Author: Amanda R

The Blessings and Curses of Working From Home

The Blessings and Curses of Working From Home

Working from home is great. I roll out of bed and can get right to work. I don’t have to worry about wearing “work” clothes, doing my makeup, or even brushing my hair. I have access to my tea, my snacks, and my dog. When my daughter comes home from school, I’m here for a kiss and a “how was your day” before she goes to play. If I need to, I can have a nap. Or I can take a break and watch a new episode of whatever new TV show we are watching. I don’t have to eat out or worry about paying rent on an office or buying gas to get to work.

It’s fantastic!

It’s also the literal worst. I haven’t left my house for five days. I’m not sure when I last showered. I haven’t spoken to a person I’m not related to face to face for weeks. My husband says I need to get out and make friends.

But I love my job! I really enjoy what I do. When I wake up in the morning, I have no problem getting out of bed because I can’t wait to check my book stats from the day before and getting started on hitting my word count goals for the day.

Sometimes I do feel a little lonely and like I’m not getting the most out of living in such a fantastic place. But leaving the house is hard for me. Going out means spending money, and I’m in a saving/get the credit card paid off mode right now. Getting out also means that everything I need to get done isn’t getting done. I’m not just a writer, but a teacher, editor, and publisher. I do have a lot on my plate. I love it, but it can be stressful, and it’s hard to unplug.

I’m trying to find more of a balance, but it’s difficult. I just want to work, work, work!

What about you? If you work from home, how do you find the motivation to “get out”?

100 Things I Love About China

100 Things I Love About China

I usually look forward to the 4th of July, but I don’t think America deserves to be celebrated right now. And while there is plenty to criticize China about, there is a lot to love about this country too. So here is a list of 100 things I love about China – in no particular order.

  1. Adorable babies
  2. The people
  3. dumplingsdumplings
  4. embroidery
  5. calligraphy
  6. ink and wash paintings
  7. shadow puppets
  8. Hong Kong
  9. Hongkongers
  10. Bruce Lee
  11. Jet Li
  12. Ang Lee
  13. 12 Girls Band
  14. the erhu
  15. terracotta warriors
  16. 5,000 years of history (give or take a thousand years)
  17. hotpot
  18. Sichuan food
  19. Yangshuo
  20. Yangshuo’s karst mountains
  21. river cruises
  22. Prince Gong
  23. Empress Cixi
  24. The Forbidden City
  25. The Great Wall
  26. granny dancing
  27. domestic helpers
  28. not needing a car
  29. fast trains
  30. C-trip
  31. not having to tip
  32. taxis on demand
  33. low cost of living
  34. my daughter’s school
  35. wechat
  36. taobao
  37. meituan
  38. Zhang Ziyi
  39. Lang Lang
  40. Donnie Yen
  41. Jackie Chan
  42. Chow Yun-fat
  43. the ability to travel around the rest of Asia cheaply and easily
  44. The Feminist Five
  45. Qing Dynasty-era manor houses
  46. unique architecture
  47. pandas
  48. dragons
  49. phoenixes
  50. Chinese graves
  51. Zhangjiajie
  52. noodles
  53. Muslim food
  54. street food
  55. night markets
  56. ethnic minority cultures
  57. Dafen Artist Colony
  58. traditional artisans
  59. temples
  60. countryside hostels
  61. Jung Chang
  62. Xinran
  63. affordable medical care
  64. a general feeling of safety
  65. Lantern Festival
  66. Chinese New Year
  67. floating lanterns
  68. Singles Day Sales
  69. Lion Dancing
  70. Chinese Weddings
  71. Hongbaos
  72. Traditional Chinese Clothes
  73. watching China change from the inside
  74. watching the rest of the world change from the outside
  75. shops open late and on weekends
  76. local parks
  77. tea
  78. acupuncture
  79. kungfu
  80. Chinese opera
  81. cheap internet/phone service
  82. meeting people from all over the world
  83. endless opportunities
  84. The way Chinese youths are creative and innovative
  85. assigned seats in movie theaters
  86. silk
  87. the Chinese zodiac
  88. fireworks
  89. Ning Zetao
  90. only one time zone that never changes
  91. Shanghai
  92. Chinese acrobats
  93. Zigong Dinosaur Museum
  94. Lhasa
  95. Splendid China
  96. Anything made of jade
  97. KTV
  98. Toys-R-Us (Yup, we still have them over here!)
  99. Chinese Court Dramas
  100. chopsticks

There are many more things I love about China, but that is enough for now.

What do you love about China? Let me know in the comments.

The Children Everyone Wants

The Children Everyone Wants

“Why do you want to adopt a baby no one else wants?”

This is one of the most common and offensive questions when it comes to adoption. Many people are genuinely curious about the adoption process, which is understandable, and I’m happy to help educate people about the joys of building their family through adoption. But the idea that adopted children are people “no one wants” is wrong.

While some birth parents might give up their children because they weren’t ready to become a parent, for the most part, parents who put their children up for adoption here in China want to keep their children. Birth control pills, condoms, and abortions are all readily accessible here. And while China’s sex-ed is lacking and unwanted/unexpected pregnancies do happen, almost 100% of children who are abandoned here in China have a significant special need. These parents want to parent their children. It is only because of extreme circumstances that they are forced to relinquish their kids.

There are two main driving forces resulting in abandonment and adoption in China.

