The link and the yuán fèn, 缘份

“Finding a connection” is a common practice in China during a first meeting. How does one find this link? Quite simple! You can use yuán fèn, 缘份*.

The simple link

He, the CFO, has to deal with a dispute, which is being closely monitored by the not very accommodating Chamber of Commerce. At his second appointment, a new contact, Lu, joins the meeting. In the conversation, they realize that they are both graduates of the same university. His worries will soon subside. He explained to me that “Often, during a first meeting, as Chinese, we like to find a link by finding similarities, such as born in region, went to the same school, same teacher, same friend, etc., It allows us to ‘create the link’ and to be able to move forward together and solve a problem more easily and with more confidence”. Indeed, I’ve seen situations relax once the link was established. One client forgot his anger at a television provider when he understood from the accent that they both came from the same region of Hebei province. A big boss agreed to place an order with a company because his counterpart had had the same great professor at university.  And even when there is no connection, one can find it with yuán fèn.

Yuán fèn 缘份, the two characters

Indeed, this word means a predestined affinity. This concept comes from Buddhism, which considers that certain beings are connected by threads of destiny.  The first character on the left 纟 includes silk with its threads. In his early writings, we can clearly see the threads of silk:


The second character, 份 , means share, portion.

缘份 et love relationships 

It is used in sentimental relationships when two people are predestined to meet each other. They have “yuan fen”.

In everyday life and business

I have met him in everyday life; this term seems to be more used in South China. A few examples:
A Chinese client, after a few meetings and a good relationship, says to me: “You realize, there are 1.4 billion of us and you get to know me”. Among 65 million French people, I do business with you. We really have yuan fen. »
One day, Zhongmei, the wife of this client, asks me if I can find her a French teacher for her son. I do some research, a student shows up, but she drops out after the first class. I’m sorry; Zhongmei says, “It’s okay, we didn’t have a yuanfen with that teacher.”
A Cantonese neighbor, Zhou, who was starting a business, had been trying to meet me for a few weeks. I guessed he needed me. The online market had exploded in recent years, and he was developing a concept focused on household goods. This morning, I went down to his office on the 19th floor.  With a delicious cup of tea, he explained his project from A to Z. I was having fun listening to him and wondering how he was going to ask for my help. He gave me the… yuan fen trick.  Zhou, with his little smile approached the subject with: “我们有缘份, we have yuan fen, we can do business together. You must surely know a European venture capitalist who is interested in my projects. “

So you just have to find links to have links and the yuanfen is a great help.

*缘分, the second part has been simplified. It can be written without the left side of the man. Dictionaries do not agree among themselves on the equality of meaning between 缘份 and 缘分, but in practice the meanings seem to be the same.

1rst June 2020

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