Complementing the article on the importance of relationships is a beautiful Chinese phrase learned on a Tianjin-Peking train in August 1991. My neighbour, a young computer scientist, explained to me that if I wanted to understand relations in China and move forward, I had to remember this proverb: ” Depend on parents at home, rely on friends outside, 在家靠父母，出门靠朋友.”
“Outside, if you can’t rely on friends, you can’t do anything. Officials do what they want to do, you have to find the right relationship to get what you need, get a place at school, get the right doctor, find the policeman. It’s the same for business, to grow, without a relationship, you don’t do anything.”
Since 1991, the legal arsenal has greatly increased and the population is a little less at the mercy of arbitrary decisions. Nevertheless, the substance remains and often the reaction is to seek the relationship instead of relying on regulations. Example: one morning in the winter of 2016, the company’s driver hangs up another car. He calls his Shanghai superior to tell her to look for someone (找人) to solve the problem. She replied: “We have insurance, that’s enough, who do you want to fetch?”. She commented : “Tang thinks he’s in his Jiangsu campaign; here in Shanghai there is the law and the insurance will pay for the damage, as the contract says. »
Shanghai isn’t all China, and the more you go down to the small towns, the more truthful the formula becomes.
Furthermore, the term “friend, 朋友” should rather be understood as a relationship. We have established a bond for mutual interests and we will return the favour. Of course, in all cultures, networks are important. In China, it’s certainly much more important and sometimes a crucial issue!
Make friends then!
21 may 2021