wisdom that Renaud has gained over the years, and explains how to apply that knowledge practically in your China sourcing.
Another blog (the last one we’ll mention here, we promise). China Sourcing Blog makes a nice complement to the other two we’ve recommended, as it tends to take a more in-depth, analytical tone and go into far more detail.
Whilst China Law Blog and Quality Inspection provide regular ‘China business updates’ and a ‘tips and methods’ angle, we find that articles from China Sourcing Blog tend to read more like reports on issues in the China business world.
Regularly reading all three will quickly you bring you up to speed.
As well as Alibaba, visiting trade shows and expos is a common method for identifying suppliers when doing business in China.
For many importers, it’s often preferable to Alibaba due to the opportunity to meet potential suppliers face-to-face and get a more meaningful impression of them.
China Exhibition makes it very easy to keep on top of trade shows in China. We use it ourselves to find out about relevant events that we think will be worth attending.
As with Alibaba, always remember that thorough assessment of any supplier is a worthwhile step to take before you proceed to do business with them.
Simple due diligence is a central method in avoiding fraud in China, and should be followed up with background checks to narrow down your list of potential business partners or suppliers.
You might be concerned that such background checks are inaccessible to you or too expensive, but read on to see how we can help.
And finally, last but not least, our very own service, China Checkup!
In addition to the 100+ useful articles presented on this website, we also offer a range of Chinese company verification services that make performing checks on Chinese companies both easy and convenient.
Apart from the ubiquitous sourcing b2b platform alibaba.com, do you know any of the other Alibaba ecommerce platforms?
This article gives an overview of the Alibaba ecommerce platforms, most of which are aimed squarely at China's domestic market - notably the country's largest online marketplace Taobao.
Conducting China market research can be very challenging for foreign companies, due to the shortage of reliable information available in the English language.
From researching many topics for our articles, we have however found some websites which we go back to time and again, and decided it would be a good idea to share these with our readers.
Although many factory's have their own laboratories, few of these are independently certified so requesting testing by external testing body is a wise move in many circumstances.
These testing bodies should be accredited and you can make sure of this by requesting a copy of their China laboratory accreditation certificate.