The first is China’s family planning policy. Once a one-child policy, now a two-child policy, it really doesn’t matter how many children the government wants to include in their draconian method of unnecessarily controlling the country’s population. By limiting how many children a family can have, parents are forced to make horrifying choices that most of us in the world can never imagine.

You might be able to sit in the comfort of your home and think, “I could never give up my child just because the government told me to,” but you’ve never had the government actually tell you that. If a government official came into your home today and told you that if you didn’t give up your much-loved second child, you would lose your job and your home, you would not be able to access healthcare, and your other child would not be able to go to school, what would you do? Really? Again, it is so easy to say, “I’d rather be homeless” when you have a home. I know this sounds like something out a dystopian novel, but it has been going on here in China – for every single family – for more than thirty years. Countless loved, wanted children have ended up in the adoption system because of this disgusting policy.

And the family planning policy extends to adoption. There are actually many families in China who would love to adopt but can’t because they already have one or two children. Chinese adoptees are not “unwanted” by their birth families or by Chinese adoptive families – they are simply not allowed to stay with their families or be adopted. In Xinran’s book Message From An Unknown Chinese Mother, she gets deeply personal about her experience trying to adopt a little girl after she had already given birth to her son.

Being forced to have only a limited number of children feeds directly into the second reason many children are abandoned in China – no access to medical services for children with special needs.

Here in China, it is extremely rare to see people with disabilities. I can count on one hand how many people in wheelchairs I have seen. Or blind people. Or people using sign language.

This is a bit of circular reasoning. In China, there are no services for disabled persons. For example, there are many places you simply cannot access if you are in a wheelchair. Therefore, you never see disabled people in public. So why build services for disabled persons if there aren’t any in public? But you never see them in public because there are no services for them…and so on.

When it comes to having children, many people realize the difficulties that people with disabilities face. Chinese families also have a very dependent set-up. There is no social security system from the government or retirement benefits from your employer. Parents raise their children, and the children show thanks by supporting their parents in their old age. If a child is born with a disability, the likelihood that the child will then be able to earn enough to support their parent later is greatly diminished. So many children with disabilities are abandoned at birth or abandoned later if a healthier sibling comes along.

Even if a family wanted to keep the child with a disability, as I already said, the services don’t exist. Where we currently live, speech and physical therapists don’t exist. And even if they did, many people won’t know what they are, how to access them, or be able to afford them.

Even though my husband and I have access to top quality medical care and have the money to pursue it, raising a child with special needs is hard. There have been many days when I have felt frustrated and alone and worry about our daughter’s future. I can’t imagine the agony our daughter’s birth parents endured before they made the painful decision to let her go.

So before you think – or hear someone else say – that an adoptee was “unwanted,” stop. The child was probably desperatly loved and wanted by far more people than you realize.

Interview With Alexa Kang, Author of Shanghai Story

Interview With Alexa Kang, Author of Shanghai Story

Alexa Kang is the author of the amazing new book Shanghai Story, and I am so thrilled that she agreed to answer a few questions for me. I hope you enjoy this interview and will check out her book. 

A WWII saga in the heart of the world’s most decadent city in 1936. Enter the Paris of the East, where one man and one woman strive to hold on to their dreams as the Communists rise and the shadow of Japan closes in.

His country stood on the verge of a new beginning and the gate of hell. The Kuomintang promises the dawn of democracy, but the Communists threaten civil war while Japan’s unbridled ambitions loom.

All Clark Yuan wants is to see his fellow countrymen’s lives improve. He joins the KMT, hoping to play his part to make China a better place. He vows to Eden, the beautiful Jewish girl he admires from afar, Shanghai would be her forever home.

But power and money are at stake. The line of good and evil shifts. To achieve his ends, he must bargain with the devils. How much of his soul would he sacrifice to reach the greater good?

*

Fleeing the rise of the Nazis, Eden Levine came with her family to Shanghai, hoping to build a new life.

The dazzling city made her swoon. From the pinnacle of luxury, big band jazz, to a safe haven for Jewish refugees, the country that turns no one away is the beacon of hope. But behind the glitz and glamour, the darkness of human nature lurks.

A heinous crime shocks the international community.

Would she defend an innocent Nazi soldier and risk the ire of her own people? With only her new friend Clark by her side, could she defy the clutch of racial strife to see justice prevail?

AMAZON

 

Interview

 

1) Tell me a little about yourself and your writing history. 

I’m Alexa Kang, WWII historical fiction writer. I started writing fiction three years ago as a hobby. Back then, I wrote fanfiction for an obscure, out-of-print Japanese manga called Candy Candy with a die-hard international following. My fanfic stories were very well-received. A fanfic novella I wrote was translated into French, Italian, and Spanish by fans from different countries who loved the story. After that, I decided to give serious novel writing a try.

I released my debut novel, Rose of Anzio (Book One), in 2016. It’s a WWII epic love story that begins in pre-war Chicago and continues onto the Battle of Anzio in Italy. My fanfic readers were my earliest supporters as I shared my novel with them chapter-by-chapter as I wrote. From their responses, I knew I had a special story to tell. After it was published, I received emails from new readers who had lived through the WWII era asking when my next book would come out. One even worked in Chicago in 1940, which was when Rose of Anzio Book One took place. Those readers are in their nineties!!! It was such a humbling experience to hear from them.

I’ve been an incredible journey ever since. The most satisfying reward for me is knowing that I’m able to give people a few hours of escape from their daily burdens through my stories.

