US-China Negotiation and the Balance of Power Shift (BOPS) Part II – How it affects Chinese tactics

Last time we talked about why US-China deals undergo a shift in the balance of power.

Shifts in the power balance have to be seen through the filter of your counter-party’s culture and experience. You might think that moving money or assets into China means that you have more power in the relationship with your local partner – but to him this may signal the beginning of the end – his last chance to get paid before the finale. You see your new venture as something stable and growing – he may see it as one component of a larger, more fluid set of opportunities. He’s learned a new product or process from you, and profited a bit in the process. Staying put with you would be lazy and slothful – what he should be doing is putting this new expertise to work by developing his own operation. He’s already got the network and the channels – all he needed with process training.

Chinese tactics
After a balance of power shift, the tactics employed by your Chinese counter-party will become more aggressive and goal-oriented. In the pre-BOPS negotiation your counter-party was learning and waiting for you to put the pieces together. But now that your business is starting operations there is little more to be learned. It’s about cash now – and there are a few different approaches Chinese negotiators can employ after the BOPS occurs..

A BOPS in your favor.
Scenarios: You have developed expertise, contacts or resources of your own in China.
Key variables: Exclusivity, Territory, Pay-out
Tactics: Putting down roots and digging in for the long haul.
If you are becoming more successful and independent, your local counter-parties may see this as an increase in your power and influence in the relationship. From here on in, they will be looking to maximize money, power and influence within their own network (usually involving you buying, hiring or spending with their friends). The good news is that they aren’t going anywhere. The bad news is that it is going to become more expensive to maintain the relationship.

A BOPS in their favor.
Scenario A: You have brought in money, registered, set up the business and started operations. Now he wants out.
Variables: IP, trademark, designs, customer lists, quality, promotional material, etc
Tactics: Cut-throat quick-kills and fast exits.
You’ll be wondering why they are giving up a deal that is doubling in value for them – it’s because your share is going up even faster. They think they can do the same business elsewhere without having to give you the lions’ share of the profits. Their power and influence is at its highest point the moment you successfully start operations. They may feel that their best chances of capitalizing on your achievements don’t include you.

Scenario B: You have set up the business – and now he wants more:
Variables: Money, hiring & buying (from their network), quality.
Tactics: Spend your money to prop up their local network.
In this situation, they see you as the deep-pocketed Daddy Warbucks type who always has cash to throw around. They become resentful that you are exploitative and manipulative, and start upping fees and charges. The size of your operation – and staff – begins to increase rapidly. You are spending more – and facing increasingly aggressive counter-parties – but not seeing an improvement in terms of quality or service.

Next: Part III: BOPS and counter-tactics


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