Starting a Business in China

Find out about the various business structures available in China and how to get a venture started...

Starting a business in China can be a time-consuming and extremely complex process, particularly for someone who does not speak Mandarin and who may be unaccustomed to local cultural norms. It is for this reason that many foreigners who start a business enlist the assistance of a Chinese person or agent.

Types of Business

There are four types of business that foreigners can start in China:

  1. A business with foreign investment (a joint venture).
  2. Wholly Foreign-Owned Enterprise - WFOE (a limited liability company).
  3. A representative office of a foreign business.
  4. A Foreign Invested Partnership Enterprise (FIPE) - business partnership of a foreigner and Chinese persons that requires no minimum registered capital.

Due to the complexity of starting any venture in China, it is advisable to have the help of a lawyer or a Chinese agent or representative. Also, under Chinese law there may be restrictions on foreign ownership of certain businesses. Business registration can take from 6-12 months depending on the type.

Useful Resources

There are resources online outlining the procedures for starting a business.