2) How did the book Shanghai Story come about?

I’ve gotten to know many WWII fiction authors since I started publishing, and I keep up to date on new WWII novels being released. WWII is a popular genre, but rarely do I see any WWII book set in Asia. WWII fiction set in China is almost non-existent in English or Chinese. I did find a few English novels set in China during WWII, but they aren’t about WWII. I started thinking maybe I could write one.

Nonetheless, I’m not a writer who can pick a topic and plan a book. I can only write something when a character comes alive in my head. This finally happened when I saw a young Chinese man returning to Shanghai from studying abroad. I saw him disembarking a ship on the Bund with hopes of helping to modernize his country into something like America, where he’d gone to college. This young man was Clark Yuan, the main character in Shanghai Story, and this is his story.

3) What was it like researching this book? 

Researching is always one of the toughest parts of writing historical fiction. It’s very work intensive. For Rose of Anzio, I had a lot of great resources to go to because WWII was very well documented by the Allied countries. China is a different story. The Nationalist government back then was very backward in technology and lacking in funds. They didn’t keep very good historical records. Even if there were records, most were lost or destroyed when the Communist Party took over. The CCP has no interest in glorying a war won by the Nationalist Party, and they have their own biased spin on what happened anyway, so research was very challenging.

Fortunately, I can read Chinese, so I was able to research in both Chinese and English. For the macro history side, I tracked down the most objective secondary sources I could find. I also visited the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum to gather information on what life was like for the Jews and how people lived in Shanghai back then. My late grandmother lived through WWII China too, so I was able to draw on my own knowledge of the Chinese culture in the past to write this book.

4) Writing historical fiction can sometimes seem like a daunting task. Did you face any particular challenges while writing this book? 

Aside from the difficulties in research, my own biggest challenge was writing an Asian male main character. How do I make him attractive and relatable to a primarily non-Asian readership, and include him in an AMWW (Asian Man/White Woman) romance subplot? For all the recent talks about diverse writing and representations in media, Asian men generally do not get a lot of love in American media (John Cho and Daniel Day Kim notwithstanding). Pairing an Asian man in a romantic role with a white woman (Jewish in my case) is still a rare phenomenon. I wasn’t sure if readers would be interested in reading a book in which the hero is an Asian man.

On the other hand, I’m not a writer who use my books to force messages onto readers, nor do I want to write for the sake of “representation.” I really, really dislike doing that. As a historical fiction writer, my primary goal is to tell a good story and take my readers on an emotional journey. I do my best to present history objectively so readers can see and experience the world in that era for themselves. I want them to have the opportunity to judge history through their own eyes, and not what I tell them.

Anyway, I couldn’t have written a story to make a point even if I tried. My writing process is very organic and I don’t plot before I write. I write because characters invade my mind and won’t let me rest until their stories are told. Clark and Eden happen to be the ones occupying my head at the moment. I only hope that I’ve done their story justice. I hope Clark will come across to the readers as someone they can relate to, and they can feel all his joys and pains.

5) What is your favorite scene from the book? 

My favorite scene is when Clark and his sisters took Eden to the Paramount Dance Hall. So much of what the entire story is about was embodied in that scene. The Paramount was the epitome of 1930s Shanghai decadence. The performers that night were Buck Clayton and Zhou Xuan. Through Clayton, I was able to show readers the influence of Black American jazz on Chinese contemporary music, as well as the racial attitudes and segregation during that time. Through Zhou Xuan, I introduced to readers an icon of modern Chinese music. She performed “When Will You Come Again?” This song is very popular even today. What most people don’t know is that this song has a huge cultural, historical, and political significance. It was first banned by Chiang Kai-shek, then by the Japanese, and then by Mao’s Communist Party. I really like sprinkling into my books details like these ones.

In that scene, we saw a glimpse of the Communists’ views on commercialism through Liu Zi-Hong, the boyfriend of Clark’s sister Wen-Li. The Japanese captain Kenji Konoe made an appearance and we got an allusion to the looming Japanese threat. Most important of all, it was a major scene where we could see Clark and Eden’s deepening attraction to each other, and how the constraints of racial and cultural divide prevented them from pursuing a relationship.

 

I hope your readers will enjoy Shanghai Story. Thank you so much, Amanda, for giving me this chance to share my thoughts with your readers.

Separating Children From Their Parents Is Wrong

Separating Children From Their Parents Is Wrong

The focus of this blog is usually politics and social issues here in China, since that is where we live. But we are also Americans, and we very actively follow politics back home. This is not just because we are interested in what is going on back in the States, but because as American citizens, the actions of our government impact us in very real ways every day. So some things that are happening in America I just have to talk about.

The separation of migrant children from their parents at the border is horrifying, disgusting, and wrong, and America – and anyone who supports such policies – should be deeply ashamed.

Let me tell you a story.

About four years ago, while driving his motorbike to a dentist appointment, my husband was pulled over by the police in Shenzhen, put in the back of a police car, and taken to jail. I was able to find him at a local police station where Zoe and I spent several hours, until almost midnight, trying to get him released to no avail. Eventually, I had to watch my husband put in the back of a police van and be driven away.

I had no idea where he was going, what would happen to him, or when I would see him again.

We were told he would only be detained for ten days, but that after that he would be deported. I called the consulate in Guangzhou the next day and they sent a representative to the jail to talk to him. He mentioned at one point that while my husband should only be held for ten days, they could “escalate” the case and hold him indefinitely, so he should be on his best behavior.

We were both frantic and terrified. It took several days before I was even able to see him and make sure he was okay, and then we could only talk for ten minutes.

The next ten days were true hell. I called everyone I knew, begging for help. I talked to dozens of people and had to make many trips to the bank to collect enough funds to pay certain people to help us. When I wasn’t working on securing my husband’s release and trying to keep him from being deported, I was physically sick in bed. I couldn’t function. I ended up having to take the two weeks off of work because I couldn’t think of anything except my husband.

And I was out. I was home. I had food to drink and Zoe to take care of me. What I went through was nothing compared to what my husband experienced inside a Chinese jail – but that is his story to one day tell.

In the end, my husband was released at 9 am on the 10th day and wasn’t deported. We survived and my husband sometimes tells other people about the experience at parties.

But it was a deeply traumatic experience. We still have separation anxiety and minor panic triggers related to those ten days.

And we are fully functional adults. I cannot imagine going through the same experience as a child. Of having your father or mother ripped away from you, not knowing when or if you will see them again.

While visiting my husband at the jail, I saw many mothers on the inside being visited by their children (the jail had a woman’s ward as well, mostly for prostitutes), who were often crying. I can’t imagine the terror those children must have been facing at being separated from their mothers even for a short amount of time.

I know that my experience in no way compares to what immigrants to America are facing today, but it did make me much more empathetic to their plight. That anyone thinks it is “okay” to separate families, even for a short amount of time, is unfathomable to me. Who are these soulless monsters?

Being an adoptive parent has also made me much more aware of the long-term damaging effect trauma can have on a child. All adoption starts from a place of loss and trauma that can manifest in many ways throughout a person’s life. Even someone adopted as an infant can experience loss and trauma. Trauma can even be inherited from generations in the past. That the US government would willingly inflict separation-induced trauma on children is abhorrent. To say nothing of the trauma inflicted on the parents. I can imagine nothing more horrifying than having my daughter taken from me.

Even though I am adoption advocate, I am a family advocate. We should all be taking every step to keeping families together. Family separation should only ever be a last resort.

Guest Post – Stop Panicking. Launching a Webshop in China is Easier than It Looks.

Guest Post – Stop Panicking. Launching a Webshop in China is Easier than It Looks.

Where does a standalone webshop stand in China eCommerce?

For many western brands, China could be one of the only few markets that brings about very strong mixed feelings. On the one hand, you can effortlessly find on pretty much all the major news outlets jaw-dropping stories about how some Western brands are making millions, if not billions, in China’s online world. On the other hand, just the thought of opening up a webpage filled with Chinese characters or speaking to a rude and sometimes unprofessional Account Manager from one of the large eCommerce companies may already give you a headache. And I have not even started with the censorship. However, China is also no mystery. Just like doing business in all other emerging markets, you just need to figure out what is the magic button.

When thinking of China eCommerce, the first thing that pops into your mind might as well be Alibaba or Jack Ma. Indeed, Alibaba keeps surprising the world with its strong capacities to engage Chinese e-shoppers and to monetize their shopping sprees. On the 2017 edition of Singles’ Day, it only took Nike 59 seconds to achieve a gross merchandise value of 100 million CNY or 13 million EUR. As a result, such B2C marketplaces are still the top choice for market entry to China’s ever-evolving eCommerce world as they account for majority of Chinese consumers’ online shopping activities.

Over time, Chinese millennials, or the post-80s/90s generations, are taking over as the main force that drives China’s consumer market forward. They are well-educated, demanding, and suspicious. It takes more than product reviews or a simple KOL live streaming show to convince them that your brand is worth their attention. What they ask for, probably without realizing it themselves, is a complete and topnotch online touching point experience. Many Western brands, larger or smaller, are racing to deploy a multichannel online experience.

In a consumer study by iResearch, stand-alone brand websites come in 3rd, right after eCommerce marketplaces and offline stores, as the most often used information channels for Chinese e-shoppers.

So to launch a standalone brand website would be a crucial part of a winning China eCommerce strategy. There can be many benefits of having an official brand website, with or without shopping functionalities— among which are greater exposure opportunities, positive associations, higher retention rates, and diversified investment portfolios. Yet, the most important benefit of having a standalone website would be the ability to test, experiment, validate all your hypotheses. It may sound like a “moo point” to you but please keep in mind that the marketplaces, like JD, Tmall, and Suning, all have very strict rules on your webshop layout, UX model, product offerings, and so on; all of which means very little room to be creative and flexible.

How the crocodiles do it?

Below are a few cases in which Western brands are making use of their websites for something otherwise either taboo or simply impossible on Tmall or JD.

Adidas. Adidas has launched the customization services, Miadidas, on their standalone website. It’s rather unimaginable that a Chinese marketplace could break their own rules to allow companies offering such services.

Lancôme. The French luxury giant integrates their e-Magazine on their official eCommerce website, as an additional benefit. The customers can still have almost the same shopping experience with the brand store on Tmall/JD.

IKEA. IKEA integrates their own membership system with what looks like a pilot eCommerce website as they can only ship to customers in Shanghai, for now. By joining the membership online, one can shop with the member-only price both online and offline.

Again, these benefits may seem trivial on the Western standards. When it comes to China eCommerce, the tradeoff between channel adoption – what a marketplace can GUARANTEE –, and freedom to CUSTOMIZE, – benefit of having a standalone website-, has always been a pickle for eCommerce Managers accustomed to Western landscapes.

Since the past few years, we have seen an increasing number of brands utilizing both eCommerce channels. It seems that more Chinese consumers are accepting standalone websites as a credible sales channel—both Adidas and Lancôme have achieved a month onsite traffic higher than 2 million already. Indeed, why not to become a front runner and have both—a well-operated listed Tmall store and a well-crafted standalone website?

Powering through your project in baby steps

Then, the question becomes how? Well, launching a website in China can be a bit different from the Western norms. They are usually seven steps before you can start directing traffic and improve engagement intensity on your website:

Step 1. Getting the right legal documents

The Chinese government requires all companies hosting a website in China to have the Internet Content Provider certificate. To acquire this certificate, a Chinese Business License is required.

Having troubles with applying for the Chinese Business License? Hosting in Hong Kong can be a quick-and-easy solution. Alternatively, you can look up webshopinchina.

Step 2. Confirming your objectives

It is advisable to start this step by reviewing your internal resources—Marketing, Merchandising, Fulfillment, IT and Customer Care, to name a few. Then, project scoping is of utmost importance—you would need to make sure all your objectives are mirrored by the corresponding designs or features and all the redundant ones are left out. After all, missing out important features will render the whole project valueless, while being a scope creep would cause otherwise avoidable delays. In addition, doing competitive analysis, conducting user research, and planning marketing/sales efforts in this step is also highly recommendable, if not absolutely necessary.

If you are still new to China, then a website alone may NOT offer the greatest sales prospects at first. Instead, it’s advisable to focus on rolling out compelling contents—nice stories, videos, and/or interactive campaigns made with HTML5 webpages—that can faster gain trust from your consumers. You might also want to ensure that Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube, are all replaced with Weibo, WeChat, Tencent Video and/or Douban.

It’s also advisable to work with a Chinese partner just to ensure that you are putting the “correct” priorities in your wish list. Before diving into the development process, have your IT staff and partner to work on a list of toolkits that have Western equivalents and are available in the country. The ones you have possibly taken for granted for might not be accessible from China.

Please also keep in mind that Chinese consumers can be a bit more difficult to impress than you were expecting. Stereotypes such as the Chinese prefers more text, screaming designs, and tacky visuals should be put to a non-recyclable trash bin forever. At this point, it’s better to have your Chinese partner or Chinese speaking staff to perform a competitor analysis summarizing a UX model that your top 5 competitors are seem to using.

Step 3. Development

Next, registering domains, visual designs, and backend development will be main deliverables. Closely communicating with your IT vendor and monitoring the project rollout is an important task. Plus, you should definitely spend time maintaining, updating and circulating all documents created in the previous step. All stakeholders, internal and external, should stay on the same page at all time.

As over 80% of online transactions in China take place on mobile devices now, you would also need to make sure that your partner will make the site fully responsive to mobile devices.

Step 4. Pre-launch

You don’t have to launch your website after everything is done to perfection. In fact, it’s recommendable to launch a semi-finial version and let your audience tell you if the current version is a keeper or not. But needless to say, SEO proofing, User Acceptance Tests, and other QA measures should be performed whether you are going lean or sticking to the classic way.

Before (lean) launch, you might also want to consider using some of the UX applications to monitor user interactions and elicit visitor insights.

Step 5. Maintenance, Optimization, & Integration

Post-launch maintenance should not be neglected in any way. It’s one thing to protect your website from virus, hackers, and breaches. It’s another to make sure your product offerings, contents, and designs are up to date and everything in the backend is working properly.

Make sure your Chinese partner has registered your website at Baidu, Sogo, and/or 360 and start building your e-reputation by crafting a Baidu Knows page, starting a stream on Zhihu, the Chinese Quora, or planning Baidu PPC campaigns.

You should also have your Marketing staff or your Chinese partner report to you weekly how the website is performing. It’s advisable to use Baidu Analytics but Google Analytics may also do the job, if you insist. One or two times of (micro) optimization is recommended every one to three months. It cannot be overemphasized how important it’s to keep your site not just nice and shining but also relevant.

That will be all for now. Hope you have a better idea about how to get a well-functioning standalone website in China!

Want to know more about Chine eCommerce? Leave your email address below and I will send you our practical guidebook of setting up an online store or a standalone webshop in China today.

Not for publication: the contents above, including text and banners, are not for commercial publication. Full copyrights of the above contents, including text and banners, belong to WebshopinChina BV. For inquiries on media partnership, please contact the writer Zi Wang at zi@webshopinchina.com.

Zi is an eCommerce Specialist at WebshopinChina.com.

Guest Post: 5 Tips on Starting a Business in China

Guest Post: 5 Tips on Starting a Business in China

It’s said that 80 percent of new businesses fail within two years. Launching a company in a foreign culture makes the challenge even more difficult. But if you do your homework and cultivate your patience and will power, you can start a successful business in a strong market such as China.

Do Your Research

One of the first things you should do is become familiar with the five-year plan published by the Chinese government. Among other things, it outlines the type of businesses they welcome. This makes it easier if your industry falls into these categories.

Outsiders have been trying to grab a share of China’s booming business climate for decades. There are people all over the world who might share stories of successes and failures that can serve to guide your decisions.

One of the best ways to meet these people is to attend of China’s five major trade shows:

  • Beijing Auto Show
  • Shanghai Import and Export Commodity Fair
  • Canton Fair
  • Yiwu Trade Fair
  • Bauma Fair

What takes place at these shows is growing in influence as Chinese technology and the Chinese economy continue to improve.

Hire a Local Consultant

China’s economic growth in 2016 was 6.7 percent, exceeding expectations, and its disposable income grew accordingly. While the Chinese business markets continue to improve, there are still many challenges facing entrepreneurs who wish to establish a presence in China.

One step in ensuring a smoother process is to have someone with experience to advise you on registering a company there. A Chinese business consultant can help with filing the correct paperwork and act as your agent when you’re away. However, it’s up to you to do your diligence in finding an experienced consultant to work with.

Decide on a Type of Business Entity

In general, there are three business legal entities that entrepreneurs choose for operating a company in China.

Representative Offices

This is just what it sounds like, and not a separate legal entity from a parent company. As a result, there are certain limitations in China, particularly not being able to accept payment directly from Chinese clients. This is appropriate for something like a marketing or informational office. However, the Chinese government still expects you to pay taxes on any income that’s generated.

Joint Venture

A joint venture is a company controlled in a partnership between foreigners and Chinese business people. It’s usually associated with tech startups. Given the ongoing problems with protecting intellectual property in China, this could be risky. However, if your product falls into a specific category, such as a software release whether on or offline, you may be “restricted” so that a joint venture is your only option.

Wholly Foreign-Owned Enterprise

This is any company in China that’s wholly owned by foreign investors. It commonly takes the form of an LLC, or limited liability company, where each partner’s share is proportional to the amount of their investment. Depending on the nature of the company and the province where it’s located, you might also be required to register a bank deposit to ensure the payment of dividends. There’s also a complex legal process should you later decide to sell the company.

Work More. Work Fast.

In the U.S., it’s customary for employees to work a 40-hour week, eight hours a day. Chinese workers are used to 12-hour shifts, including Saturdays. Even if you want to call in your team for a Sunday meeting, it seldom raises complaints.

This additional labor time means you can carry out more projects and complete them more quickly.

However, it’s not unusual for a change in business strategy to happen after hours, depending on the situation, when you’re already home for the night. It’s even more important to implement efficient operational processes. Employees in the U.S. should be able to communicate, share data, and coordinate their efforts with their Chinese counterparts at any time in the course of project development.

Hiring in China

The employment scenario in China is rather different than American executives are used to, so it might be a good idea to work with a hiring agency or consultant in China. An alternative is to hire someone in the U.S. who’s experienced with Chinese business practices and instruct them in your company mission and values before sending them ahead to start recruiting on your behalf.

Ideally, this person should be fluent in Chinese, but that’s secondary to the need for real business acumen. This is vital, because they’ll essentially be building your company from the ground up on Chinese soil.

With a trusted manager in place, you can start developing your workforce to encompass the skills and talents you need. You should also stress the importance of signing contracts and publishing employee handbooks or codes of conduct that cover disciplinary actions such as firings. If you don’t, you could find it difficult to fire anyone without facing a lawsuit in the Chinese courts.

To sum it up, China’s booming economy and technology pose a significant opportunity for foreign business leaders. To succeed, however, it’s essential that you’re familiar with Chinese laws, as well as conditions in China regarding labor practices, and able to communicate effectively. Whether you hire consultants or work out the details yourself, there’s potentially a huge market there for Western goods and services.

Jen McKenzie is a self-employed author hailing from New York, NY. She writes extensively on business, education and human resource topics. When Jennifer is not at her desk working, you can usually find her hiking or taking a road trip with her two dogs. You can reach Jennifer @jenmcknzie

Guest Post: Moving All Your Belongings to China from America

Guest Post: Moving All Your Belongings to China from America

If you’re planning an upcoming move to China from the U.S., you’ll likely be importing a good portion of your household items (including your car). You may not know where to start, and what regulations, forms, taxes and duties are involved. Educating yourself on the process is important, as Chinese customs is quite strict and you’ll need to have all of your paperwork in place. If you fail to do so – high penalties, fines, added fees and even demurrage may be levied.

Documentation and Paperwork.

Acquiring an Import Permit.

Having the appropriate paperwork submitted to the proper authorities is vital, and you aren’t even allowed to import your items until you obtain an Import Permit. In order to do so, you’ll first have to apply for a visa at the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C. This visa will allow you to enter China (not as a tourist), and once inside the country you can apply for the required Health Certificate. Once you receive your Health Certificate, you then need to apply for a Work Permit from the Department of Labor in China.

With your Work Permit in hand, you must then apply for a Resident Permit from the Foreign Affairs Office. Once your Resident Permit is approved, you can then submit your application for an Import Permit to the customs office. Attempting to bring in your household goods without this Import Permit is not allowed, and will result in your shipment being impounded by customs (1).

Additional Regulations.

Chinese customs requires that you are already present when your shipment arrives, and you’re only allowed a maximum of one ocean and one air shipment per Residence Permit. Be aware that air shipment duty rates are usually 30% more than for ocean shipments – so a single ocean shipment is the most economical option. Also, if your Work and Residence Permits are shorter than 12 months in duration, you won’t receive any duty exemptions on your shipments (2).

In addition, you must provide packing and inventory lists – and it’s vital that these documents match. Otherwise, your shipment will take significantly more time to clear customs, and you may be hit with considerable fees. It’s even possible that your shipment will be denied entry altogether, at which point it will either be returned to the origin country or even destroyed. Therefore, take extra care to ensure that your packing and inventory lists match and are fully in order. Ask an international mover if they can provide you with templates for these lists, as it will save you some time.

This is not an exhaustive list of the various forms and documents you’ll need, which can be found here.

Duties and Taxes.

Import Exemption Doesn’t Cover All Items.

While you’ll receive some relief from import duties when you have a Residence and Work Permit good for more than one year, some items will still incur duties. These include major electronics such as televisions, computers, air conditioners, refrigerators, washers and dryers, printers, stereos and so on.

All of your personal furniture is also subject to import duty, and this includes pianos. Customs requires that items which are subject to duties or have restrictions on quantity be clearly marked on your inventory list. These items must also be packed last, so they can be readily inspected by customs officials without difficulty (4).

Keep in mind that multiples of large appliances like tv’s or refrigerators, may lead the customs official to decide that your shipment contains commercial goods. You should avoid this at all costs, as this designation could make clearing customs quite challenging (5).

Duty Rates.

Though a portion of your shipment may be duty-free (items like clothing and kitchenware fall into this category), the items covered above aren’t exempted. In addition, alcohol, tobacco, motorcycles and motor vehicles, and even your personal effects are all subject to import taxes and duties.

You can expect to pay between 10 – 30% of the assessed value (determined by customs), to cover all of the import tax and duties. One source has this figure at approximately 17% for motor vehicles, though the exact percentage is subject to change (7). In addition, you’ll also need these documents when planning to import your personal motor vehicle.

As you can see, the process of moving all of your belongings to China from America is quite elaborate. Due to the complexities involved and the potentially large cost for any errors, it is highly recommended that you employ a qualified international moving company. They’ll be knowledgeable about the intricacies that come with importing shipments into China (including your personal vehicle), and can be an invaluable resource for you to rely upon.

Either way, when you take care to inform yourself about all of the steps necessary to bring your household with you – your move into China can be completed in a streamlined and problem-free manner.

Guest Post: 7 Chinese engineering marvels you haven’t heard about

Guest Post: 7 Chinese engineering marvels you haven’t heard about

China is a home to 1.3 billion people. It is rich in resources and has become one of the leading world powers in defense and energy sector. I would be lying to everyone if I state that Chinese people just made themselves great in this century. The whole world knows this nation is destined to rule the globe one day. Chinese are known to do magic with their work. We have a present example of The Great Wall of China to back our statement. Over the Centuries, China has not only made The Great Wall, but also some other Wonders of the World; such as The Forbidden City, Terra Cotta Army, Shi Bao Zhai Temple and more. Today, China is in continuous development and if you visit this Land of Wonders, you may come across many other Modern Wonders of the World and other Engineering Marvels you haven’t heard about yet.

A structural Wonder is first developed and designed as a building with an ambition to make it special. Chinese engineers and architects are ruthless and determined to the core. Designing and building an engineering marvel is a norm for them. Tourists travel to China from all over the world, to see Chinese engineering geniuses and wonders. If you want to visit China in the near future, you can book your cheap airline tickets with UK Travel Agency flights. Although you may know many of their modern man-made wonders, you may not have heard about the following 7 Chinese Engineering Marvels. So read this article and know more about them. We recommend you to include them on your to-do list in China.

  1. Three Gorges Dam

When we talk about Dams, the first thing comes to our mind is a huge water reservoir which we have seen in our local country and admired. But when we talk about Three Gorges Dam, nothing even comes near when we compare it with any other Dam, especially not the one you have seen; as it is in a league of its own. The Three Gorges Dam is the world’s biggest hydroelectric dam. It is also the world’s biggest concrete structure and the total cost to build it was 56 billion USD. It became fully functional in 2012 and is capable of producing 22 gigawatts of power.

You can go there when you visit China and we guarantee you will be left in the state of awe. It is located in Yangtze region and is one of the best spots for cruise ships. We recommend you to take a Yangtze River cruise to see the full might of this dam.

  1. Bullet Train

We have bullet trains in France, Spain, Japan and other countries but none of them compares with Chinese Grandest Bullet Train System. It is considered a modern engineering wonder of China and is about 22,000 kilometers long. This state of the art bullet train is also one of the best and cheapest way to travel in China. It is convenient and comfortable and can get you anywhere in China in a jiffy.

  1. The Danyang-Kunshan Grand Bridge

The Danyang-Kunshan Grand Bridge is the world’s longest bridge. China has some longest bridges in the world and they are all high speed. This bridge is 164.8 Km long and it was completed in 2011. If you plan to visit China, you should also plan to cross this bridge once.

This bridge is a part of Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway, and it bisects low lying terrain in the Yangtze Delta, river, lakes, and rice paddies.

  1. The Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge

The Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge is the longest glass bridge in the world. It is also the highest glass bridge ever made. This bridge is an example of creativity and passion towards inventiveness. Don’t just plan to visit it, walk over it for an extra adrenaline rush.

  1. The Shanghai Tower

Speaking of Chinese Engineering Marvels, one cannot ignore the second highest standing man-made structure in the world. The Shanghai Tower is a 632-meter, 128 stories mega-tall Skyscraper. It also offers the view of changing colors at the horizon from its highest observation deck. This building is equipped with the fastest elevators in the world and is one of the modern wonders of the world. Every aspect of this building is a record of some sort, so don’t miss the chance to visit it.

  1. Qinghai-Tibet Railway

Apart from state of the art bullet trains, China is also home to the world’s highest train service which also includes the highest train station and highest railway tunnel. It is one of the greatest engineering feats in modern world’s history.

With the completion of this railway track, China has made it easy for people to travel to Tibet, which was not easy to access before.

  1. China National Highway 314 – Karakorum Highway

China National Highway 314, or more commonly known as Karakorum highway, is one of the highest paved roads. This road connects China to Pakistan through the highland and mountains of Xinjiang Uyghur region; and is of very much strategic importance. This highway was made with amazing Chinese engineering and labor hard work. There are many tunnels and one can enjoy a comfortable car or a bus ride through it into the mountains. You can see amazing mountains that are 7000 meters high, along with Yellow River and other beautiful lakes.

My name is Kazim Raza and I am a professional blogger & work as a digital marketing expert at flights to Copenhagen travel agency. If want to work with smart minded people and their payroll doesn’t matter for them then you are capable to afford me. I love to do branding because I’ve nine-year-old affair with it.

My aim is to work with all those people who want to do business with their business names only. They have vision and they are mature enough to play smartly.

If you can do work with that mentality then dare to contact me I would convert your coffee into a mindset which you should have for your business to bring it on next level.

 

Guest Post: Tips to Stay Productive While Traveling

Guest Post: Tips to Stay Productive While Traveling

Working as a digital nomad has become increasingly popular over the last few years, and choosing to become one has its advantages and drawbacks. Being able to travel and make money at the same time is a very appealing idea. If you think you’re disciplined enough to balance out business and pleasure on your trips, then you should definitely think about working while traveling. However, there are numerous things that could go wrong on such journeys, and here are a few tips on how to avoid them.

Always plan ahead

First of all, it’s absolutely crucial to have a detailed plan on how you’re going to organize your typical day. You’ll have to establish some routines. If you don’t do that, you might end up not being focused enough while working, while on the other hand not enjoying your free time because you know you’re behind schedule with your work.

Your plan will, naturally, depend on the type of job you do, amount of work you have, as well as what you intend to do on your trips and your general habits and routines. It’s vital that you don’t think about work during your free time and vice versa – if you don’t separate the two, you’ll get yourself into trouble and you’re not going to enjoy your stay. Also, have in mind you’ll always need a few days to adapt to a new place, especially if there’s jet lag. So try to design your plan in such a way that you don’t have to work too much in the first few days and that you don’t stay at new places for less than a week.

Break your tasks down

It’s often hard to focus when you know there’s a huge project ahead of you and you haven’t even started working on it. Just the thought of the amount of effort you need to put in might be discouraging, especially if you’re on the road. Therefore, it’s important to take baby steps. Break big tasks into little bits, and think only about completing the next stage. It will be easier for you to concentrate and start working, and the sense of accomplishment after every finished stage will continually push you through your next task.

Work space

One of the things you should seriously think about if you choose to work while traveling is your work space. Ideally, your hotel room or the flat you’re renting can serve as one. But if you’re the type of person that gets distracted a lot when working from home, then working from a hotel room might be even more difficult. In addition to your coy bed and cable TV, there’s a whole world of things out there to discover at this new place and it’s hard to resist to just go out and play. That’s why you should consider other options as well.

In places where there are a lot of freelancers and digital nomads, such as Australia for instance, it’s not difficult to find an inexpensive co-working space or office for rent. Serviced offices are also a reasonable option, because they are more affordable and available immediately or on a short notice. You can find them in buildings run by facility management companies that will provide you with support staff as well. It’s easy to contact them online, so if you’re traveling around places like Australia, renting a serviced office in Melbourne or Sydney is simple and quick.

Charging your devices

Sometimes, you won’t be able to plan everything ahead and you’ll have to carry your laptop around while sightseeing or exploring the city, because you have a scheduled conference call or some work that can’t be postponed. Get used to always having your chargers with you and get an external charger in case there’s no power supply. It’s necessary to carry these with you at all times, since for you they’re just as important as your wallet or documents. Getting a solar-powered charger is not a bad idea as well. It’s easy to use the lack of power supply as an excuse and you simply mustn’t do that.

Prepare for offline situations

There will be times on your trip when there’s simply no internet whatsoever, especially while on the plane or on the bus. A solution to this problem is to download everything you might need in advance, so that you can do some work while being offline as well. Copy-paste important emails, download your tasks, projects and even articles about your industry that you wanted to check out. If you planned ahead to dedicate a few hours to your work, it’s important not to waste them, no matter whether you’re online or not.

Everything said above can be summed up into four words – discipline is key. You’ll be constantly tempted to break established routines but avoid that at all costs. Once you break the deal you made with yourself for the first time, there’s a good chance it’ll be happening again and again. Being spontaneous and impulsive on your trip is appealing, but if this is how you’re going to do it, then you should just simply take some time off and travel around. If you want to work and travel at the same time, then you won’t be able to think and act like an ordinary tourist, and the sooner you realize that, the better.

Lauren Wiseman is marketing specialist, contributor to bizzmarkblog.com  and entrepreneur. She helps clients grow their personal and professional brands in a fast-changing and demanding market, strongly believing in a holistic approach to business.